The Swiss franc fell against the euro and headed for its biggest three-day decline since the European currency’s 1999 debut on speculation Switzerland will take further action to counter recent gains.
The franc slid for a fourth day versus the dollar after the SonntagsZeitung newspaper said the Swiss government and the central bank are in “intense” talks over setting a target for their currency. The yen dropped the most in a week against the euro after Japan’s Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda indicated he’s ready to intervene in foreign-exchange markets again.
“The market is rightly nervous about what’s likely to come from the Swiss authorities as they have a track record of going down more unconventional policy steps,” said Lee Hardman, a currency strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in London. “If the steps will be enough to reverse the Swiss franc’s strengthening trend remains to be seen, but at these levels of overvaluation, which are very extreme, the risk-reward is more favorable in their way.”The franc tumbled 1.6 per cent to 1.12642 per euro at 7:12 am in New York, from 1.10857 on Aug.12, after rallying to a record 1.00749 on Aug.9. The Swiss currency has slid 8.7 per cent over the past three days, the most in 12 years. The franc declined 1.3 per cent to 78.81 centimes per dollar after advancing to a record 70.71 centimes on Aug.9.
The yen declined 0.4 per cent to 109.78 per euro and depreciated 0.1 per cent to 76.79 per dollar after climbing to 76.31 on Aug.1, approaching its post-World War II record of 76.25 set on March 17. The 17-nation euro increased 0.3 per cent to $1.4279.
The franc has soared 12 per cent in the past three months and the yen added 3.5 per cent, according to Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes. The currencies have gained as debt crises in Europe and the US boosted demand for safety.
The Swiss National Bank may set a target for the currency in “coming days,” SonntagsZeitung reported. Talks are focusing on the role of the government and an “appropriate plan” may be adopted Aug.17, the newspaper said.SNB policy makers, led by Philipp Hildebrand, have been seeking ways to stop the franc’s ascent to almost parity with the euro. While the central bank boosted liquidity in money markets and cut borrowing costs to zero, lawmakers have signaled their support for tougher measures to protect the economy.
“The market is paying much more respect towards the idea that there’s some sort of shock-and-awe tactic being put together in Switzerland,” said Robert Rennie, chief currency strategist in Sydney at Westpac Banking Corporation , Australia’s second-largest lender. “It’s this fear of the unknown that has sparked a significant move” in the franc.
Gains have left the franc 41 per cent too strong against the euro, according to an index developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris that uses relative costs of goods and services. It’s also the most overvalued currency against the dollar, at 49 per cent.
The yen has risen beyond the level that prompted Japan to sell the currency on Aug.4, its first intervention in foreign-exchange markets since March. A stronger yen reduces the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when converted into their home currency.
“An unstable situation is continuing,” Noda said yesterday during a television talk show on the public broadcaster NHK. “As foreign-exchange market matters are my prerogative, I will continue to closely watch the markets and take bold action if it becomes necessary.”
Japan’s economy shrank at a 1.3 per cent annual pace in the three months through June, the third quarter of contraction, government data showed today. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 2.5 per cent drop.The euro rose for a third day versus the dollar on speculation a meeting tomorrow between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris may result in action to contain the region’s debt crisis.The two leaders “will come out with something,” said Alex Sinton, senior dealer at ANZ National Bank Ltd. in Auckland. “It may even be long-term viable.
From / Gulf Today