By Alun John
HONG KONG (Reuters) – The euro climbed past parity against a softening dollar on Tuesday, thanks to lower energy prices and the possibility of a super-sized European Central Bank rate hike.
The European common currency was 0.41% higher at $1.00390, extending the previous day’s rally, albeit from near 20-year lows.
“It’s about the ECB being priced far more aggressively over the past few sessions, as well as a little bit of pressure coming off the natural gas prices,” said John Hardy head of FX strategy at Saxo Bank.
“It’s also noticeable we’ve seen a bit of magnetism around this parity level for euro/dollar, so many times these big round levels can become major sticking points.”
British and Dutch wholesale gas prices eased on Tuesday as Europe almost reached its target of gas inventories being 80% full. [NG/EU]
Market pricing also indicates roughly a 50% chance of a massive 75 basis point interest rate increase at the ECB’s next meeting after a parade of ECB speakers at the Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole backed the case for a big hike, though this pricing came down a little on Tuesday.
German CPI data due later in the day will help provide an indication of how aggressively the ECB will need to move to curtail inflation.
Preliminary Spanish data released earlier showed national consumer prices rose 10.4% in August from a year earlier, down from 10.8% the previous month.
Also on traders’ radars are several ECB speakers due to make public remarks later on Tuesday, which could guide markets towards or away from such a large rate increase.
The dollar was also down against other majors, losing 0.46% against the Japanese yen, as the rate sensitive currency benefited from lower U.S. benchmark Treasury yields. Sterling gained 0.12% to $1.172.
The Australian dollar, often seen as a proxy for risk sentiment, rallied 0.5%, alongside gains in shares. [MKTS-GLOB]
The dollar index – which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, with the euro the most heavily weighted – stood at 108.5, after dropping back from 109.48 overnight, a high not seen since September 2002.
An aggressive programme of rate hikes from the Federal Reserve has been supporting the dollar, and U.S. jobs figures due on Friday will be closely watched for further clues to the interest rate outlook.
Bitcoin was also on the front foot in line with markets’ positive attitude to riskier assets, trading at $20,400 up from a six-week low of $19,526 hit over the weekend.
(Reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong; additional reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Bradley Perrett and Chizu Nomiyama)