Euro struggles near three-year lows on economic worries

Euro struggles near three-year lows on economic worries
  • Clock-gray 14:42
  • calendar-gray 17 February 2020

The euro struggled near 3-year lows on Monday as investors worried about weakening growth in the region, while Chinese efforts to limit the damage from a coronavirus outbreak appeared to calm markets, with the yuan and Australian dollar gaining, APA reports citing Reuters.

Monday is light on economic data but traders are looking to a German business sentiment indicator due on Tuesday and purchasing managers index flash data later this week for further evidence on the state of the euro zone economy.

Last week data showed momentum in powerhouse economy Germany struggling in particular.

“EUR/USD seems to be comfortably trading around its new lows and in the next few days we expect to see a continuation in the recent downtrend rather than any clear rebound,” said ING analysts.

“The fears around the coronavirus impact on the Eurozone economy remain well in place while data this week should be in line with latest releases in providing a non-encouraging picture.”

The euro nudged higher to $1.0845 EUR=EBS in early trading but had earlier touched $1.0817, its weakest since mid-2017.

Elsewhere the yen was largely unfazed by weak economic growth data. It traded down 0.1% at 109.84 yen per dollar JPY=EBS.

The world’s third-largest economy shrank 1.6% in the three months to December, the largest drop in six years, hit by sales tax hike.

Most market players expect growth in the United States to remain stronger among the developed world, although data published on Friday provided a mixed picture.

U.S. core retail sales was flat last month, lagging expectations of 0.3% growth while its rise in December was revised down to 0.2% from a previously reported 0.5%.

Industrial production also shrank more than expected by 0.3%.

Still, economists have blamed one-off factors such as warm weather and output suspensions stemming from troubles at Boeing (BA.N) for the downbeat numbers.

The dollar index =USD stood at 99.131, near Friday’s 4 1/2-month high of 99.241.

The Australian dollar edged up as investors assessed the latest reading on coronavirus cases in China’s Hubei Province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

The province reported 1,933 new cases, up slightly from the previous day after two days of falls, but the number of new deaths dropped to 100 from 139. Nationwide, the total infections topped 70,000.

The Australian dollar ticked up 0.1% to $0.6724 AUD=D3. The currency, which is used as a proxy for risk on Chinese assets because of Australia's high trade exposure to the Asian giant, has partly been supported by expectations of stimulus from Beijing.

The offshore Chinese yuan CNH=EBS also rose, trading 0.1% higher at 6.9835 per dollar.

Sterling was little changed at $1.3046 GBP=D3.

“Coronavirus is increasingly looking like a long-term issue and thus, at least for currency markets, it will be playing second fiddle,” said Kyosuke Suzuki, manager of currencies at Societe Generale.

“In contrast, sentiment on the euro is becoming clearer, with weak economic fundamentals helping to push it down.”

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