Jan 8, 2009

Business - Euro Falls Against Dollar Before Jobless, Retail Sales Data

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The euro fell against the dollar before data that may show the jobless rate rose and retail sales declined in the countries that share the currency, bolstering speculation the European Central Bank will lower interest rates.

The euro also traded near a three-week low versus the yen as derivatives showed investors are betting the ECB will lower its key rate by at least a quarter of a percentage point next week. The Australian dollar weakened against the U.S. currency after home building approvals in the country slumped.

“Disappointing economic data expose the euro to selling,” said Takeshi Tokita, vice president of foreign-exchange sales in Tokyo at Mizuho Corporate Bank, a unit of Japan’s second-largest publicly traded lender. “The market is pricing in a rate cut and there is interest in selling the euro.”

The euro fell to $1.3583 as of 10:27 a.m. in Tokyo from $1.3644 late yesterday in New York. It bought 126.10 yen from 126.42 yen. The dollar traded at 92.85 yen from 92.65 yen. The pound weakened to $1.5069 from $1.5095. The euro may decline to $1.3520 today, Tokita said.

The Australian dollar declined to 70.82 U.S. cents 71.27 U.S. cents late yesterday in New York. The number of permits granted to build or renovate homes fell 12.8 percent in November, the steepest drop in six years. The Aussie, as the currency is known, also declined after oil prices plunged the most in seven years. Crude is Australia’s fourth most valuable export.

European Economy

The European unemployment rate increased to 7.8 percent in November from 7.7 percent in the previous month, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists before the release of the data at 11 a.m. in Luxembourg today. A separate report tomorrow will show retail sales in the 16 countries using the euro fell 1.7 percent in November from a year earlier after a 2.1 percent decline in the previous month, according to another survey.

The ECB cut interest rates by 1.75 percentage points since early October to 2.5 percent as the region entered a recession. Policy makers will lower the main rate by at least a quarter of a percentage point at the next meeting on Jan. 15, according to a Credit Suisse Group AG gauge based on overnight index swaps.

Gains in the dollar may be limited before U.S. government data forecast to show unemployment increased, reinforcing investor expectations for a protracted recession.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls fell 500,000 in December, bringing last year’s decline to 2.4 million, the most since 1945, according to a Bloomberg survey before Labor Department figures due tomorrow. The unemployment rate likely jumped to 7 percent, the highest level since 1993.

Labor Market

Companies in the U.S. slashed 693,000 jobs in December, the most since records began in 2001, ADP Employer Services said yesterday. The median forecast of a Bloomberg News survey of 24 economists was for a reduction of 495,000.

“The dollar is at risk of falling further,” said Tsutomu Soma, a bond and currency dealer at Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo. “The labor market is an indication that it will be a long time before the U.S. economy improves.”

The dollar may weaken to 91.80 yen and $136.90 per euro today, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stanley White in Tokyo at swhite28@bloomberg.net

1 comment:

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