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Euro hits 2-1/2-year high after Draghi refrains from talking down currency

[TOKYO] The euro extended its gains early on Monday and rose to a 2-1/2-year high against the US dollar after the European Central Bank president did not try to talk down currency the strong while markets assessed the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the US economy.

The euro was 0.3 per cent higher at US$1.1953 after rising to US$1.1966, its highest since Jan 2015.

The common currency had already surged about one per cent on Friday after ECB President Mario Draghi spoke at Jackson Hole on subjects such as global trade but did not touch upon the euro's recent strength.

The euro had already gained an earlier lift against the US dollar after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen made no reference to US monetary policy at Jackson Hole.

"I don't think expectations were that high in the market that Draghi would talk down the euro at Jackson Hole. Even if he had done so, the euro likely would have risen anyway," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities.

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"A strong euro cannot be a source of complaint for a region like the euro zone which is blessed with a large current account surplus, a steady economy and is not threatened by deflation. It was thus an opportunity for speculators to buy the euro without much concern."

With much of the immediate focus on the euro after Jackson Hole, the US dollar did not fare as badly against the Japanese yen.

The greenback was down 0.1 per cent at 109.285 yen after dipping to 109.110 on Friday. It remained clear of the four-month low of 108.605 touched on Aug 18.

The pound was 0.1 per cent higher at US$1.2903 after briefly touching a 13-day peak of US$1.2946.

The US dollar index against a basket of six major currencies added to Friday's losses to plumb 92.353, its lowest since early May 2016.

"Markets (were) disappointed on the Yellen speech and they sold the dollar and pushed bond yields down," said Imre Speizer, Westpac markets strategist.

He said Hurricane Harvey would likely further weigh on the US dollar since it's "a major negative weather event" and "obviously bad for the economy". The Australian dollar was up 0.15 per cent at US$0.7946 and the New Zealand dollar rose 0.2 per cent to US$0.7252.


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