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Euro close to 11-month low amid Greece concern

BLOOMBERG

The euro dropped to within US$0.01 of an 11-month low against the US dollar this week as rising yields on Greece’s debt fueled speculation the nation would default, damping investor appetite for the European currency.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars gained as stocks gained for the sixth straight week, spurring investor demand for currencies linked to growth. The euro trimmed its five-day losses on Friday as Europe said it was ready to rescue Greece. Data next week may show a rise in core US consumer prices slowed, dimming chances for an interest-rate increase.

“The market had no confidence in Greece and thought default was imminent,” said Richard Franulovich, a senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp in New York.

The euro dropped 1.5 percent to ¥125.79, from ¥127.75 on April 2, a loss trimmed by a rise of 0.8 percent on Friday. The European currency weakened less than 0.1 percent to US$1.35, compared with US$1.3504 on April 2, after climbing 1 percent on Friday. It reached US$1.3283 on Thursday, less than US$0.01 above the US$1.3268 of May 7 last year.

The US dollar depreciated 1.5 percent, the biggest weekly drop since Feb. 26, to ¥93.18.

The Canadian dollar strengthened to parity with its US counterpart this week for the first time in 20 months on speculation the nation’s central bank will raise borrowing costs faster than the Federal Reserve.

Canada’s currency, nicknamed the loonie, gained 0.8 percent this week to C$1.0027 per US dollar and strengthened on Wednesday to as much as C$0.9978.

The pound climbed against the dollar for a second straight week. A report showed UK producer prices rose last month faster than economists predicted, adding to signs the recovery is gathering pace. The currency appreciated 1.1 percent to US$1.5370.

Asian currencies extended the year’s gains this week, led by Malaysia’s ringgit and the Indian rupee, on mounting speculation China is moving closer to loosening its grip on the exchange rate.

The New Taiwan dollar rose the most in a month on speculation China will resume gains in the yuan and as international investors plowed more funds into local stocks.

“People are watching the development in the yuan,” said Tarsicio Tong, a currency trader at Union Bank of Taiwan (聯邦銀行) in Taipei. “There’s some hot money coming in.”

The NT dollar appreciated 0.3 percent to NT$31.615 against its US counterpart as of the 4pm close on Friday, according to Taipei Forex Inc. The currency rose 0.5 percent this week.

Tong said the central bank would slow gains in the currency. The NT dollar reached NT$31.534 on Friday, the strongest level since Sept. 8, 2008.

The ringgit strengthened 1.8 percent this week to 3.1900 per US dollar in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. India’s rupee climbed 1.4 percent to 44.2938 and South Korea’s won appreciated 0.7 percent to 1,118.15.

The Thai baht rose to a 22-month high as speculation the yuan will strengthen helped counter concern that anti-government protests will escalate. The baht strengthened 0.3 percent for the week to 32.25 per US dollar and reached 32.24, the strongest level since May 2008.

Elsewhere, the Singapore dollar increased 0.3 percent in the five days to S$1.3928, the Indonesian rupiah gained 0.5 percent to 9,033 and the Philippine peso advanced 0.5 percent to 44.96.

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