Euro falls, stocks fluctuate while Treasuries gain before ECB

The euro weakened as European Central Bank policy makers prepared to meet tomorrow amid renewed concern the debt crisis will worsen. U.S. stocks fluctuate while Treasuries gained.

The euro depreciated 0.4 percent to $1.3524 at 3:48 p.m. in New York, while the dollar gained versus 14 of 16 major peers. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was little changed after erasing an early 0.4 percent drop. The 10-year Treasury yield fell three basis points to 1.96 percent and the rate on German bunds lost two points to 1.63 percent. Russia’s 2027 ruble bonds snapped a seven-day slide on plans to open the market to foreign investors. Oil reversed a 1.7 percent drop.

ECB President Mario Draghi will head a meeting of policy makers meet tomorrow in Frankfurt as euro-area leaders gather for a summit in Brussels. The euro has retreated from a 14-month high against the dollar reached on Feb. 1 as Spain’s premier faced opposition calls to resign. Stocks and U.S. equity-index futures gained earlier today as company earnings from ArcelorMittal to Walt Disney Co. beat estimates.

“It feels like we’re starting a rotation of worry back to Europe again,” Sandy Lincoln, the Chicago-based chief market strategist in the U.S. with BMO Global Asset Management, which oversees about $120 billion, said in a telephone interview. “This is a very fragile environment so whenever you have glass that’s out there that can break easily, people get themselves concerned.”

‘Still Struggling’

The euro slipped against 13 of its 16 major counterparts, losing 0.8 percent versus the yen. Australia’s dollar slid against 15 of 16 peers after retail sales unexpectedly dropped for a third month. The JPMorgan G7 Volatility Index, calculated based on premiums on currency options, climbed as high as 9.6 percent, the most since July 25.

The 17-nation euro also slid as Spain’s premier resisted opposition calls to resign and Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA faced criminal probes over losses it hid in 2008 and 2009 using derivatives, while Greece’s finance minister said the shared currency’s strength is a concern. The shared currency last week reached the strongest level since 2011.

The ECB “is not only governing a region which is still struggling to achieve growth but also has to cope with a currency which is at risk of becoming too strong,” Adrian van Tiggelen, senior investment specialist in The Hague at ING Investment Management, which oversees more than $400 billion, said in a note today. “If this trend continues the ECB may be forced to lower interest rates even further and, or, make a less conservative use of the printing press.”

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