Ratings Concerns Hit Euro

Post payrolls euphoria has faded quickly this week. Fed Chairman Bernanke’s cautious comments about growth had weighed on US markets earlier but it is now eurozone concerns that have come to the forefront. Markets were faced with a further reality check following a sharp drop in German industrial production and news that S&P put Greece on watch for a downgrade, with Fitch going a step further and downgrading Greece’s ratings to BBB+ with a negative outlook.

Greece with a budget deficit of 12.7% of GDP was picked on by the ratings agencies but sovereign debt / fiscal concerns apply to several countries across the eurozone. Indeed, since the recent Dubai shock, which continues to weigh on markets following a report today about an accelerated payment clause on $2 billion debt issued by the Emirates utilities provider, concerns have moved quickly to the health of government balance sheets. The potential for more European ratings cuts will keep sentiment towards eurozone markets cautious.

The UK should not be ignored in this respect and attention will turn to the UK pre-budget report though it’s difficult to see what Chancellor Darling can say that will help GBP. Other economic news has been disappointing with Australia registering a bigger than expected trade deficit in October and Japan recording a sharp downward revision to Q3 GDP, all of which will act to contribute to the “risk off” tone to markets today.

Although the direct brunt of the ratings downgrade was felt on Greek bonds the EUR has come under strong selling pressure registering a further sharp move lower from the 1.5141 high printed last week. Capitulation at the failure to break above recent highs led to some selling and this was exacerbated by the negative data and ratings news. EUR/USD is likely to have further to go on the downside but sovereign interest and bargain hunting will likely prevent a more severe decline. EUR/USD technical support is seen around 1.4623.

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