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The euro gained for the first time in three days versus the dollar on speculation rising fuel costs will put further pressure on European Central Bank policy makers to combat inflation with higher interest rates.
Oil prices surged to a two-year high amid intensifying violence in Libya.
“The market is focusing more on prospects for higher interest rates and this speculation should offer further relief for the European unit,” said Roberto Mialich, a senior currency strategist at UniCredit SpA in Milan. “The Federal Reserve’s position is very clear; the U.S. outlook is still uncertain and they don’t want to raise rates too soon.”
ECB officials will “inevitably” have to “rebalance our monetary policy stance,” with the 17-nation euro-area economy strengthening and inflation in breach of the central bank’s 2 percent limit, council member Yves Mersch said yesterday, without giving a time frame. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and council member Guy Quaden will speak in Liege, Belgium, later today.
The pound gained versus the dollar and euro as minutes of the Bank of England’s Feb. 10 interest-rate meeting showed three members of the policy-setting committee voted for an increase.
Spencer Dale joined Andrew Sentance and Martin Weale in voting for an interest-rate increase by the Bank of England this month as a growing number of officials said the case for tightening policy had “grown in strength,” minutes released in London today showed.
The New Zealand dollar, known as the kiwi, strengthened earlier after Moody’s Investors Service said it sees no immediate impact from the Christchurch earthquake on the nation’s Aaa credit rating.
US data continues at 1500GMT, when the pace of existing home sales is forecast to slow to 5.25 million in January following the 12.3% surge in December.
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