The euro strengthened from a four- month low against the dollar as Cyprus sought alternatives to the European Union plan to help the nation avoid a banking collapse and the Federal Reserve maintained stimulus measures.
The dollar remained lower against the 17-nation currency after the Federal Reserve said it will continue buying $85 billion of bond per month as it seeks to reduce the unemployment rate that hasn’t fallen below 7% since November 2008. The euro rose after the European Central Bank’s pledge to provide liquidity to Cyprus gave the nation time to renegotiate a financial rescue and on speculation that Russia may provide aid. The yen fell against all of its 16 most-traded peers.
“I wonder if people are starting move beyond this a little bit, especially if they see something that says aid is possible from Russia, allowing them to bridge this gap,” Brian Kim, a foreign-exchange strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s RBS Securities unit in Stamford, Connecticut, said in a telephone interview.
The euro advanced 0.6% to $1.2954 at 2:43 p.m. New York time, after sliding to $1.2844 yesterday, the weakest level since Nov. 22. The common currency strengthened 1.4% to 124.23 yen. Japan’s currency weakened 0.8% to 95.93 per dollar.
Mexico’s peso rose versus most of its 16 major peers after policy makers signaled they will keep benchmark borrowing costs unchanged after cutting them earlier this month. The country isn’t planning measures to curb the peso’s gains this year, Deputy Finance Minister Fernando Aportela said March 17.
The peso rose 0.6% to 12.3682 per dollar, touching the strongest level since September 2011.
Hungary’s forint strengthened for a second day, and the most against the greenback of its 31 most-traded peers, amid speculation the country will avoid dramatic policy measures to help foreign-currency debtors.
The forint appreciated 0.2% to 304.85 per euro and 0.7% to 235.40 to the dollar.
South Africa’s currency fell for a second day as the country’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a fourth meeting as a slump in the rand stoked inflation, preventing policy makers from providing further stimulus to spur economic growth.
The rand weakened 0.7% to 9.3065 per dollar and touched the lowest level since April 2009.
Cyprus hasn’t reached any deal with Russian investors for the sale of Cyprus Popular Bank Plc, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said in a telephone interview in Nicosia today. A preliminary deal to sell the bank to Russian investors was reached, Kathimerini Cyprus reported earlier, without citing anyone.
“The market is looking for some kind of a resolution to this issue,” Fabian Eliasson, vice president of corporate foreign-exchange sales at Mizuho Financial Group Inc. in New York, said of the Russian-investor speculation on a Cypriot bank.
The ECB is likely to delay a decision on whether to continue to supply Cypriot banks with emergency funds as it awaits clarity on the nation’s bailout, two people familiar with the deliberations said. The ECB assumes that a bank holiday in Cyprus will be extended to the end of the week, the people said.
“The ECB statement that they are going to provide more liquidity means there is some time for renegotiation for Cyprus, so that’s a positive,” said Lutz Karpowitz, a senior foreign- exchange strategist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “As long as there is still some room for further negotiations, the market is relatively relaxed. If there is more and more impression that there won’t be a solution, then there may be more weakness in the euro.”
The euro may weaken to $1.25, the lowest since August, if no solution for Cyprus is found, Karpowitz said.
Europe will find a resolution for Cyprus, said Laurence D. Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager.
“It’s not a really major economic issue,” Fink said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong. “It’s a $10 billion issue. It does remind us of the frailty of Europe. It does remind us that the European fix will be multiple years.”
The euro has dropped 1.2% during the past month, the second-worst performer after Norway’s krone among 10 developed- market currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes. The yen weakened 0.7% and the dollar strengthened 1.7%.
The pound reversed an earlier decline against the dollar after minutes of the Bank of England’s March 6-7 meeting showed a majority of policy makers said more bond purchases may erode their credibility.
The pound gained 0.1% to $1.5119 after weakening as much as 0.5%.