Euro lifted to 2-1/2-wk high by speculative flows linked to cross-border deal

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TOKYO (April 12): The euro rose to a 2-1/2-week high on Friday, as dealers said speculators anticipated increased demand for the common currency arising from a Japanese bank's plans to purchase the multi-billion dollar aviation finance business from a German bank.

The euro rose 0.35% to US$1.1289 after touching US$1.1294, its highest since March 26. The common currency also advanced about 0.4% to 126.23 yen, its strongest since March 21.

Dealers said speculators were buying the euro in response to reports on Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group's planned purchase of the aviation financing business of Germany's DZ Bank. As of June last year, that business stood at 5.6 billion euros.

Pressured by the stronger euro, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was down 0.2% at 96.991, giving up most of the previous day's gains.

Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo expected the common currency to hold onto its gains.

"It is not really a surprise that the euro is capable of reacting quickly to potentially positive factors, given the fundamentals surrounding the euro zone economy are showing signs of improvement."

This week both France and Italy reported higher than expected industrial output in February, offering positive signs for the bloc after some downbeat data.

The dollar was little changed at 111.77 yen, after gaining 0.6% overnight on robust U.S. data and the subsequent rise in U.S. Treasury yields.

Data released on Thursday showed first-time filings for U.S. jobless benefits dropped to a 49-1/2-year low last week, pointing to sustained labour market strength. Overall producer prices increased 0.6 percent in March, the largest rise since October.

The greenback's advance, however, stalled ahead of the 112.00 yen threshold.

"Many market players had taken a bearish view on the dollar, after the U.S. CPI numbers released earlier in the week, but they were forced to abruptly cover short positions as Thursday's data proved to be strong," said Takuya Kanda, general manager at Gaitame.Com Research Institute.

"The rise thus lacked conviction and it remains to be seen if the dollar can sustain its bounce. The prospect of a rate cut by the Fed may have diminished in light of the data, but economic views are not yet strong enough to support rate hike expectations," Kanda said.

The dollar had sagged on Wednesday after a mixed report on domestic consumer prices reinforced the notion that underlying U.S. inflation remains tame.

With the dollar broadly lower, the pound rose 0.2% to US$1.3078 to cancel out most of the previous day's losses.

Volatility for sterling plunged after a midweek deal at an emergency European Union summit to postpone Britain's exit from the bloc to Oct 31. The deal meant Britain would not crash out this week without a treaty.

The Canadian dollar edged up 0.15% to C$1.3367 per dollar, after shedding 0.5% the previous day, as crude oil prices retreated from five-month highs.

The Australian dollar traded at US$0.7117, eking out a gain of 0.1%, after sinking 0.7% on Thursday.

The Aussie had also been weighed down by a decline in copper prices and political uncertainty.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday announced a general election to be held on May 18.

The New Zealand dollar, also sensitive to shifts in commodity prices, slipped to US$0.6714, its lowest since Jan 22, before pulling back to US$0.6735.