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Currencies: Euro moves cautiously higher ahead of Greek vote

LONDON (MarketWatch) — The euro was marginally higher in early European trade on Tuesday, as investors stayed cautious ahead of the second Greek presidential vote. Elsewhere, the dollar traded slightly lower ahead of a data deluge that could stir speculation about the first rate hike.

The euro EURUSD, +0.03%  traded at $ 1.2237, up from $ 1.2232 late Monday. Investors turned their attention to Greece where the parliament for the second time in a week will vote for a new president. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failed to get his candidate — Stavros Dimas — elected in the first round on Dec. 17, and if Dimas doesn’t get the 180 required votes in this round either, the parliament has to vote for a third time next week.

Market participants worry that no president will be elected, which would trigger snap elections in January and bring uncertainty about Greece back to the fore. The results of Tuesday’s vote are expected around 11 a.m. London time, or 6 a.m. Eastern Time.

In other currencies, the ruble rose for a fifth straight day, as Russia’s central bank and politicians reportedly asked big exporters to sell foreign reserves to protect the currency. The ruble USDRUB, -1.38%  improved to trade around 54.7250 to the dollar, compared with 55.4182 late on Monday.

Both President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s central bank have encouraged the country’s large exporters to sell foreign reserves, according to media reports. Alexander Medvedev, deputy CEO of Russia’s top gas producer Gazprom, said on Monday his company would start to sell foreign-currency revenues on the domestic market, Reuters reported.

In the U.S. the dollar weakened, with the WSJ Dollar Index BUXX, -0.02%  down 0.03% to 82.54. The small move came ahead of a raft of data coming out later on Tuesday, including the third estimate of third-quarter GDP, durable-goods orders and consumer confidence.

The pound GBPUSD, -0.10%  exchanged hands at $ 1.5590, down from $ 1.5592 on Monday.

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