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Euro rises on bets the economy may have turned a corner

London

THE euro jumped to a three-week high on Thursday as growing expectations that the European economy may have turned a corner encouraged investors to buy the single currency while the Swedish kronor jumped after a strong growth reading.

Core European bond yields hit a three-week high on Wednesday while a broad indicator of European economic data ticked higher, rising from an eight-month low hit last month, suggesting the near-term economic outlook may be improving.

"European data seems to have bottomed out and the impact of the prolonged US shutdown is starting to show up in the data and euro/dollar may be pressured higher," said fund manager Constantin Bolz of wealth manager Portfolio Concepts.

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The single currency rallied 0.4 per cent to US$1.1412, its highest level in three weeks and threatened to break out of a range it has been trapped in for more than three months.

Germany's 10-year bond yield was down 1.5 basis points at 0.14 per cent on Thursday, below three-week highs hit on Thursday near 0.17 per cent.

Latest positioning data showed speculators have been ramping up their negative bets on the euro since December to a near two-year high on concerns that European policymakers won't raise interest rates this year. Market analysts say strong data may force them to unwind their bets.

Elsewhere, the Swedish kronor jumped nearly a per cent against the dollar to 9.18 kronor and was set for its biggest daily jump in two months after fourth quarter growth data beat forecasts.

Sweden's gross domestic product grew 2.4 per cent from a year earlier, the statistics office said on Thursday, comfortably beating forecasts of a 1.5 per cent expansion according to estimates.

Commerzbank strategists believe the strong data puts the central bank firmly on track to raise interest rates in the second half of the year.

Sentiment against the dollar was broadly uniform with the Swiss franc rallying half a per cent as weak Chinese factory data and lack of progress at US-China trade talks encouraged traders to sell the greenback.

Factory activity in China reached a three-year low in February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis, more evidence of an economy facing weak demand at home and abroad.

The Swiss franc rallied 0.74 per cent against the dollar to 0.9940 and the Japanese yen gained a quarter of a per cent to 110.75 yen.

Against a basket of its rivals, the dollar slipped 0.3 per cent to 95.84. Traders said some of its weakness was caused by month-end selling after a strong month for risky assets.

Sterling edged lower after reaching a seven-month high on Wednesday as traders bet Britain's departure from the European Union would be delayed. REUTERS