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FOREX-Euro slips after ECB officials' comments; yen firm

* ECB policy to be accommodative for some time - Constancio

* BOJ holds policy steady, downgrades view of exports

* NZ dollar hits post-flotation high on trade-weighted basis

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - The euro fell against the dollar and the yen on Tuesday after European Central Bank policymakers indicated traders may have overlooked the message that the bank may still act to stimlate the economy.

The common currency strengthened to a 2-1/2-year peak against the greenback last week after the ECB refrained from introducing unconventional measures to avert deflation and remarks from ECB President Mario Draghi following the bank's policy meeting that were seen as hawkish.

Further ECB stimulus is seen as negative for the euro because it would inject more cash into the economy, eroding the currency's purchasing power.

"The market is really interested in whether it correctly interpreted Draghi's comments," said Thierry Albert Wizman, global interest rates and currencies strategist at Macquarie Limited in New York.

A couple of top ECB officials signaled that traders might have overreacted to Draghi's remarks at last week's news conference.

Vice President Vitor Constancio told MNI news agency that the ECB made its forward guidance more precise at its March meeting by emphasizing the slack in the euro zone economy. The ECB still has policy ammunition in the form of lower interest rates or quantitative easing if needed, he said.

His remarks came after ECB board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger, in an interview published Monday by the Wall Street Journal, said that the bank has not run out of options for stimulating the economy and will act if necessary. ID:nL6N0M73EF]

The euro was down 0.1 percent against the dollar at $1.3856 , retreating further from the 2-1/2-year peak of $1.3915 hit on Friday. The euro was down 0.2 percent at 143.01 yen , off a recent two-month high of 143.79 yen.

The euro's inability on Friday to close above $1.3894, which is a crucial technical level and its Dec. 27 high, indicated that its rally has faded in the short term, said Ned Rumpletin, a G10 currency strategist at Standard Chartered in London.

Still, Rumpletin upgraded his euro/dollar forecast for the first quarter and the second quarter to $1.38 and $1.35 from his earlier view of $1.32 and $1.31, respectively.


The yen edged up after the Bank of Japan held steady on monetary policy and its chief, Haruhiko Kuroda, said there was no need to adjust monetary policy for now.

The BoJ maintained its stance on massive monetary stimulus, as widely expected, and stuck to its view that economic growth and consumer price increases remain on track. It downgraded its view of exports but upgraded its view of capital expenditure and industrial production.

The dollar was little changed at 103.24 yen, trading at the bottom of Tuesday's 103.19-103.43 yen range.

Analysts anticipate the U.S. Federal Reserve will likely further pare its bond purchase program, known as QE3, by $10 billion a month at its March 18-19 policy meeting.

The yen, a safe-haven currency, has been supported by worries over Chinese growth and the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The Russian rouble was a tad weaker at 36.4077 roubles versus the U.S. dollar.

"Dollar/yen has been in a range between 101-104 yen for much of this year, and the yen needs a fresh trigger for the next leg of weakness," Peter Kinsella, currency strategist at Commerzbank, said. "That could come from a steady deterioration in Japan's trade and current account deficits."

Meanwhile, ahead of a widely expected rise in New Zealand interest rates on Thursday, the New Zealand dollar hit its highest level since flotation against a currency basket in 1985.

On a trade-weighted basis, the kiwi rose as high as 79.68, according to Reuters data. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is set to raise rates and lay out a path for a series of increases over the next two years, according to a Reuters poll.