Euro gains as data show euro zone resilience

LONDON - European stocks and the euro rose on Thursday after data showed the euro zone economy was holding up slightly better than its US counterpart, while crude oil steadied below $72 a barrel.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 24 Aug 2006, 9:22 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:20 PM

Wall Street was set for a steady start after US durable goods orders fell by a hefty 2.4 percent in July, more than the 0.5 percent fall expected by the consensus in a Reuters poll.

However, excluding volatile transportation orders which include big aircraft, durable orders rose 0.5 percent, slightly higher than expected.

US Treasuries pared their gains, with the yield on the US 10-year note rising to 4.807 percent as investors looked past the headline weakness in durable goods.

“Durables ex-transportation was higher than expected and that is an indication that at least the manufacturing sector is still doing reasonably well,” said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

The dollar edged up but was still trading weaker on the day at $1.2815 per euro after German business confidence data earlier showed its economy was holding up despite high commodity prices, rising interest rates and the prospect of a tax increase next year.

The Ifo institute’s business climate index dipped to 105.0 in August from 105.6 a month earlier, above expectations for a fall to 104.8 in a Reuters poll of economists.

The euro, which had slipped earlier this week following weaker-than-expected German ZEW investor sentiment and Belgian business confidence data, bounced half a cent versus the dollar.

“Many were thinking that the good times were over. The August Ifo showed that the economy will grow solidly in the third quarter too,” said Dirk Schumacher, an economist at Goldman Sachs.

Euro zone government bonds, a favoured investment in times of slow growth, sold off sharply after the Ifo but quickly rebounded as traders saw little chance that the weak data would prompt the European Central Bank to slow the pace of its interest rate tightening.

The September Bund future tumbled as low as 117.49 from a peak of 117.99 immediately before the data but last traded 8 ticks higher on the day at 117.79.

European stocks benefited from the better-than-expected Ifo and solid earnings from companies including watch maker Swatch and Kudelski.

The pan-European DJ Stoxx Index of 600 leading shares was 0.5 percent higher at 331.6 points.

Earlier in Japan, the Nikkei share average closed down 1.3 percent at 15,960.6 points as concerns about slower US growth resurfaced after weak housing data on Wednesday.

US existing home sales fell to their lowest level since January 2004. Traders are awaiting US new home sales data at 1400 GMT.

US light crude oil prices steadied below $72 a barrel after falling nearly 2 percent on Wednesday following data showing a surprise weekly build in US gasoline supplies.

A further fall in production from Alaska’s key Prudhoe Bay oilfield and the ongoing potential for United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme supported crude prices.

Prices for metals including copper, nickel and gold edged higher but held in tight ranges.

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