Friday, August 8, 2008

Euro Falls the Most in 8 Years on Reduced Bets for Higher Rate

By Ye Xie and Anchalee Worrachate

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The euro fell the most in almost eight years against the dollar as traders pared bets the European Central Bank will raise interest rates as the economy slows.

The euro is poised for its biggest weekly loss since January 2005 after ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet yesterday said economic growth will be ``particularly weak'' through the third quarter. An index that tracks the dollar against the currencies of six U.S. trading partners touched the highest since February. Crude oil fell to a three-month low.

``This is the beginning of a new chapter for the dollar as Trichet and other central banks are paying more attention to the downside risk to growth,'' said Dustin Reid, a senior currency strategist at ABN Amro Bank NV in Chicago. ``The decline of oil prices is a significant driver behind this dollar rally because it enables other central banks to turn their eyes away from inflation and focus on growth.''

The euro declined 1.95 percent to $1.5032 at 10:23 a.m. in New York and reached $1.5005, the lowest level since Feb. 27, from $1.5325 yesterday. It dropped as much as 2.08 percent, the biggest one-day drop since Sept. 6, 2000. Against the yen, the European currency traded at 165.84, from 167.70. The dollar rose 0.5 percent to 109.97 yen after touching 110.08, the strongest since Jan. 10.

Moving Average

The euro's decline below $1.53 and the break of the 200-day moving average at $1.5226 ``marks a significant change in sentiment for the dollar,'' pointing to a further decline to $1.46, Kevin Edgeley, a London-based technical analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., wrote in a report today.

The euro has declined 3.1 percent against the dollar in its fourth weekly decline, the worst losing streak since May 2007. Against the yen, the U.S. currency has advanced 2.1 percent, heading for its biggest weekly gain in almost two months.

``The most important aspect of the dramatic collapse in the euro dollar is the absence of confirmation from other markets,'' said David Woo, global head of currency strategy at Barclays Capital Inc. in London. ``None of the typical drivers of the euro-dollar in the past couple of years could have accounted for the magnitude of this move, which leads one to conclude that this is a technical driven move.''

The South African rand led losses among the most-traded currencies as the prices of gold and platinum dropped, reducing prospects for export earnings from the country's biggest exports. The greenback rose to a six-month high against the Australian dollar, and advanced to the highest since September against the New Zealand dollar on speculation the central banks will cut borrowing costs.

Russia's Ruble

The Russian ruble fell by the most in 2 1/2 years against a dollar-euro basket used by the government after Georgia's Interior Ministry said four Russian fighter-jets entered Georgian airspace and bombed the towns of Gori and Kareli, boosting the risk of war. The ruble dropped as much as 0.8 percent against the basket.

The pound fell below $1.93 for the first time since March 2007 as the Bank of England kept its main interest rate steady at 5 percent yesterday after inflation accelerated and the economy teetered on the brink of a recession. It has dropped 2.7 percent this week to $1.9210, its biggest weekly drop in three years.

The Dollar Index on the ICE futures exchange reached 75.713 today, the highest since Feb. 21.

`No Bias'

Trichet said yesterday he has ``no bias'' or ``pre- commitment'' toward future rate movements after the central bank left the main refinancing rate at 4.25 percent. He told reporters in Frankfurt that while inflation remains a threat, risks to economic growth are ``materializing.''

European retail sales dropped by the most in at least 13 years in June, the European Union said on Aug. 5. Consumer confidence slid in July by the most since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the European Commission said July 30.

Traders pared bets the ECB will lift rates a second time this year after increasing its main rate by a quarter-point last month. The implied yield on the December interest rate futures, an indication of expectations, retreated 2 basis pointsto 4.94 percent today.

The New Zealand dollar slumped as much as 2.2 percent to 69.84 U.S. cents, the biggest loss in two months. Australia's dollar dropped 1.7 percent, falling for a fourth day, to 89.10 U.S. cents, from 90.66 cents yesterday. The Reserve Bank of Australia said it may lower borrowing costs, after keeping its benchmark interest rate at a 12-year high of 7.25 percent this week.

Oil, Metals, Crops

Crude oil, metal and crop prices fell as the dollar climbed, reducing the appeal of commodities as a currency hedge. Oil has declined to $118.15 a barrel since touching the record of 147.27 on July 11.

The euro-dollar exchange rate and oil have had a correlation of 0.9 in the past year, according to Bloomberg calculations. A reading of 1 would mean they moved in lockstep.

``Oil prices have turned out to be much more supportive of the dollar than I expected,'' said Masanobu Ishikawa, general manager of foreign exchange at Tokyo Forex & Ueda Harlow Ltd., Japan's largest currency broker. ``It does temporarily relieve some concern that the U.S. economy will weaken further. This is a plus for sentiment.''

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