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The euro strengthened against the dollar and yen on speculation a European Central Bank allotment of three-year loans to banks tomorrow will bolster investor appetite for the region’s assets. After lending euro-region banks a record 489 billion euros ($658 billion) in its first longer-term refinancing operation, or LTRO, on Dec. 21, the Frankfurt-based ECB tomorrow will probably grant them another 470 billion euros this week. Using the operations, banks can borrow from the ECB at around 1 percent and invest the proceeds in higher-yielding securities such as the 10-year Italian government bond, yielding 5.35 percent. The 17-nation currency earlier pared its gain against the greenback after Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said the nation will hold a referendum to ratify the European fiscal compact, raising concern about the measure’s implementation.
The Dollar Index, which IntercontinentalExchange Inc. uses to track the greenback against the currencies of six major U.S. trading partners, fell 0.3 percent to 78.299 after touching 78.219, the lowest since Dec. 8. The Conference Board’s U.S. consumer confidence index climbed to 70.8 this month, a 12-month high, from 61.5 in January, figures from the New York-based private research group showed.
The pound approached a three-week high against the dollar after the Confederation of British Industry said its retail sales gauge rose in February to the highest reading in eight months, boosting speculation the nation will avoid a recession. The gauge increased to minus 2 from minus 22 the previous month, the London-based business lobby said in a report today. A measure of expected sales for next month was at 2, indicating retailers expect sales to improve in March, the report showed.
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