On Thursday, the euro maintained near its three-year high while shares edged back as traders waited to see whether the European Central Bank would make a move to slow the currency’s hottest rally in just about four years. The concerns regarding U.S. protectionism maintained a weak dollar following its worst day in six months, but it was the ECB’s first meeting of 2018 that was in the spotlight.
The euro hit three-year high of over $1.24 on Thursday, which could hinder inflation and jeopardize the work done by years of unprecedented stimulus. Euro zone bonds were once again lowering the premium offered by former debt crisis countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain compared with ultra-safe German debt.
Oil prices, which are a key influence of inflation, hit $71 per barrel for the first time since 2014 in Asian trading.
“The rate of change (in the euro) might make the ECB a little uncomfortable,” said head of macro strategy, Tim Graf. “They can’t push back too much on the fruits of their success, but you may well get comments around excessive currency volatility.”
It was a muted start for European shares due to the uncertainty regarding the ECB. The pan-European STOXX 600 barely moved as Germany’s DAX index dropped 0.2 percent to counteract the small gains attained on London’s FTSE and France’s CAC 40.
Sterling hit its highest in six months versus the euro, following its drop to its pre-Brexit vote levels against the dollar earlier this week.
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In the tech sector, Software AG declined 3.7 percent as it reported a fall in core profits, while Nordic bank Nordea’s results also proved a downbeat.
For the ninth straight session, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan touched an all-time high. But Japan’s Nikkei declined 1.1 percent, hurt by the yen’s most recent advance against the dollar.
MSCI, the index provider’s broadest gauge of the world’s stock markets, secured over 6.5 percent gains for so far this month
Trump is scheduled to arrive in Davos on Thursday. Also, in Davos, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made unexpected comment regarding the dollar stating “obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities.”
The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies plunged to a three-year low of 88.816 prior to stabilizing in European trading. The greenback has declined 1.9 percent for the week.