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Euro at one-week highs as rate hike bets grow

The euro perked up to a one-week high on Thursday as market expectations solidified for a first interest rate hike from the European Central Bank as early as July.

Joachim Nagel, president of Germany’s Bundesbank, joined fellow policymakers this week in saying the ECB could raise interest rates at the start of the third quarter.. Another policymaker Martins Kazaks said this week a rate hike in July “was possible”.

Against the U.S. dollar, the euro rose 0.4% to $1.0895 and its highest levels since April 14. The euro’s rise was quite broad-based, with the currency chalking up gains versus the yen, Swiss franc and Norwegian crown.

“The euro is all about ECB drumbeat for a July hike,” said Kenneth Broux, an FX strategist at Societe Generale in London.

Money markets are now pricing in a 20 basis point rise from the ECB by July and more than 70 basis points of cumulative increases by the end of 2022. That would take benchmark interest rates above zero for the first time since 2013.

European political news was also supportive. French President Emmanuel Macron cleared a major hurdle ahead of Sunday’s runoff election with a combative performance in a TV debate against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The Chinese yuan was the big loser in early London trading, its offshore unit declining nearly half a percent to 6.47 yuan per dollar and its lowest levels since September.

The Chinese currency has been hit by a double whammy of slowing growth expectations and shrinking yield differentials between Chinese and U.S. government debt.

Yield differentials between 10-year Chinese and U.S. government debt fell on Wednesday into negative territory for the first time since 2010.

A broader index of the U.S. dollar was down 0.4% at 99.97.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Bradley Perrett)

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