U.S. Markets

Euro surges as ECB's Draghi does not mention currency strength

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro soared to its highest level in more than two years against the dollar on Friday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi did not express concern about a strong euro zone currency, as some analysts had expected.

An illustration picture shows Euro coins, photographed in Warngau April 3, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Some analysts had suggested that Draghi could use the Jackson Hole, Wyoming central bankers’ conference to talk the euro down. When he did not do so, traders took that as a green light to buy euros.

The dollar index dropped to a more than one-year low following Draghi’s speech and after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen made no reference to U.S. monetary policy in her speech.

Europe’s single currency has climbed 13 percent so far this year against the dollar, as it benefited from political dysfunction in Washington and the Federal Reserve’s gradual monetary tightening pace. A strong euro is a headwind for the export-driven euro zone economy.

Instead of the surging euro, Draghi, in his speech at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming central banker’s conference, instead focused on other aspects such as a solid global recovery.

“Primarily the dynamic that traders are betting on now is that the European Central Bank is not concerned about the euro’s strength despite the impact that the euro is having on core inflation and growth metrics throughout the euro area,” said Karl Schamotta, director of global market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.

He added that traders had expected Draghi to jawbone the currency downward, following up particularly on the minutes of the last meeting, “in which it was very clear that the governing council had become increasingly concerned about the euro’s strength.”

The euro hit a high of $1.1940 EUR=, its strongest level since January 2015. It was last at $1.1929, up 1 percent on the day, its best daily percentage gain in two months.

Against the yen JPY=, the dollar fell 0.2 percent to 109.31, while the dollar index slid to 92.542 .DXY, down 0.8 percent.

“At this point, there isn’t too much for Yellen to add,” said currency strategist Sireen Harajli of Mizuho Corporate Bank in New York.

“The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) has been very clear in terms of communicating their intention to continue tightening policy very gradually, and I don’t think they see anything to change that view.”

Instead, Yellen focused on U.S. regulations, saying those put in place after the 2007-2009 crisis had strengthened the financial system without impeding economic growth, and any future changes should remain modest.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; additional reporting by Sam Forgione and Dion Rabouin; editing by Diane Craft