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Euro Mixed After Eurozone Employment Report

The euro showed mixed trading against its major rivals on Thursday following a report showed that the employment rate in the eurozone fell in the fourth quarter.

While the single currency edged lower against the yen, it remained its recent consolidation against the rest of majors.

The number of employed persons in Eurozone fell 0.2 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter, the same rate of decline as seen in the third quarter, Eurostat said today.

The largest sequential fall in employment was recorded in construction and the highest increase in real estate activities.

On a yearly basis, employment slipped 0.2 percent, wiping out the third quarter's 0.2 percent rise. Over the whole year 2011, employment increased by 0.2 percent.

European equities were mixed as renewed concerns about Chinese growth tempered increasing optimism over the recovery in the U.S. economy.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday warned that the nation must embrace slower growth and bolder political reforms as it grapples with the implications of the shift in its economy from an investment-led growth module to one of greater consumption.

The downbeat comments along with market reports that China is already in the midst of a so-called 'hard landing' prompted investors to take some profits after recent gains.

Thus far, the U.K. FTSE 100 index slipped 0.07 percent and France's CAC-40 index dropped to 0.04 percent, while Germany's DAX rose almost 0.3 percent.

The euro reached 108.92 against the yen, down by more than 0.7 percent from Asian session's fresh 2-week high of 109.66. The pair is about to form a double-top reversal in the daily chart and is likely to target support around the 107.40 level.

The euro failed to break above yesterday's fresh 2-month peak of 1.2149 against the Swiss franc, falling as low as 1.2088 before holding steady around 4:30 am ET. The euro is presently quoted at 1.2110.

The franc gained after the Swiss National Bank decided to maintain its three-month Libor rate close to zero, as expected. The target range for the three-month Libor will remain unchanged at 0.00-0.25 percent.

The SNB said it is prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities and maintain liquidity on the money market at an exceptionally high level. The central bank also said it will continue to enforce the minimum exchange rate of CHF 1.20 per euro.

Meanwhile, the latest report from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) showed that the Swiss economy will likely expand at a faster-than-estimated pace this year.

The common currency consolidated against the dollar, having recovered from Asian session's 4-week low of 1.3005. The euro-dollar pair moved in a broad range of 1.3070 and 1.3030.

The euro that advanced to a 2-day high of 0.8352 against the pound around 5:10 am ET staged a brief reversal shortly thereafter. The pair then moved in range-bound, trading between 0.8350 and 0.8325.

Fitch Ratings downgraded the UK's credit rating outlook to 'negative' from 'stable', citing the economy's vulnerability to adverse economic shocks due to high indebtedness and weak economic outlook.

The revision reflects "the very limited fiscal space to absorb further adverse economic shocks in light of such elevated debt levels and a potentially weaker than currently forecast economic recovery," the agency said.

The 'negative' outlook indicates a slightly greater than 50 percent chance of a downgrade over a two-year horizon, given still large structural budget deficit, government debt and considerable uncertainty around the economic and fiscal outlook, including the risks posed to economic recovery by the ongoing Eurozone crisis.

Looking ahead, the U.S. PPI for February, weekly jobless claims for the week ended March 10, results of the New York Federal Reserve's empire state manufacturing survey for March, and the results of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's manufacturing survey for March are expected in the New York morning session.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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