Euro stung by weaker data as Draghi gives ECB swansong


By Sujata Rao and Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The euro erased its earlier gains on Thursday after business surveys pointed to stagnating economic momentum in the euro zone, ahead of Mario Draghi's final news conference as president of the European Central Bank.

The ECB kept rates on hold and its ultra-easy monetary policy unchanged. Investors will be watching Draghi's news conference from 1230 GMT for any reference to a rift among policymakers about stimulus plans designed to reinvigorate the economy.

The weakness of business in the region was reaffirmed on Thursday when IHS Markit's flash composite purchasing managers' index for October, seen as a good guide to economic health, came in below forecasts and perilously close to the line separating growth from contraction.

The euro was unchanged after the ECB's decision. It had earlier given up initial gains on the weaker than expected Purchasing Managers' Index and was last flat on the day at $1.1126 EUR=EBS, having earlier traded at $1.1163.

The dollar index was flat on the day at 97.498 .DXY.

"Today is going to be all about the ECB," said Rabobank FX strategist Piotr Matys. "We don't expect the ECB to change the parameters of its monetary policy," but Draghi may use his last meeting to encourage governments to use fiscal measures to propel growth.

A trio of central bank meetings were being held on Thursday, including the ECB, the Swedish Riksbank and Norway's Norges bank.

The Swedish crown rose to its strongest against the dollar since mid-August and gained as much as 0.7% against the euro after the Riksbank stuck to its plan for raising rates in December, though it said the rate path after that was not yet clear. SEK=D3, EURSEK=D3 It kept rates steady at -0.25%.

The Norwegian crown strengthened 0.2% against the euro as the Norges Bank said rates were likely to be held at the current 1.5% rate. EURNOK=D3. The move was contained by the Swedish crown's rise. The Norwegian currency was unchanged versus the dollar NOK=D3.

"We don't think that the SEK gains will last for long, because this interest rate increase may be interpreted by the market as a policy rate mistake," said Petr Krpata, chief EMEA FX strategist and IR strategist at ING, suggesting the bank may be "hiking into a downturn".

Krpata noted that the Norwegian crown strengthened in line with the Swedish crown, meaning that its strength is "spillover from the Riksbank decision".

The Norwegian crown recently reached a record low to the euro and an 18-year low to the dollar despite rate hikes this year.

Most Asian currencies edged up in the absence of developments in the Sino-U.S. trade war.

The Australian dollar was down 0.3% AUD=D3 versus the U.S. dollar and the New Zealand dollar fell as much as 0.5% NZD=D3.

The pound weakened 0.2% to $1.2896, having chalked up 6% gains since Irish and British leaders said they could "see a possible pathway to a deal" on Oct. 10. GBP=D3.

(Additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Larry King, Toby Chopra and Hugh Lawson)


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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