Euro dips ahead of Greek IMF repayment deadline

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The euro was broadly lower on Tuesday as investors braced for the near certainty that Greece will default on a repayment to the International Monetary Fund, while short-covering and uncertainty ahead of a key referendum capped losses.

The euro was last down 0.77 percent against the dollar at $1.1148. While Greece was set to default on a 1.6 billion euro loan from the IMF, traders who had bet against or "shorted" the euro continued to repurchase the currency after it rallied on Monday from a four-week low $1.09550 to a nearly one-week high of $1.12790.

The focus was also on how popular opinion takes shape in Greece before it holds a referendum Sunday to vote on whether the terms set by creditors for a bailout were acceptable. The recently announced referendum took many traders by surprise and has prolonged uncertainty over Greece's economy.

The deadline for the payment to the IMF expires Tuesday at 6 p.m. time in Washington (2200 GMT).

Amid Greek drama, stay away from the euro: Pro
Amid Greek drama, stay away from the euro: Pro

The euro's weakness is "partially the reality that there is not going to be a payment to the IMF," said Jason Leinwand, managing director at rates, currencies, and commodities derivatives hedge advisory firm Riverside Risk Advisors in New York.

He said, however, optimism for a Greek resolution lingered given the upcoming referendum, limiting the euro's losses.

"The market is going to sit now." he said. "Heading into the referendum is going to be key."

Analysts said traders who were short the euro on the view the currency would tumble dramatically given Greece's debt concerns continued to repurchase the euro or "cover" their short bets as a major dip failed to occur Tuesday.

"The price action of the euro is not consistent with the news, and that will give x amount of traders the heebie jeebies and they will run for the doors," said Richard Scalone, co-head of foreign exchange at TJM Brokerage in Chicago.

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The dollar benefited, meanwhile, from month- and quarter-end flows, which stem from global fund managers and investors rebalancing their currency exposure based on stock and bond market movements over the month or the quarter.

The was last down 0.91 percent against the yen at 136.41 yen. The dollar was last down 0.14 percent against the yen at 122.36 yen after earlier hitting a five-week low of 121.930 yen.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was last up 0.73 percent at 95.48.