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FOREX-Euro set to be 2013′s top-performing major currency

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* Euro slips but still up versus dollar for 2013

* Euro helped by AQR; strength baffles hedge funds

* Dollar set for best gain vs yen in 34 years

By Laurence Fletcher

LONDON, Dec 31 (Reuters) – The euro eased back on Tuesday
but was still on track to be the world’s best-performing major
currency this year, while the dollar was set for its biggest
annual gain against the yen since 1979.

The single currency has gained 26 percent against the yen
this year, though it fell 0.4 percent to 144.60 yen on
Tuesday, having set a five-year high of 145.67 yen on Friday.

Against the dollar the euro has gained more than 4 percent,
baffling many hedge funds who had expected a weak euro zone
economy and a reduction in Federal Reserve bond-buying to
strengthen the greenback this year.

The Fed, however, finally announced its first move earlier
this month and a steady reduction in the flood of dollars it is
pumping into the economy looks set to contrast starkly with the
Bank of Japan next year.

“We think things are going to be very data-dependent,” said
Paul Chappell, CIO of UK-based hedge fund manager C-View.

“At the moment that looks like U.S. numbers are going to be
relatively robust compared with some other G7 peers, so the
dollar is likely to be relatively robust versus other developed
country currencies.”

He said the euro, boosted recently by banks in the region
repatriating funds to shore up their capital bases, tends to
lose ground in the first few days of a new year.

On Tuesday the euro was 0.2 percent down at $1.3775
as the gap between U.S. two-year government bond yields
and German yields widened, increasing the
relative attractiveness of the dollar.

The dollar slipped 0.2 percent to 104.96 yen, but was
up 21 percent for 2013, its biggest annual gain since a 23.7
percent rise in 1979, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo
Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore, saw the dollar rising
to 110 yen in the first half of 2013, before retreating below
100 yen mid-year and then re-testing 110 yen in late 2014.

The Swiss franc hovered near a three-decade peak against the
yen, fetching 117.90 yen. The franc touched 119.17
yen on Friday, its highest since January 1983.

C-View’s Chappell added: “We’re very much into year-end
where individual currencies are flopping around a bit,
predicated on year-end flows.”

forex euro set to be 2013s top performing major currency

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