European focus: The euro rose above $1.4000
The euro traded 0.2 percent from the strongest in four months against the dollar as data show investor confidence in the region reached the highest since 2007.
The 17-nation currency touched a six-week high against the pound on speculation European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet will reiterate today that an interest-rate increase may come as early as April.
The yen rose against most of its major peers on speculation Japanese companies bought the currency to bring home overseas earnings before the financial year ends.
The pound strengthened against the dollar for the first day in three as investors bet the Bank of England will raise borrowing costs before the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Sterling was little changed versus the euro. The central bank will raise its key interest rate by June, according to sterling overnight index average forwards data from Tullett Prebon Plc, while futures trading in the U.S. shows the Federal Reserve is likely to keep its key rate close to zero until next year. Policy makers will maintain the U.K. rate at 0.5 percent on March 10, according to all 61 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
“The yield differential is the major driver of currency markets at the moment,” said Lee Hardman, a currency strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubihsi UFJ Ltd. in London. “My sense is that the pound could strengthen into the Bank of England meeting, but it’s unlikely to extend those gains after the meeting unless the BOE surprises and tightens policy.”
Rate increases will probably come at a “slow and steady” pace starting in the next quarter to prevent soaring inflation from becoming embedded in the “national psyche,” the Confederation of British Industry said today.