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08.03.2012 19:38

American focus: the euro strengthened on speculation Greece will attract enough investors to make its debt-swap plan a success

The euro strengthened  on speculation Greece will attract enough investors to make its debt-swap plan a success, adding to optimism the region’s debt crisis will be contained.

The common currency rose for a second day versus the dollar after the European Central Bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged and President Mario Draghi said recent surveys showed signs of economic stabilization.

The dollar had gained against most major currencies in the period as investors sought safety on concern the Greek debt swap might unravel.

Greece’s largest banks, most of the country’s pension funds, and more than 30 European banks and insurers including BNP Paribas SA, Commerzbank AG (CBK) and Assicurazioni Generali SpA (G) have agreed to the offer.

Speaking at a press conference in Frankfurt after the ECB meeting, Draghi said “the risk environment has improved enormously” and recent surveys “confirm signs of a stabilization” in the euro-area economy. The outlook is “still subject to downside risks,” he said. Policy makers didn’t discuss changing interest rates at their meeting, Draghi said.

The number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits rose 8,000 to 362,000 last week, the Labor Department said, keeping the average over the past four weeks close to a four- year low. A report from the Department tomorrow will show that employers added 208,000 jobs last month, according to the median estimate of economists.

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