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Friday March 27, 2009 - 23:13:01 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Dollar shines vs euro on U.S. stocks fall, ECB view

Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:41pm EDT

* Dollar gains vs euro as stocks weaken

* Euro slides on Steinbrueck's comments, weak data

* Euro posts biggest one-day slide vs dollar since Jan (Adds comment, updates prices)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - The dollar rose on Friday, posting its largest one-day gain against the euro in more than two months, boosted by a growing view that the European Central Bank may be the next to purchase its own bonds to stimulate growth.

Weak U.S. stocks also drew safe-haven bids toward the dollar compared with the single euro-zone currency. The currency was further pressured by comments from German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck suggesting fiscal irresponsibility in Europe could put the euro at risk.

"U.S. equity markets are weak and that has helped the dollar rally versus the euro; but in the background, people are also thinking that the the ECB could potentially move toward quantitative easing," said David Watt, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

Several European officials over the past week have indicated an openness to quantitative easing, or the process of flooding the banking system with funds to promote lending when interest rates are already at zero.

Watt said the the dollar's rally was a "general unwinding of its sell-off" when the Federal Reserve announced last week that it would buy long-term U.S. government debt.

In late afternoon trading, the euro was down 1.8 percent at $1.3293 <EUR=> from an intraday high of $1.3591, according to Reuters data. The euro posted its worst one-day performance since Jan. 9.

The euro hit a weekly low of $1.3258, severely testing the strength of long-term technical support at the 200-week moving average of $1.3380. The currency was down 2.5 percent for the week, its worst against the dollar since Jan. 25.

The yen, meanwhile, rallied broadly on flows related to last-minute fund repatriation by investors in Japan ahead of the annual book-closing on March 31.

The euro slid 2.6 percent against the yen to 130.13 yen <EURJPY=>, while the dollar was down 0.8 percent at 97.910 <JPY=>.


The euro's decline was initially triggered by remarks from Germany's Steinbrueck earlier in the session.

The finance minister said: "Germany, as a member of the EU, has a massive interest in the credibility of the Stability and Growth Pact, which, as you know, is not taken so seriously by some."

"If it is not taken seriously, I am telling you, the euro will have trouble one day in terms of its own credibility and stability," he told the German Parliament. For details, see [ID:nLR49443]

The euro was also weighed down by weaker-than-forecast euro zone industrial orders and German inflation data. The reports also fanned quantitative easing prospects at the ECB. [ID:nLR236361] [ID:nLr171136]

"The need for ... quantitative easing by the Fed recently is slowly being seen as the necessary evil and likely to be adopted across each G10 nation," said Andrew Wilkinson, market analyst at Interactive Brokers in Greenwich, Connecticut.

"There should have been further follow-through euro buying as the view became the new anti-dollar regime. But the fact was there was none and as more up-to-date comments and data are digested by the market, the euro is fast losing its luster," he added.

Sterling fell to a one-week low versus the dollar at $1.4270, hurt by data showing the UK in the fourth quarter of last year suffered the biggest contraction in economic growth since 1980. [ID:nLR953228]

The pound was last down 0.8 percent at $1.4317 <GBP=>.

The dollar's broad gains were also supported by comments from a senior Russian central bank official and the International Monetary Fund's managing director that the dollar will remain the world's reserve currency for some time. [ID:nLR286338] [ID:nWBT010958]

These remarks cooled some of the fervor surrounding the debate on the dollar's long-term standing as the top reserve currency.

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