April 12, 2019 / 8:28 AM / 2 months ago

FOREX-Euro gains in surprise move driven by flows linked to Japan

* Euro jumps in surprise late Asian move

* Dollar index sags, weighed down by euro's strength

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Tom Finn

LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) - The euro gained on Friday in a move dealers said may have be driven by anticipated currency demand arising from a Japanese bank's plans to purchase a German multi-billion dollar aviation finance business.

The jump in the common currency occurred late in Friday's Asia session and saw the euro rise to a 2-1/2-week high.

Markets are often quiet in the hours before European trade opens and thin liquidity has in recent months caused sudden jolts or "flash crashes" in major currencies including the Swiss franc.

But the heavily-traded euro-dollar currency pair, with a daily turnover of over $1 trillion, has recently traded in a narrow range at a time when volatility in foreign exchange markets is at a multi-year low, said Elisabeth Andreae, an FX strategist at Commerzbank.

"It is remarkable that particularly in this market environment we see jumps even in EUR-USD typically during Asian trading times. This morning we saw a move from $1.1260 to $1.1290 in one fell swoop," she said.

The euro rose 0.35 percent to $1.1289 after touching $1.1294, its highest since March 26. The common currency also advanced about 0.4 percent 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, the portfolio of that business stood at 5.6 billion euros.

The transaction was announced on March 1 and MUFG said the transaction was expected to close after June.

Pressured by the stronger euro, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was down 0.2 percent 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 on to 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.

With the dollar broadly lower, the pound rose 0.2 percent to $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 an agreement. (Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro Editing by Keith Weir)

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