Euro falls broadly as Greek debt worries mount

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – The euro weakened broadly, falling for a fifth straight session against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, as investors fretted about delays in putting together a financial aid package for debt-stricken Greece.

The country started talks with European Union and International Monetary Fund officials on Wednesday on a potential aid deal that could offer Greece 40 billion to 45 billion euros in loans, but it would take several weeks before any plan could be finalized.

Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said a joint text will be agreed by May 15.

“This seems to leave the markets in a state of balance between fear and optimism without a strong position on either side,” said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago. “Sometimes the initial statements leaked (from these meetings) … are unconfirmed or denied and market volatility may pick up.”

The short-term downtrend that has been in place since April 14 is still intact, Cook noted, but it may be limited on the downside by the longer-term range.

In late afternoon New York trading, the euro dropped 0.3 percent to $1.3393, after having fallen as low as $1.3359, according to Reuters data, its lowest since April 9.

The euro’s slide came as the premium investors demand to buy Greek government bonds rather than benchmark German Bunds widened beyond 500 basis points, the highest in 12 years, while the cost of insuring against a Greek default climbed to a record high.

Against the yen, the euro fell (Read more about the trembling euro. ) 0.4 percent to 124.81, but traded off three-week lows touched earlier in the week.

Worries about Greece boosted the safe-haven appeal of the dollar. The ICE Futures’ U.S. dollar index (Read more about the global trade. ), which tracks the value of the greenback against a basket of six currencies (.DXY: ), recovered from the day’s low to trade 0.2 percent higher at 81.200.

Greece is racing to raise 10 billion euros next month, with markets focusing on an 8.5 billion euro bond that falls due on May 19. Investors are increasingly convinced Greece will have to tap the euro zone and IMF package.

“The situation is not getting any better and if anything, it seems that EU nations are rushing in order to head off a potential calamity on (May) 19th,” said David Watt, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

News that the International Monetary Fund raised its 2010 global GDP forecast to 4.2 percent from January’s 3.9 percent while leaving 2011’s growth estimate at 4.3 percent had little market impact, but underpinned the market’s overall risk-seeking stance.

Among other currencies, the Canadian dollar rallied across the board, pushing the U.S. dollar as low as C$0.9931, its weakest since early June 2008. The greenback, however, last changed hands at C$0.9992, up only slightly on the day.

The Canadian currency extended its rally from Tuesday after the Bank of Canada signaled an interest rate rise may come as early as June. Rising commodity prices also provided a boost.

Against the yen, the dollar was flat at 93.18. The low-yielding Japanese currency recovered from broad losses as the Greek debt crisis took center stage. It earlier came under pressure as strong U.S. earnings lifted risk appetite.

Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: ) posted first quarter earnings on Tuesday that far exceeded expectations, while Goldman Sachs (GS.N: ) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N: ) (Read more about the money market today. ) also announced strong results.

The Swedish crown hit a 19-month high at 9.5850 per euro, extending its rally after Sweden’s central bank on Tuesday cemented market expectations for a rise in interest rates in July or September.

Stock Market Report

Euro falls broadly as Greek debt worries mount