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The dollar fell against most of its major counterparts on speculation central banks in Europe and the U.K. will seek to combat inflation from rising fuel costs by increasing interest rates before the Federal Reserve.
The euro climbed to an almost three-week high versus the greenback.
The pound gained versus the dollar as minutes of the Bank of England’s Feb. 10 meeting showed an additional policy maker backed an increase in rates.
“You’re still seeing euro and sterling who have more people on their central banks talking hawkish; it’s beneficial for their currencies against the dollar at this stage,” said Brian Kim, a currency strategist at UBS AG. Libyan and Mideast turmoil “pushes oil higher, and that feeds into commodity prices pushing short-term inflation, reinforcing perceptions those central banks may do something.”
European Central Bank policy makers will make the decisions necessary to maintain price stability, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet told reporters today. The ECB 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% limit, council member Yves Mersch said yesterday, without giving a time frame.
Governments rushed to evacuate thousands of expatriates from Libya as army units defected and a former aide to the leader Muammar Qaddafi warned that the spreading revolt may topple the regime within days. The nation holds Africa’s largest crude reserves.
Crude for April delivery rose as much as 6.8% to $99.94 a barrel in New York, the highest level since October 2008. In London, it gained as much as 5.7% to $111.85, the highest since September 2008.
Sterling gained after minutes of the Bank of England’s Feb. 10 rate decision showed Spencer Dale joined Andrew Sentance and Martin Weale in voting for higher rates as an increasing number of officials said the case for tightening policy had “grown in strength.” The central bank has held the rate at 0.5% since March 2009.
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