Euro falls broadly, market braces for more losses

By Wanfeng Zhou and Steven C. Johnson

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – The euro fell (Read more about the trembling euro. ) against the dollar and hit a record low against the Swiss franc on Monday and traders said fear of more ratings downgrades for indebted euro zone countries and banks signaled more losses to come.

Moody’s Investors Service said Monday it may cut the ratings on Spanish banks following its multi-notch downgrade of Ireland’s credit rating last week. Speculation has risen that France and Belgium may also face cuts.

The news drove the euro below its 200-day moving average around $1.3102, usually a bearish signal. The next downside target is $1.30, followed by the December low of $1.2970, traders said.

“Credit ratings are eroding across much of the common currency zone as debt continues to increase and economic growth remains anemic,” said Karl Schamotta, senior market strategist at Western Union Business Solutions, in Victoria, British Columbia.

“As ratings decline,” he added, “countries have greater difficulty borrowing on international markets and interest rates are consequently forced upward.”

The euro slipped 0.5 percent to $1.3119, having dropped as low as $1.3096, according to Reuters data, its lowest since December 2.

The euro also fell below its 200-day moving average against the dollar in late November, but climbed back above it shortly thereafter. But analysts said it may struggle to remain there in thin pre-holiday trade.

The dollar also slipped 0.2 percent to 83.76 yen, hurt by Japanese corporate selling and lower U.S. bond yields.

“SERIOUS CONCERNS”

The euro fell (Read more about the trembling euro. ) to 1.2636 Swiss francs on trading platform EBS, its weakest since the euro’s launch in 1999. The euro also hit a record low against the Australian dollar.

The euro could fall to 1.20 Swiss francs in 2011, Morgan Stanley said, noting that “Switzerland contrasts sharply with the euro zone and remains perfectly poised to benefit from any increased sovereign stress concerns in the euro zone.”

It also looks good compared with other major economies, said RBC Capital Markets strategist David Watt, noting the franc has soared against the pound and was near an all-time high against the dollar.

The moves, he wrote in a note to clients, stem from investor unease about “structurally impaired” economies, which include Britain and the United States.

But for now, the euro’s zone woes will remain front and center, analysts said, at least until officials clarify how they will address liquidity problems in troubled economies.

The European Central Bank expressed “serious concerns” that Ireland’s bailout package could affect the institution’s liquidity operations in the euro zone.

European Union leaders agreed last week to set up a permanent crisis management mechanism from mid-2013, disappointing investors who had hoped for more active measures such as expanding the European Financial Stability Facility or issuing joint European sovereign bonds, so-called E-bonds.

“Officials’ inability to get ahead of the curve in dealing with the continent’s debt crisis …. will keep (the euro) vulnerable well into 2011,” said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.

UBS data showed real money accounts led euro selling last week, followed by leveraged names and corporates.

“The cumulative effect of these sustained outflows has been to send euro positioning deep into net short territory. Euro shorts are now more extensive than for any other G10 currency we monitor,” the firm said in a note.

Recent data showed speculators continued to hold a net short position in the euro last week.

(Editing by Dan Grebler)

Euro falls broadly, market braces for more losses