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On Monday the euro touched its strongest level in two weeks versus the dollar after German business confidence unexpectedly increased to a nine-month high, fueling investor appetite for risk. The Munich-based Ifo institute said its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, rose to 109.9 this month from 109.8 in March. The 17-nation currency gained for a fourth day versus the yen amid bets the International Monetary Fund will increase its lending capacity to help keep Europe’s debt crisis contained. Governments are leaning toward committing more than $400 billion in fresh funding for the IMF to help it protect the world economy against more fiscal turmoil in Europe.
On Tuesday the euro strengthened against most of its major counterparts after Spain, Italy and the Netherlands sold bonds, damping concern the region’s sovereign-debt crisis is worsening. Spain’s bonds gained, pushing yields on two-year notes down 14 basis points, or 0.14 percentage point, to 3.43 percent after the nation sold 1.9 billion euros ($2.5 billion) of bills. The maximum target was 2 billion euros. Two-year Dutch note yields fell the most in almost five months as the Netherlands sold securities due in 2014 and 2037. Italy’s yields dropped after the nation sold 2.5 billion euros of zero-coupon notes.
On Wednesday the dollar rose against the euro and the yen after the Federal Reserve refrained from new actions to stimulate the economy. The Fed kept intact its program to exchange $400 billion in shorter-term holdings for longer-term debt, dubbed Operation Twist and scheduled to expire in June. Policy makers led by Bernanke are holding off on additional steps to boost the economy amid signs the more than two-year expansion is gaining strength. Still, the jobless rate isn’t declining fast enough to satisfy central bankers, who repeated their view that borrowing costs are likely to remain “exceptionally low” at least through late 2014.
On Thursday the yen gained as a report showed economic confidence in the euro region fell in April, boosting demand for the safety of the Japanese currency.
The European Commission said in Brussels an index of executive and consumer sentiment in the 17-nation euro area slid to 92.8 from a revised 94.5 in March. The median estimate in survey was for a drop to 94.2 from a previously reported 94.4. The yen reversed two days of declines even before a Bank of Japan meets, with economists saying policy makers will unveil new easing measures.
On Friday the yen rose against most of its major counterparts after the U.S. economy grew less than forecast and Standard & Poor’s cut Spain’s credit rating, adding to concern Europe’s debt crisis is worsening. The yen also gained amid concern new Bank of Japan stimulus won’t be enough to boost the nation’s growth. The Japanese central bank increased the total size of its stimulus programs by 5 trillion yen ($62 billion). It’s boosting its asset-purchase fund to 40 trillion yen by June 2013, versus the previous target of 30 trillion yen by year-end, while paring by 5 trillion yen a separate program that provides funds to banks.
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