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Forex - Euro Hits 4-Month High; EU Leaders Set to Discuss Recovery Fund

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The euro has been in demand in early European trade Wednesday, hitting a four-month high after Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard hinted at a need for an even easier monetary policy in the U.S.

The dollar also suffered more broadly from a rise in risk appetite after positive test data for one of the lead candidates for a Covid-19 vaccine late, published late on Tuesday.

At 2:55 AM ET (0655 GMT), EUR/USD gained 0.1% to 1.1408, after reaching its highest level since March 10 at $1.1423 earlier in the session. EUR/GBP dropped 0.2% to 0.9060, with sterling helped by stronger than expected inflation figures in June, but the euro had posted a two-week high of 0.9112 late Tuesday.

Additionally, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was down 0.1% at 96.093, GBP/USD gained 0.4% to 1.2595 and USD/JPY was flat at 107.23. 

The single currency has benefited of late--it’s up 1.3% against the dollar over the last month--from the perception that the region has handled the Covid-19 crisis better than most.

"Germany, France and Italy have all taken severe lockdown steps and as a result the coronavirus now appears to be under control. The economy could be gradually recovering," said Bart Wakabayashi, Tokyo Branch manager of State Street (NYSE:STT) Bank and Trust, to Reuters.

The economic picture still is grim, however. Only last week, the European Commission downgraded its outlook for the EU economy, saying it would now contract by 8.3% in 2020. However, recent confidence data have tended upward, with Tuesday’s German ZEW survey pointing to continued optimism over the next six months.

Looking ahead, “the forthcoming ECB meeting should not change much, with the discussion/progress on an EU Recovery Fund being a more important short-term driver for the EUR/USD,” said analysts at ING, in a research note.

There still remain doubts about whether the EU leaders will reach agreement on a 750-billion-euro pandemic recovery fund at this week's summit, amid resistance from more frugal member states.

That said, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who now holds the presidency of the EU Council, was in no doubt of the need of the fund and the importance of its size.

"Because the task is enormous, the answer must also be huge," she said Monday, after hosting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for talks.

"It must be particularly powerful in order to signal clearly that Europe wants to hold together in this difficult time. There is a political dimension to it".

Any potential progress on the recovery fund at the EU summit “should translate into support for EUR/USD for the remainder of the week, with the ECB meeting playing second fiddle,” ING added.

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