NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro was little changed against the dollar on Friday after three straight days of losses, though concerns whether Spain will ask for a bailout and worries about Greece were expected to weigh on the currency.
A request by Spain, the euro zone’s fourth largest economy, for help would be considered a positive for the euro because it would allow the European Central Bank to start buying its bonds. That would lower borrowing costs of the highly indebted country.
Though the euro was down 0.7 percent on the week, it was still up 0.6 percent so far in October. In addition to Spain, investors remained uneasy about Greece’s ability to secure another loan from its creditors.
“People are bracing for the worst with continued weakness in the euro zone,” said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York. Without a bailout for Spain, the euro zone is in deep recession and won’t be rising out of it anytime soon.”
The euro hit a low of $1.2881, its lowest level since October 11. It last traded at $1.2933, flat on the day.
The euro dropped sharply against the safe-haven yen to last trade at 102.92 yen, down 0.9 percent on the day.
Stronger-than-expected growth in the United States helped to allay concerns about global growth.
The Commerce Department said U.S. GDP expanded at a 2.0 percent annual rate in the third quarter.
Favorable data tends to raise the appeal of riskier assets and the trend of firmer U.S. data hurting the greenback should continue for the time being, according to Vassili Serebriakov, currency strategist at Wells Fargo in New York.
“That said, the positive news on the U.S. economy has been offset by the ‘fiscal cliff’ concerns ahead of the U.S. Presidential elections as well as the lingering uncertainties surrounding Greece and Spain,” he said.
If Congress does not agree on a debt and deficit reduction deal by the end of the year it will automatically unleash massive tax increases and spending cuts next year, the so-called “fiscal cliff”.
“In this context, the scope for strong directional moves appears somewhat limited, and we see the range trading environment in the currency markets persisting over the near-term,” he said.
The European Central Bank and the European Commission said in a joint statement that Spain was on track to correct the problems in its financial sector, but needs more decisive action to deal with challenges facing some banks.
Additionally, the International Monetary Fund said important progress was being made in reforming Spain’s financial sector.
Expectations Spain will ask for a financial lifeline have helped bring its bond yields down. Some European officials believe Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy wants to delay asking for a bailout until after regional elections in November.
Concerns about Greece were at the forefront after the International Monetary Fund said Greek debt would be above the target agreed with international lenders. The Greek government said a deal on Athens’ latest austerity package was being held up by opposition from a coalition ally.
Finance ministers of the 17-member euro zone, called the Eurogroup, will hold a conference call next Wednesday to discuss Greece, the spokesman for the Eurogroup president said on Friday.
Looking ahead, U.S. nonfarm payrolls data next Friday and elections on November 6 have the potential to sway currency market sentiment.
“Next week will be interesting with October U.S. non-farm payrolls data to shed further light on the U.S. recovery,” said David Rodriguez, Quantitative Strategist at DailyFX in New York. “In the meantime, however, we think the Euro trend is up until it isn’t.”
The dollar fell against the yen after touching a four-month high on expectations of policy easing by the Bank of Japan when it meets on Tuesday.
The BOJ is expected to ease monetary policy at its meeting on Tuesday by expanding asset purchases, and it could make a stronger commitment to keep pumping cash until its 1 percent inflation target is attained.
The greenback, at current prices, was on pace to end the week 0.3 percent higher against the yen, adding to last week’s rise of 1.1 percent and helped by widening spreads between two-year U.S. Treasuries and Japanese government bond yields, with which the dollar/yen has a strong correlation.
Some strategists said a weekly close above 80 yen would be a strong bullish signal that may prompt further dollar demand. The dollar was last down 0.9 percent at 79.56 yen, according to Reuters data.
Reporting By Nick Olivari and Julie Haviv; Editing by Diane Craft