By Hannah Lang
– The euro plunged to a two-year low against the U.S. dollar on Thursday as comments from European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde were viewed as a sign that the ECB was in no rush to raise interest rates, in contrast with an aggressive monetary policy tightening effort by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The European single currency fell to $1.0758, the lowest level since April 2020. It was last down 0.53% at $1.0827.
Lagarde said there was no clear timeframe for when rates would start to rise, adding that it could be weeks or even several months after the end of the ECB‘s stimulus scheme.
“We’ll deal with interest rates when we get there,” she added.
The ECB on Thursday concluded its latest meeting with cautious steps to unwind support and avoided a hard schedule. It confirmed plans to cut bond purchases, commonly known as quantitative easing, this quarter, then end them at some point in the third quarter.
Against sterling, the euro slid to a one-month low and was last down 0.28% at 82.79 pence.
Lagarde’s comments were in stark contrast to those of Fed Chair Jerome Powell, said Joseph Trevisani, senior analyst at FXStreet.com.
“They could have taken a book from what Jerome Powell has done, and that is to be aggressive rhetorically. Ms. Lagarde did not seem disposed to do that. She was more concerned apparently, and maybe understandably, about the Ukraine war and its impact on Europe,” he said.
In addition to pushing up gasoline prices, the Russia-Ukraine war, now in its second month, has led to a global surge in food prices as Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of commodities including wheat and sunflower oil.
“Frankly, given how uncertain conditions are at the moment, Lagarde’s caution can be justified, but it is fair to say that markets were expecting a bit more sprinkle after the eventful March meeting,” said Ima Sammani, FX market analyst at Monex Europe.
In late afternoon trading, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against six peers, rose 0.544% to 100.33 after earlier hitting 100.76, the highest level since April 2020.
The dollar extended gains after data showed U.S. retail sales increased in March, mostly boosted by higher gasoline and food prices.
The battered yen saw some respite, making a small recovery from a 20-year low hit against the dollar. In afternoon trading, it weakened 0.25% versus the greenback at 125.94 per dollar.
More than three-quarters of Japanese firms say the yen has declined to the point of being detrimental to their business, a Reuters poll found.
Other central banks tightened monetary policy, reinforcing expectations of higher interest rates globally.
The Bank of Korea surprised markets with a rate hike, while the Monetary Authority of Singapore also tightened policy, sending the Singapore dollar to its highest level since February.
On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand both raised rates by 50 basis points, the largest hike for each in around 20 years. [CAD/]
Bitcoin last fell 3.53% to $39,784.82.
Currency bid prices at 3:44PM (1944 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Dollar index 100.3200 99.7870 +0.54% 4.868% +100.7600 +99.5670
Euro/Dollar $1.0827 $1.0893 -0.62% -4.78% +$1.0924 +$1.0758
Dollar/Yen 125.9500 125.6600 +0.25% +9.43% +126.0100 +125.0950
Euro/Yen 136.35 136.83 -0.35% +4.63% +136.9300 +135.5300
Dollar/Swiss 0.9426 0.9347 +0.86% +3.34% +0.9433 +0.9324
Sterling/Dollar $1.3076 $1.3117 -0.29% -3.29% +$1.3147 +$1.3034
Dollar/Canadian 1.2616 1.2564 +0.42% -0.21% +1.2641 +1.2522
Aussie/Dollar $0.7417 $0.7453 -0.47% +2.05% +$0.7468 +$0.7397
Euro/Swiss 1.0205 1.0180 +0.25% -1.58% +1.0213 +1.0140
Euro/Sterling 0.8278 0.8302 -0.29% -1.45% +0.8314 +0.8251
NZ $0.6789 $0.6798 -0.09% -0.77% +$0.6834 +$0.6768
Dollar/Norway 8.7750 8.7565 +0.74% +0.14% +8.8330 +8.7380
Euro/Norway 9.5032 9.5206 -0.18% -5.09% +9.5624 +9.4912
Dollar/Sweden 9.5185 9.4714 -0.12% +5.55% +9.5755 +9.4191
Euro/Sweden 10.3045 10.3173 -0.12% +0.69% +10.3266 +10.2789