European Currencies Crushed as Faltering Growth Quashes Optimism

(Bloomberg) -- European currencies are facing an inflection point as investors call into question the region’s rosy growth outlook.

A cocktail of disappointing economic data and dovish central banks sent the euro to its weakest level since January, left the Swedish krona at a nine-year low and inflicted the worst one-day blow on trade-weighted sterling since November. The pain didn’t stop there as Eastern European currencies joined the selloff, leaving the Turkish lira as the only gainer versus the dollar this week in the region.

The flip side is the strongest dollar in three months as traders factor in the spread between 10-year U.S. Treasuries and bunds, now at its widest in almost three decades. With economic growth slowing in France and stagnating in Spain in the first quarter, investors are concerned that policy makers in Europe will delay their exit from extraordinary stimulus. The script is similar in the U.K., where investors slashed their expectations for an imminent tightening to less than 20 percent from almost 50 percent at the end of last week.

‘‘That’s one thing the data has done, it really has chased away the overly hawkish nature of commentary that was out there,” said Jane Foley, head of currency strategy at Rabobank in London. “Consistent with that, the outlook for euro is a little more deflated given that the market is already very long.”

The euro slipped 0.2 percent to $1.2079 as of 12:41 p.m. in London, headed for a loss of 1.7 percent this week, the biggest since the five days ended Nov. 18. The Bloomberg British Pound Index sank 1 percent Friday, the sharpest drop since Nov. 2. Sweden’s krona was the worst-performing major currency this week after the central bank delayed plans to raise interest rates.

“We would need a recovery in 2019 euro-area growth expectations to revive the EUR/USD uptrend,” said Kit Juckes, a strategist at Societe Generale SA. “Domestic factors will also drive other currency pairs, hurting some politically sensitive currencies and helping oil-sensitive ones.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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