Euro nears 21-month low after dovish ECB and ahead of U.S. jobs data

© Reuters. Illustration photo of U.S. Dollar and Euro notes

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – The euro struggled near a 21-month low against the dollar on Friday, hurt by a series of dovish signals from the European Central Bank, with the currency market bracing for further volatility ahead of U.S. jobs data later in the day.

The single currency stood little changed at $1.1197 having tumbled 1 percent on Thursday to touch $1.1176, its lowest since June 2017. It has declined 1.5 percent so far this week.

The euro took a big hit on Thursday after the ECB pushed back the timing of its first post-crisis interest rate hike to 2020, cut its economic forecasts and launched a new round of cheap bank loans.

The February U.S. jobs report to be released as 1330 GMT could stack more pressure on the floundering euro.

Economists polled by Reuters expect to see 180,000 jobs added in the United States last month, after two months of staggering growth. The U.S. economy added 304,000 jobs in January and 222,000 in December.

“Whether the dollar can remain on an uptrend in the long-term is debatable, but for now a strong U.S. jobs report would provide further boost for the currency,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

That in turn would weigh on the euro, caught in a downward spiral after the ECB meeting and also shackled with Brexit woes, Ishikawa said.

The against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 97.622. The index soared 0.75 percent on Thursday to brush a near three-month peak of 97.71 and was headed for a weekly gain of 1.2 percent.

The greenback was effectively flat at 111.63 yen after dipping 0.15 percent against its Japanese peer overnight amid risk aversion in broader markets. Global equities were lower after the ECB stoked economic growth concerns.

The yen, a perceived safe haven, attracts demand in times of political tensions and market turmoil.

The Australian dollar trod water at $0.7015, having declined 0.9 percent this week and hitting a two-month trough of $0.7005 after data showed the economy grew at its slowest pace in two years last quarter.

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