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09.03.2011 18:46

American focus:

The euro fell against most of its peers after Portugal was forced to pay more at a debt auction than it has in the past, indicating concern the region is struggling to contain its sovereign-debt crisis.
Portugal sold 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) of securities due September 2013. The bonds were issued at an average yield of 5.993 percent, the country’s debt management agency said. That compares with an average yield of 4.086 percent at a previous auction of the same-maturity debt on Sept. 8. The auction attracted bids for 1.6 times the amount offered, compared with a bid-to-cover ratio of 1.9 in September.
The 17-nation currency rose earlier on speculation the European Central Bank asked for prices to purchase the securities of the region’s most indebted nations. The central bank inquired about prices for Irish bonds and didn’t buy, according to two traders with knowledge of the matter.
The Swiss franc rose against all of its 16 most-traded counterparts as crude oil prices increased on concern turmoil in North Africa and the Mideast will disrupt supply, encouraging investors to seek refuge.
“We’re seeing some pretty strong inflows getting back into the Swiss franc,” said Samarjit Shankar, a managing director for the foreign-exchange group in Boston at Bank of New York Mellon, the world’s largest custodial bank, with more than $20 trillion in assets under administration. “There are some undercurrents of risk aversion.”
Crude oil gained 0.3 percent to $105.33 a barrel in New York. It reached a two and a half year high of $106.95 earlier this week.
Currencies of commodity-exporting countries strengthened against the dollar as raw materials rose for an eight day in nine.
New Zealand’s dollar traded little changed before a central bank meeting at 20:00 GMT to discuss interest-rate policy.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand will probably cut its key rate by 50 basis points. Some expect a 25-basis-point cut. Central bank Governor Alan Bollard needs to revive stalled growth after last month’s earthquake in Christchurch, the nation’s deadliest in 80 years.

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