Euro weakens to six-week low as Italian concerns weigh

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro fell to a six-week low on Tuesday after a senior lawmaker in one of Italy’s ruling parties said most of the country’s problems would be resolved if it readopted a national currency.

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Italy’s coalition proposed a budget with a higher-than-expected deficit target, exacerbating tensions with other euro zone leaders and worrying investors who want Rome to bring its debt under control.

The lawmaker, Claudio Borghi, later rowed back on the comments, while Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the euro was “unrenounceable.”

The single currency EUR= dropped as low as $1.1505, its weakest level since Aug. 21, before retracing to $1.1541, down 0.30 percent on the day.

“We are dealing with a war of words, with the euro on one side and Italy on the other. ... There’s a lot of headline risk about,” Valentin Marinov, head of G10 FX strategy at Credit Agricole, said.

Most of the common currency’s losses came after Borghi, the economic head of the right-wing League party, said Italy would enjoy more favorable economic conditions outside the euro zone.

The euro has strong technical support at the $1.15 area, which is the 50 percent retracement level of its rally from August to September, said Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York. A break below this level could mean further euro weakness to the $1.13 area, Thin said.

The Australian dollar AUD=, often viewed as a barometer of risk appetite, fell 0.51 percent to $0.7186 as markets were spooked by the euro zone concerns.

The U.S. dollar has strengthened against the euro since Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates as expected and said it foresees another rate hike in December, three more next year and one in 2020.

“The main driver is the U.S. Fed, they signaled they are comfortable with the U.S. economy to continue hiking rates,” said Thin.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday hailed a “remarkably positive outlook” for the U.S. economy, which he feels is on the verge of a “historically rare” era of ultra-low unemployment and tame prices.

The dollar index .DXY rose 0.25 percent to 95.531, after rising to 95.744, the highest level since Aug. 21.

Sterling slid to a three-week low as a conflict over UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan escalated, with deep divisions on show at the ruling Conservative Party’s conference.

Reporting by Karen Brettell; Additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes in London; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler