The euro had its biggest weekly loss since December against the dollar as Greece’s anti-bailout party gained in the polls and amid a deepening crisis in Spain.
The shared currency fell for a fifth week versus the yen, the longest stretch since October, as German manufacturing shrank and the Bank of Japan (8301) refrained from adding stimulus to the economy. Brazil’s real was the only winner against the dollar as the central bank sold currency-swap contracts. The dollars of Australia and New Zealand declined as reports showed the Chinese economy is stalling. A report June 1 is forecast to show U.S. employers added more jobs in May than the prior month.
“Uncertainty is high, growth is poor and a Greek exit is a wild card,” said Aroop Chatterjee, a currency strategist at Barclays Plc’s Barclays Capital unit in New York. “It’s unlikely that the euro finds a bottom for a while even in a good state of the world.”
The euro declined 2.1 percent on the week to $1.2517, touching $1.2496, the weakest since July 2010. The 17-nation currency declined 1.2 percent to 99.75, falling below 100 for the first time since February. The Japanese currency fell 0.8 percent to 79.68 per dollar.
Hedge funds and other large speculators increased wagers the euro will decline versus the dollar to a record high for a second consecutive week. So-called net shorts increased for a third week, totaling 195,361 in the period ended May 22 compares to 173,869 for the week before, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
“Risk appetite itself has traced its undulation to the movements in the euro,” Ravi Bharadwaj, a market analyst in Washington at Western Union Co. (WU:US)’s Western Union Business Solutions unit, said May 23.
European leaders announced no new measures to stem the bloc’s crisis at a summit in Brussels this week. The gathering took place as Greece prepares to hold new elections on June 17 after an anti-bailout party surged to second place in balloting on May 6. A poll on May 24 had the Syriza party with 27.2 percent support, boosting speculation that the country may exit the currency bloc.
The euro weakened 1.2 percent against nine developed-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes, the worst performance along with the Swiss franc. The dollar gained 1.1 percent and the yen rose 0.2 percent.
The shared currency fell below $1.25 for the first time in 22 months after the president of Catalonia, one of 17 semi- autonomous regions in Spain, repeated his call for Spanish central government to help regions access funding, Standard & Poor’s cut the credit ratings of five Spanish banks and the Bankia group said it needed 19 billion euros ($23.8 billion) of government money.
A German index based on a survey of purchasing managers in the manufacturing industry declined to 45 this month from 46.2 in April, Markit Economics said May 24.
“It’s unwelcome development with German manufacturing, because typically that’s where you go looking for a silver lining in the euro,” Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York, said May 24. “The second quarter had delivered a shock to growth expectations globally.”
China may have a loan shortfall which would be the first in seven years, according an exclusive Bloomberg News report. Loan demand is drying up as Europe’s debt crisis curbs exports and demand for new homes wanes.
Australia’s dollar fell 0.9 percent to 97.58 U.S. cents. The Aussie fell to 96.90 U.S. cents on May 23, a six-month low.
New Zealand’s dollar declined 0.3 percent to 75.40 U.S. cents and touched 74.57 U.S. cents, the weakest since November. The so-called kiwi’s losses were limited as Moody’s cited the government’s deficit and debt trajectories in affirming its AAA rating.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner and is the second-biggest destination for New Zealand exports.
American employers added 150,000 jobs in May, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, after a 115,000 gain in April that missed forecasts. The jobless rate held steady at 8.1 percent, according to another survey.
The Dollar Index (DXY) rose 1.3 percent to 82.393, after touching 82.461, the strongest since September 2010. The gauge’s fourth consecutive weekly gain comes as cumulative net inflows in to U.S. Treasuries yesterday were more than double the daily average over the past year.
The Swiss franc was the biggest loser against the dollar this week, falling 2.1 percent to 95.95 centimes per dollar. It was the biggest weekly loss since Nov. 4. Switzerland’s currency touched the weakest level in two months versus the euro on May 24 amid speculation the central bank may take action to discourage investment in the nation through taxing deposits.
SNB spokeswoman Silvia Oppliger declined to comment on the Swiss franc exchange rate. Finance Ministry spokesman Roland Meier wouldn’t comment on the tax speculation.
Brazil’s real rose 1.8 percent against the dollar to 1.9874 after the central bank sold currency swaps through auction for four consecutive days to stem the largest year-to-date decline against the greenback. The real is the worst performing major currency this year and has declined 6.1 percent against the dollar. It touched a three-year low on May 18.
The nation also completely removed a tax on currency derivatives for exporters on May 23, said Alexandre Andrade, an official at the tax agency.
The yen had its biggest weekly decline against the dollar since March 16 as Fitch Ratings cut the nation’s credit ranking, saying it isn’t acting quickly enough to tackle its public-debt burden.
Losses were limited as the BOJ kept its asset-purchase fund at 40 trillion yen ($502 billion) at a meeting May 23, after expanding it by 10 trillion yen last month. The central bank also left a credit-lending program at 30 trillion yen, it said in a statement in Tokyo. The policy board kept the key overnight lending rate between zero and 0.1 percent.
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