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Meeting could bring euro strength

Published:  02 December, 2010

Sterling slipped against a slightly stronger euro yesterday after investors held back on selling the single currency ahead of today's European Central Bank interest rate policy meeting.

Currency rates, December 2:
EURO/GBP - 1.1871
US$/GBP - 1.5607
CHF/GBP - 1.5645
CAN$/GBP - 1.5836
AUS$/GBP - 1.6138
ZAR/GBP - 10.903
JPY/GBP - 131.065
HKD/GBP - 12.129
NZD/GBP - 2.069
SEK/GBP - 10.878
US$/EURO - 1.3139

Earlier in the day, sterling stopped just shy of the €1.20/£1 mark, hitting €1.1995/£1 as purchasing manager data for the UK manufacturing sector came in far better than expected. However, ahead of today's ECB meeting, investors scaled back on the amount of 'short positions' (i.e. bets against the euro) in case the meeting revealed something that brought euro strength.

The manufacturing data did help sterling recover some ground against the US dollar, reaching a daily high of $1.5649/£1 after dropping to a two month low of $1.5485/£1 on Tuesday. In terms of data released today, there is construction purchasing manager data which could cause similar movement.

In the Euro zone, there was a level of respite in the European bond markets yesterday which helped the euro recover some ground against sterling and US dollar. On Tuesday, bonds for 'peripheral' Euro zone countries (Spain, Portugal and Italy) took a veritable hammering as investors speculated that these countries would also need bailouts in the coming months. Despite this respite, many analysts still expect the euro to continue on a downward to trend against sterling, so if you are still holding euros with a view to moving them into sterling, now might be a good time to think about exchanging them.

In the USA, the US dollar fell by over 1% against the euro ahead of the ECB's interest rate meeting today in which many analysts speculated that the European Bank would announce measures to prevent further bailouts from crippling the region. In addition, there were also rumours that the USA would help support the region with higher contributions to the International Monetary Fund.
Elsewhere, the euro's rise yesterday also saw other 'high risk' currencies post gains.

The Australian dollar climbed by 0.6% against both the US dollar and sterling despite falling earlier in the day on poor economic figures. South African rand gained by 1.2% against sterling after similar risk related buying.

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