Euro Up as German Data Tempers Rate Cut Prospects

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The euro rose to a one-week high against the dollar and a more than two-week peak against the yen on Wednesday as positive German data eased fears about the euro zone's largest economy and diminished expectations of a near-term interest rate cut.

The euro gained for a second straight day against the greenback, paring its year-to-date loss to just 0.3 percent, after data showed German industrial output rose 1.2 percent in March, confounding forecasts for a 0.1 percent fall.

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The data supported an improvement in euro sentiment that was ignited a day earlier by another upbeat report, on German industrial orders.

Falling borrowing costs in peripheral euro zone countries have also favored the euro zone common currency. Also buoying the euro was strong data out of China, the world's second-largest economy, which raised risk appetite globally. China's daily crude imports in April rose 3.7 percent from a year ago.

(Read More: China Trade Data Provide a Boost for Global Economy Bulls)

"The German and Chinese data initially helped the euro rally," said Brad Bechtel, managing director at Faros Trading in Stamford, Conn. "People are also starting to believe that the worst of the euro zone crisis is behind it. Europe is being bought by everybody right now, a function of macro asset manager buying and reserve manager diversification. All parties are in this trade together and the yield grab is widespread."

The euro last traded at $1.3154, up 0.6 percent, after hitting a peak of $1.3194, a one-week high.

Traders reported stop-loss euro buy orders at $1.3150, which pushed the euro through resistance at $1.3156, the 100-day moving average, on its way to the $1.3243 May peak.

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BNP Paribas currency strategist Vassili Serebriakov said investors are focused on the positive aspects in the market—falling euro zone peripheral bond yields and firmer equities.

"Certainly, the German industrial output data helped. But we also have this positive risk environment in the euro zone, and that has supported the euro as well," Serebriakov said in New York.


Nevertheless, further easing from the European Central Bank was still a possibility, particularly in the wake of ECB President Mario Draghi's statements on Monday about how a rate cut was still an option if economic data weakens significantly.

One-month implied volatilities in euro/dollar remain near their lowest since January, suggesting investors are reluctant to bet on sharp euro falls.

Against the yen, the euro last traded at 130.14 yen, up 0.5 percent, but down from a session peak of 130.42 yen, its highest since April 22.

The dollar was at 98.94 yen, down 0.1 percent on the day, according to Reuters data.

Kiwi Slides

The New Zealand dollar underperformed other major currencies after the country's central bank said it had intervened to try to restrain the strength of the currency. It was down 0.9 percent at US$0.8382, although analysts and traders were skeptical about how much lasting impact intervention could have.

"The RBNZ announcement is likely to make investors more cautious on buying the New Zealand dollar in the near term, but pretty soon, investors will realize that if the intervention impact is so unnoticeable that it takes an RBNZ comment to disclose it, the RBNZ is either intervening in tiny amounts or indeed is using a 'pea-shooter'," said Steven Englander, global head of currency strategy at Citigroup in New York. "I think we will see investors step in and buy some New Zealand dollars."

The Norwegian crown, meanwhile, posted sharp gains on relief that Norway's central bank kept interest rates unchanged at 1.5 percent. The dollar fell 1.7 percent against the crown to 5.7448 kronas, while the euro dropped 1.1 percent to 7.5574.

"There was no indication that they considered a rate cut, and they see no reason to change their strategy from what they indicated," said Steinar Juel, chief economist at Nordea Markets in Copenhagen. "It was maybe a little bit more hawkish than could have been expected, they could have pointed more to weaker inflation numbers. Something more needs to happen for them to cut," he said.