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Euro under pressure in Asia, stocks sit on gains

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-06-2014 Wayne Cole

Sydney: The euro came under mounting pressure on Wednesday as the European Central Bank’s (ECB) liquidity package encouraged flows out of the zone, while Asian shares consolidated near recent highs following a flat finish on Wall Street.

The single currency was sliding across the board as investors looked to borrow euros at super-low rates and buy higher-yielding assets abroad, the so-called carry trade.

In contrast the dollar found support in a run of improving US economic data which pushed up Treasury yields and stoked speculation the Federal Reserve might sound less dovish on policy when it meets next week.

That diverging outlooks shoved the euro down to $1.3528 and further away from a $1.3668 peak scored at the start of the week.

It also hit a seven-month trough on the higher-yielding Australian dollar and to near its lowest against the pound since late 2007.

Action in equity markets was more muted with many indices already having come a long way. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was steady at a three-year peak.

The MSCI index of emerging markets has also been on a roll to reach its highest since May 2013, in part on speculation the ECB’s increasingly aggressive easing will encourage fund flows to the emerging world.

Japan’s Nikkei edged up 0.4% while the South Korean market hardly budged.

Moves were minor on Wall Street with the Dow up 0.02%, while the S&P 500 down 0.02% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.04% firmer.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index had edged up 0.3% to its highest close since January 2008.

Rising yields

The flow of US data has been bright enough to soothe worries over the economy after a disappointing first quarter. Tuesday’s releases showed small business confidence and job openings reaching heights not seen since 2007.

That in turn has led the futures market to nudge forward the likely timing for a first rate hike from the Federal Reserve, though that is still well into 2015.

Likewise, US Treasury yields have reversed decisively higher with 10-year paper paying 2.6% compared to a trough of 2.4% just two weeks ago.

“The bull moves in bonds that began early this year are now officially over,” said William O’Donnell Treasury strategist at RBS Markets. “As such, I still expect cash 10yrs to trade at 2.8% over the coming month.”

The prospect of higher yields has offered some support to the US dollar and it firmed to 80.868 against a basket of currencies, a long way from May’s low of 78.906.

Still, the broader moves in currencies were more about euro weakness than dollar strength as the single currency came under increasing pressure in the wake of the ECB’s easing.

The adoption of negative deposit rates by the ECB has sparked talk reserve managers at other central banks were trimming their euro holdings, and that the very low yields offered by peripheral euro zone debt was finally discouraging demand for the paper.

In commodities, gold was firm at $1,260.20 an ounce while a breakdown in strike talks in South Africa buoyed palladium and platinum.

Brent oil gained 5 cents to $109.57 a barrel, while US crude prices were flat at $104.35. Reuters

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