Euro touches one-month low


London - The euro touched the lowest level against the dollar in more than a month after the European Central Bank said financial institutions will repay less of its three-year loans next week than economists forecast.

The 17-nation currency also trimmed gains versus the yen as the European Commission forecast the region’s economy will shrink for a second year in 2013.

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Graphic: renjith krishnan

The Australian dollar rose the most in seven weeks versus the US currency after central bank Governor Glenn Stevens said the bar for intervention was high.

Japan’s currency weakened as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepared to meet with US President Barack Obama.

“The repayment number came in quite a bit lower than expectations, so there was a bit of giveback on the euro,” Brian Daingerfield, a currency strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in Stamford, Connecticut, said in a telephone interview.

“The move down in the euro over the last few days has been pretty substantial, so we might be getting some consolidation.”

The euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.3161 at 9:55 a.m. in New York and touched $1.3152, the lowest level since January 10, and is down 1.5 percent this week.

It gained 0.1 percent to 122.87 yen after strengthening as much as 0.8 percent.

The yen weakened 0.3 percent to 93.38 per dollar.

The common currency declined as the ECB said 356 banks will hand back 61.1 billion euros ($80.5 billion) on February 27, the first opportunity for early repayment of the second Longer-Term Refinancing Operation.

The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for 122.5 billion euros.

Aussie Gains

The Aussie rose at least 0.3 percent against all of its 16 major counterparts after Stevens said he’d need to be confident the currency was “seriously overvalued” before considering intervention to weaken it.

“Stevens’s comments are very firmly focused on what a strong currency means for inflation, rather than including any threat of action,” said Sean Callow, a senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking in Sydney.

“The tone of his prepared comments indicates no great urgency to cut rates.”

The Australian dollar jumped as much as 0.9 percent, the biggest gain since January 2, before trading up 0.6 percent at $1.0306.

New Zealand’s currency rose for the first time in three days against the greenback after a report showed credit-card spending increased for a third month in January.

The so-called kiwi gained 0.2 percent to 83.58 US cents.

Loonie, Rupee

The Canadian dollar weakened versus 31 of its most-traded counterparts as retail sales slid 2.1 percent to C$38.6 billion ($37.9 billion), bringing the value of retailer receipts to the lowest since September 2011, Statistics Canada said today.

The nation’s inflation rate reached its lowest in more than three years.

The so-called loonie fell 0.7 percent to C$1.0253 per US dollar after earlier weakening to C$1.0255, its lowest level since June 29.

The currency dropped for a sixth day in its longest losing streak since August 2011.

India’s rupee gained against most of its major peers on optimism slowing inflation and prospects of an economic revival will attract capital flows.

The currency rebounded from a one- month low as Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. said investors should consider purchasing the rupee as India’s economic fundamentals are improving.

The rupee appreciated 0.5 percent to 54.1850 per dollar after rising 0.6 percent, its biggest gain since January 30.

German Confidence

The euro area’s gross domestic product will contract 0.3 percent in 2012, compared with a November prediction of 0.1 percent growth, the Brussels-based commission said.

The common currency rose earlier after an index of German business confidence improved more in February than economists forecast.

The Ifo institute in Munich said its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, climbed to 107.4 from 104.3 in January.

That’s the fourth straight gain.

Economists predicted an increase to 104.9, according to the median of 38 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.

“Given the more positive sentiment over the past couple of months in financial markets, the stronger German Ifo today is perhaps not that surprising,” said Kiran Kowshik, a foreign- exchange strategist at BNP Paribas SA in London.

“We established a buy-euro recommendation yesterday.”

The meeting between Abe and Obama in Washington follows a Group of 20 summit in Moscow that ended February 16 with finance ministers and central bankers signaling support for Japanese stimulus as long as Abe’s ministers cease public advocation of a weaker currency.

The yen has tumbled 12 percent in the past three months, the worst performer of 10 developed-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes.

The dollar gained 0.5 percent, and the euro rose 3.1 percent. - Bloomberg News

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