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Bullish central bank news lifts euro, Canadian dollar

[NEW YORK] The euro rose to a daily high on Wednesday after a report that European Central Bank policymakers were split over when the central bank would raise rates next year.

Sources told Reuters that some policymakers said an increase was possible as early as July 2019, while others ruled out a move until autumn next year.

"(The ECB) is really talking about whether they raise rates in July or at some point in the months after that," said Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

The single currency rose 0.6 per cent against the US dollar to a top of US$1.176 after having fallen earlier in the day. The euro's move drove the US dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of six rivals, down 0.4 per cent to a daily trough of 94.091. The euro also strengthened against the pound, rising to a day's high of 88.60 pence.

The ECB said last month it expected to keep rates at its current, record-low levels "through the summer" of 2019, wording vague enough to leave the exact meaning open to debate.

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Against the US dollar, the euro had fallen in early trade after Washington threatened 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports in an escalating trade conflict that has heightened worries that the euro zone economy could be hurt.

The biggest losers were the Chinese yuan, which skidded toward an 11-month low, and the Australian dollar, which fell as much as 1.1 per cent. An increase of Sino-US trade tensions would have the biggest impact in China and in Asia, where countries, including Australia, depend on Chinese demand for their exports.

The news of more possible tariffs comes days after Washington imposed 25 per cent tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese imports, and Beijing responded immediately with matching tariffs on the same amount of US exports to China.

The Canadian dollar strengthened 0.8 percent to C$1.306 after the Bank of Canada increased interest rates as expected. It said further gradual rate hikes would be warranted, but warned about the economic effects of mounting trade tensions.

"The rate hike was not at all surprising. The markets were, however, expecting a dovish hike and we haven't got that... That accounts for the rally we've seen in the Canadian dollar," said Mr Osborne.

"The initial headlines from the bank are... downplaying some of the big concerns they've had with regard to the domestic economy, trade and housing," he said.


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