Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FOREX-Swiss franc firmer vs euro, SNB steps seen too timid

The Swiss franc rose versus the euro on Thursday, and may test a record high in days ahead after the Swiss National Bank's latest steps to curb franc strength fell short of expectations, and as worries over the euro zone's debt crisis fester.

The SNB stepped up its efforts to tame a runaway franc on Wednesday by announcing an expansion of its liquidity policy. That disappointed investors who bet on more aggressive action such as a franc exchange rate peg to the euro.

The SNB said it would boost liquidity by expanding sight deposits to 200 billion francs from 120 billion, reiterating it would take additional steps if needed.

"What drove the Swiss stronger is less speculation and more fear of things going wrong in the euro zone. Until that's fixed, it's very difficult to see how the SNB can win," said Rob Ryan, FX strategist at BNP Paribas in Singapore.

Although the European Central Bank's government bond buying has helped calm jitters over euro zone debt crisis contagion for now, it is unclear how long this will continue, he said.

"If the ECB feels the politicians are not moving, that they are beginning to rely on the ECB, they will have no choice but to step back again," Ryan said.

The euro dipped 0.2 percent against the Swiss franc to 1.1393 francs .

Euro/Swiss has surged since hitting a record low of 1.00750 last week, buoyed by speculation that the SNB may set an exchange rate target to curb Swiss franc strength and embark on Swiss franc-selling intervention to defend such a target.

The dollar edged up 0.1 percent against the Swiss franc to 0.79090 , having risen since dropping to a record trough of 0.70676 last week.

The dollar continued to hover near a record low against the yen of 76.25 yen hit in March on trading platform EBS, and was last steady on the day at 76.58 yen .

Tsutomu Soma, senior manager for Okasan Securities in Tokyo, said dollar/yen could drop to a record low "anytime soon".

If the dollar dropped below 76.25 yen and stop-loss dollar offers were triggered below such levels and options-related positions were cleared out, the dollar could clamber back up toward 77 yen to 78 yen, Soma said, adding that there was talk of dollar bids at levels below 76 yen.

The dollar has dropped down close to a record low against the yen, even after Japan's record one-day yen-selling intervention earlier in August, and market players remain wary about the possibility of further yen-selling intervention.

One factor that could weigh broadly on the dollar is market speculation about the possibility the U.S. Federal Reserve may eventually launch another asset-buying programme, market players say.

Investors are focusing on whether Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will drop any hints about such further monetary easing measures when he speaks at a regional Fed event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, next week.

The euro dipped 0.2 percent against the dollar to $1.4404 , having retreated from a three-week high hit the previous day. Copyright @ 2011 - Theme by NanLimo - Thanks to Google