Euro holds gains as traders brace for ECB meeting

FILE PHOTO: A man is seen in front of a sheet of five Euro notes at the opening of the new Central Bank of Ireland offices in Dublin, Ireland April 24, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

September 10, 2020

By Stanley White

TOKYO (Reuters) – The euro held onto gains against the dollar on Thursday as traders braced for a European Central Bank meeting to gauge policymakers’ views on the common currency’s recent appreciation and its impact on inflation.

Sterling steadied above a six-week low but could face more losses due to growing concern that Britain and the European Union will fail to agree a trade deal.

While markets expect the ECB to keep policy steady, investors will closely watch President Christine Lagarde’s comments on how the euro’s rise to a two-year high this month affects the outlook for inflation and economic growth.

“The ECB is this week’s biggest event by far and there is a lot at stake,” said Masaru Ishibashi, joint general manager of trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

“Most recently, the ECB downplayed inflation, but I want to see how Lagarde will approach this in her press conference. This will determine which way the euro goes.”

The euro <EUR=D3> bought $1.1807 in Asia on Thursday, holding onto a 0.3% gain from the previous session.

The British pound <GBP=D3> traded at $1.3307, recovering slightly from a dip to a six-week low of $1.2839 on Wednesday.

The pound <EURGBP=D3> also pulled back from a six-week low against the euro to trade at 90.79 pence.

Sentiment for cable has taken a hit after Britain unveiled draft legislation that analysts say raises the possibility of it exiting the EU single market in four months time with no trade agreement in place.

The dollar held steady against the safe-harbour Swiss franc <CHF=EBS> at 0.9120 and was little changed at 106.20 yen <JPY=D3>.

The euro got a boost on Wednesday after Bloomberg News reported that ECB officials are growing more confident in the bloc’s economic outlook.

However, traders may be reluctant to buy the common currency further before the ECB meeting due to earlier media reports that officials are growing uncomfortable with the euro’s almost 6% appreciation against the dollar from its June low.

The ECB’s views are also in the spotlight after euro-zone consumer prices turned negative in August for the first time since 2016, and the U.S. Federal Reserve switched to focusing on average inflation.

With no major economic data scheduled during Asian trading, market moves could be subdued as investors wait for potential ECB catalysts.

Traders in the dollar are closely watching global equities to see if a rebound in U.S. tech shares from a rapid sell-off will support riskier assets in other markets.

The dollar index <=USD> against a basket of six major currencies slipped 0.3% to 93.261.

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar <AUD=D3> edged slightly lower to $0.7275 as investors nervously monitor an outbreak of coronavirus infections in the state of Victoria.

Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand dollar <NZD=D3> was little changed at $0.6680.

(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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