LONDON (Reuters) - The euro and growth-linked currencies may fall on Monday, hit by a lack of concrete measures from Group of Seven finance chiefs to address either faltering growth, the escalating euro zone debt crisis, or exchange rate volatility.
The dollar, yen and, to a lesser extent, Swiss franc are set to advance with more investors seeking safe-haven currencies on the back of rising financial market stress.
That will raise the risk of more solo intervention from Japanese and Swiss authorities.
The flight to safety should drive core government bonds like German Bunds and British gilts higher, leading to wider spreads over euro zone peripheral debt, while European banking shares may ease on mounting worries about contagion engulfing bigger economies like Italy and Spain.
Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations pledged to respond in a concerted matter to a global slowdown. However, they offered no specific steps and differed in emphasis on Europe’s debt crisis.
That will likely offer little solace to investors who had expected some sort of coordinated policy response from G7 policymakers at a time when stock markets have been falling and global growth in showing increasing signs of stalling.
“As this falls short of any commitment to undertake co-ordinated action in currency markets, investors are likely to react with disappointment when trading resumes on Monday,” said Mansoor Mohi-uddin, head of foreign exchange strategy at UBS.
He expected Japan to stay on intervention watch.
Japan’s finance minister, Jun Azumi, said he met with little resistance to further intervention at the G7 meeting. Japan last intervened in the currency market on August 4 to topple the yen from a record high against the dollar.
“We expect Japan’s authorities will act again unilaterally if dollar/yen tests its post-war lows of 75.95 yen. As a result we think investors should instead keep favoring the dollar now when they seek safe-haven currencies,” UBS’s Mohi-uddin said.
The dollar index, which measures its performance against a basket of six currencies which includes the euro, yen and sterling, rose to its highest in six months at 77.276 on Friday.
In a bullish signal, it closed above its 55-week moving average at 77.01. Resistance was seen at the base of the weekly Ichimoku cloud around 78.05, while strong resistance was at the 38.2 percent retracement of the index’s fall from a high of 88.71 on June 7, 2010 to a low of 72.696 on May 4, 2011 which comes in at 78.80.
The dollar is set to make strong gains against the euro, which last week fell to its lowest in six months, at around $1.3627. The euro posted its biggest weekly fall since mid-August last year, with many looking for it to test $1.35 in the near term.
The euro also fell sharply against the safe-haven Japanese yen on Friday, dropping to its lowest in nearly a decade. It ended the week at 105.85 yen, and a break below the psychologically key 105.00 level could see it drop toward 100 yen in coming weeks, analysts said.
Howard Wheeldon, a strategist at BCG Capital Partners, said the weekend’s developments provided little confidence to investors in the euro zone, and the coming week will see increased volatility in stock markets.
That could hurt the euro more in coming days.
The euro was sold off last week after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet shifted the monetary stance from a hawkish bias to a more neutral one.
The shock resignation of ECB board member Juergen Stark, which highlighted sharp divisions within the central bank over purchases of government bonds in the secondary market and concerns that Greece may not secure its latest aid tranche from the IMF/European Union, also added to the euro’s woes.
Investors will also likely be unsettled by a weekend report from Der Speigel magazine that the German finance ministry was looking at scenarios that included Greece abandoning the euro.
Indeed, latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed speculators added to their bearish bets against the euro in the week to September 6.
“With $1.40 going last week, I think the euro could fall to $1.35 in the next few days,” said Michael Derks, chief strategist at FXPRO. “The dollar be will the currency that will gain from safe-haven inflows given the risk of intervention in the yen and the line in the sand that has been drawn on the Swiss franc by the Swiss National Bank.”
On the charts, near term support was seen at $1.3426, a low hit on February 14 and from where the euro started its move to a 17-month high at $1.4939 struck on May 4.
Reporting by Anirban Nag; Editing by Dan Lalor