By Julien Ponthus
LONDON (Reuters) – The euro held at an eight-week high against the dollar on Monday despite a disappointing sentiment survey in Germany as expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain its dovish stance at a policy meeting weighed on the greenback.
German business morale improved by less than expected in April as a third wave of COVID-19 infections and problems with supply of components in the industrial sector seemed to slow the recovery in Europe’s largest economy.
Analysts however kept focusing on the general direction of travel of the economy, seen firmly on its way out of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Notwithstanding the slight disappointment in today’s figures, the April Ifo results combine with other closely-watched surveys for the eurozone economy…in signalling momentum improvement at the start of Q2,” commented economist Ricardo Amaro at Oxford Economics.
On Friday, the common currency posted its biggest daily gains since early February after positive data on European services and manufacturing activity lifted sentiment.
Adding to the optimism, a source told Reuters that the German government has raised its growth forecast for this year to 3.5%, compared with the 3% growth it was expecting back in January.
The euro had given up the morning’s gains by around midday on the continent, to stand 0.01% lower at $1.2095, clinging to its highest levels since the beginning of March.
The dollar index was down 0.11% at 90.80, its lowest level since March 3.
The Fed’s next meeting ends on Wednesday, and while no major policy changes are expected, investors will pay close attention to comments from Chairman Jerome Powell.
Powell is likely to face questions over whether an improving labour market and rising coronavirus vaccinations warrant a withdrawal of monetary easing, but most analysts expect him to say such talk is premature, which would put downward pressure on Treasury yields and the dollar.
“The Fed has managed to convince the market that it is in no position to begin contemplating tapering, never mind raising rates, for – in their own words – ‘some time’,” John Velis, a strategist at BNY Mellon wrote to clients.
The dollar stood at 107.77 yen, close to its lowest since March 4.
The British pound was 0.1% higher at $1.3894, adding to a 0.3% gain in the previous session.
In emerging markets, the Turkish lira weakened to as much as 8.48 versus the dollar, close to its record low of 8.58 reached in early November.
The currency, among the worst performers in emerging markets this year due to worsening relations with the United States and worries about a dovish central bank governor, recouped some losses during the morning and was last quoted at 8.3150.
The onshore yuan edged up to 6.4841 per dollar, just shy of a six-week high.
Elsewhere, the Australian and New Zealand dollars rose toward one-month highs.
In the cryptocurrency market, Bitcoin reclaimed the $50,000 mark, jumping over 8% and on course to snap five straight days of losses exacerbated by U.S. President Joe Biden’s plan to raise capital gains taxes for wealthy investors.
(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)