Euro strengthens on data from US and Germany

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The Independent Online

The Euro reversed Wednesday's dip against the dollar on Thursday, when new figures showed both a sharp rise in business optimism in Germany and a new record US trade deficit. The currency climbed to $1.019, the highest for a week, before retreating slightly later in the day.

The Euro reversed Wednesday's dip against the dollar on Thursday, when new figures showed both a sharp rise in business optimism in Germany and a new record US trade deficit. The currency climbed to $1.019, the highest for a week, before retreating slightly later in the day.

Ministers and central bankers from the G20, the biggest industrial and developing countries, who are meeting in Berlin, welcomed signs of an upturn in world growth. "Ministers and governors welcomed the improvement in global economic conditions." their statement said.

The monthly Ifo survey of German industry showed a sharp bounce in the "business climate" index last month, after a weak October.

The increase was far beyond what analysts had expected, and revived some predictions that the European Central Bank will raise interest rates early next year.

The ECB left interest rates unchanged at its council meeting on Wednesday, which had helped take the euro back in the direction of parity with the dollar, at least for a day.

Businesses in both eastern and western Germany have become more upbeat, according to the survey. Gerd Hassel, an economist at Bhf Bank in Frankfurt, said: "It is a very positive signal. The rises in manufacturing orders that took place over the past fewmonths are now coming through to business confidence."

Separately, figures showed that the shortfall between US exports and imports reached a new monthly record of $25.94bn in October, as the trade deficits with Japan and China reached new all-time highs and the oil import bill surged due to the higher oil price.

The value of imports soared to a record $107.86bn, while exports slipped, for the second month running, to $81.92bn. The trade gap was worse than the financial markets had been expecting.

Nick Stamenkovic, an analyst at IDEAglobal.com, said: "These figures just highlight the buoyancy of the US economy. The Fed will have to pull the trigger early, and the question is whether rates will have to go up by a quarter point or a half."

Bond markets reacted badly to the surprise news from both sides of the Atlantic.

The benchmark 30-year US Treasury bond fell by a third of a point, taking its yield three basis points higher to 6.35 per cent. European bond prices also declined.

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