POLL-Resurgent euro set to take a breather
* Euro to retain its value over the next month -poll
LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - A rejuvenated euro is marching higher but leading foreign exchange forecasters, who have tended to be conservative with their predictions in recent years, are saying in the latest Reuters poll it won't last.
A month after completely failing to foresee the sudden three percent rally in the single currency coinciding with surging stock markets around the globe, 64 strategists polled by Reuters Feb 4-6 are forecasting calmer times.
They see the euro trading at $1.35 by end-February and $1.28 in a year. A month ago the consensus for where the euro would be trading now, last quoted around $1.356, was way off, at $1.31. Even the most bullish forecast for $1.35 undershot the month-end close by nearly one percent.
It is expected to trade in the range of 1.30-1.39 this month and 1.14-1.43 in 12 months.
However wrong last month's prediction might have been, analysts remained cautious about the euro even if the European Central Bank's balance sheet is shrinking when others are expanding and its rates are expected to stay on hold. Such stances can help support the value of a currency.
Now that most institutional investors around the globe have piled into riskier trades at the start of the year with abandon, the view is that's overdone.
But it may be wishful thinking. CFTC data show currency speculators are long the euro - bets that the currency will rise - and barring a sudden rush to safe havens or a resurgence of the euro zone crisis, the recent strength shows no signs of abating.
The consensus last month was that the economy was much too weak to warrant the euro surging any further. Not much has changed, except for some evidence from business surveys that the worst may be over for the 17-member currency bloc.
The latest leap higher for the euro - it hit a 14-month high of $1.3711 on Friday - comes on top of a four percent rally in the second half of last year.
Traders took European Central Bank President Mario Draghi at his word when he said he would do "whatever it takes" to save it. They still believe him.
But top forecasters polled by Reuters are not the only ones concerned the euro has gone up too far, too fast.
Worried about how a strong currency may hurt exporters, French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday implored the euro zone as a whole to put together a policy to protect the currency from "irrational movements."
But the turnaround for the euro - which has come alongside a long-awaited collapse in the safe-haven Japanese yen against the dollar - is being driven at least in part by a fundamental re-think of how the world economy is likely to perform.
"Recent evidence suggests that the global economy is at an inflection point, with the acute stage of the financial crisis now behind us," wrote analysts at Credit Suisse.
"This said, we don't expect a broad dollar-centric trend in 2013, consistent with a fairly static outlook for U.S. monetary policy across the forecast horizon."
They added that the dollar would likely lag the euro but keep rising against the yen, broadly in line with the view from the latest Reuters poll.
Credit Suisse are among the more bullish forecasters on the euro, calling for it to trade at $1.40 in a year. But even that is below the most aggressive forecast, $1.43 from ANZ, revised up massively from $1.31 just one month ago.
The last time Reuters collected a 12-month euro forecast that high was $1.45 from both HSBC and Goldman Sachs in May 2012 - a call for where it will be three months from now.
If the euro keeps rising this quickly, that forecast from nine months ago may look to have been spot-on. But Goldman's latest forecast for end-April is a more modest $1.40, while HSBC is predicting it to trade at $1.34.
(Polling by Sarmista Sen and Rahul Karunakar; Editing by Toby Chopra)