Euro stays soft near lows as debt crisis festers

LONDON - The euro came under renewed pressure, dipping close to two-month lows against the dollar on Thursday, as the euro zone debt crisis showed little signs of abating and fears of contagion kept investors nervous.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Thu 25 Nov 2010, 5:27 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:34 AM

Traders said Portugal and increasingly Spain were seen as potentially in need of financial help while Ireland’s belt-tightening measures came under fire for sticking to optimistic growth assumptions.

Foreign exchange trading volumes were, however, light due to the US Thanksgiving holiday.

“Things are a bit sidelined due to the US holiday but there is still a lot of nervousness about euro zone peripheral debt problems. So the euro remains a sell into rallies and not a buy on dips,” said Paul Mackel, director of currency strategy at HSBC.”

European clearing house LCH.Clearnet raised on Thursday the margin requirements to trade Irish government debt, citing widening spreads over triple-A euro zone benchmarks..

The cost of insuring Irish debt against default rose while Spanish and Portuguese yields pushed higher. The rising spreads in Spain have triggered speculation over whether the funds available under a euro zone financial safety net would be sufficient to help a large country if needed.

The euro was down 0.2 percent on the day at $1.3300, trading below its 100-day moving average at $1.3303, having hit a two-month low of $1.3284 on Wednesday. Traders said option expiries at $1.3350 were likely to check any gains.

The next support is pegged at $1.3232, a 61.8 percent retracement of the August to November rally, a break of which could see the single currency test its 200-day moving average at $1.3133.

The currency has fallen below support from the bottom of the cloud on the daily ichimoku chart, which stood at $1.3371, sending a major bearish signal. The last time it fell through the cloud was December 2009, preceding a six-month-long decline.

The euro lost 0.12 percent against the yen, at 111.20 yen. It fell to 110.32 yen on Wednesday, a level last seen in mid-September.

Growing pain for euro zone investors

Some traders said worries that private investors may have to accept losses, or “haircuts”, in any euro zone sovereign debt restructuring from 2013 — as proposed by Germany — could push up the premium investors will ask for holding peripheral debt, undermining the euro.

Still, European Central Bank Governing Council member Alex Weber said on Wednesday that the euro would survive the debt crisis and the euro zone financial safety net was enough to see off a speculative attack..

Despite the latest turmoil, few expect the euro to fall to the four-year low of $1.1876 marked in June in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.

“Things are different,” said Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank. “We have QE2 which is dollar negative. Also we are seeing Germany recover at a stronger than expected pace and some in the ECB are still hawkish despite the peripheral debt issues.”

The euro’s weakness helped the dollar index rise to a fresh two-month high of 80.03. The dollar also gained 0.12 percent against the yen to 83.66 yen and hit a two-month high against the Swiss franc, helped in part by higher US Treasury yields.

The high-yielding Australian dollar was 0.34 percent lower at $0.9792, weighed down by position adjustments and worries that China will tighten monetary policy.

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