May 9, 2017 / 12:48 AM / in 6 months

FOREX-Euro off 6-month high but supported as ECB comes back into focus

* Euro supported as solid data points to possible ECB tapering

* Euro near 7-month high vs Swiss franc

* Dollar/yen near highest since mid-March

* Aussie listless due to weakness in commodities

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, May 9 (Reuters) - The euro pulled back from recent six-month highs on Tuesday, but remained well-supported as fading worries over political populism and signs of improving economic conditions in Europe bolstered investor confidence.

The euro fell to $1.0921 from $1.1024, its highest level in six months, hit in early Monday trade on relief after centrist Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France’s presidential election.

“The euro’s retreat was driven solely by profit-taking. I think it is going to regain momentum over time,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency analyst at Daiwa Securities.

Reflecting easing concerns over European politics, the common currency gained against the safe-haven Swiss franc, hitting a seven-month high of 1.0918 franc on Monday and last stood at 1.0915.

Against the yen, it stood at 123.72 yen after Monday’s one-year high of 124.58.

With the French election out of way, investors are now focusing on when and how the European Central Bank could scale back its quantitative easing given the recent strength in the euro zone economy.

The currency bloc’s GDP growth in the first quarter, due next week, is expected to have outpaced anaemic 0.7 percent growth in the United States in the same period.

ECB board member Yves Mersch said on Monday that the central bank is close to replacing its negative view on whether the euro zone economy will reach growth targets with a neutral one, and should adjust its policy guidance accordingly.

ECB chief Mario Draghi is also due to speak at Dutch House of Representatives on Wednesday.

“I think Mersch gave us a big hint yesterday. Draghi has been dovish so far but if he changes his tone, then we could see a change of tide,” said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of forex at Societe Generale.

“In the coming two months or so, I think the euro is likely to have the biggest upside potentials, given Draghi has tried to manage market expectations in dovish direction, unlike the Fed,” he added.

Improving risk sentiment supported the dollar against the yen.

The dollar traded at 113.27 yen, near its highest level since mid-March.

The immediate target for the dollar would be 113.40, the 50 percent retracement of its fall from the December peak of 118.66 to its April low of 108.13.

A break of that level opens the way for a test of 114.64, the 61.8 percent retracement of the same decline and 115.51, its recent peak hit on March 10.

Yet with a Fed rate hike in June almost fully priced in, some market players say the dollar may struggle to extend its rally further, especially given any stimulus by President Donald Trump is unlikely to be put in place for several months to come as he deals with a divided Congress.

Elsewhere the Australian dollar was listless at $0.7383 , holding just above Friday’s four-month low of $0.7368, undermined by recent weakness in various commodity prices.

Although oil prices have rebounded this week after dropping sharply late last week, to their lowest level since November when oil produced announced output cuts, copper hit four-month low on Monday on slides in Chinese imports. (Editing by Sam Holmes)

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