World Economy

Euro at 9-Year Low

Euro at 9-Year LowEuro at 9-Year Low

The euro hit a nine-year trough on Wednesday as collapsing oil prices and worries about the world economy drove skittish investors into the arms of safe-haven sovereign debt.

From Japan to Germany to Australia, government borrowing costs fell to all-time lows as oil fell 10 percent in just two days – Brent crude broke below the psychological $50 barrier – as investors wrestled with the risk of global deflation, Reuters reported.

European stocks opened higher, after Asia just about managed to hold up in positive territory, but nervousness ran deep through all financial markets ahead of euro zone inflation data due later Wednesday.

The figures are expected to show the first annual fall in consumer prices since 2009, piling pressure on the European Central Bank to launch all-out quantitative easing at its next policy meeting on Jan. 22.

But despite the growing threat of deflation, the ECB may be reluctant to act before Greece’s general election on Jan. 25, a vote which some observers say could hasten the country’s exit from the eurozone if the left-wing Syriza party wins.

“Given the fact that Greece will not have an official government in place at that time, the ECB may have to wait,” said Marshall Gittler, head of global FX strategy at IronFX.

“The euro has not been able to sustain any rallies this year and so looks chronically weak,” he said.

The euro fell as low as $1.1842 in anticipation of more money-printing by the ECB. In early European trading, it was down slightly from the previous day around $1.1870.

  Yields Going

The breakneck decline in oil showed no sign of letting up. Brent fell more than 2 percent to dip below $50 a barrel for the first time since early 2009. It has shed more than 11 percent so far this week. US crude fell to $47.02.

With fears of deflation rampant, yields on longer-dated Japanese, German, French, Dutch, Austrian, Belgian, Finnish, Canadian and Australian bonds all touched record lows.

Eurozone inflation expectations, measured by the ECB’s preferred gauge of so-called 5-year forwards, fell to a fresh low of 1.58 percent. That’s well below the central bank’s target of just under 2 percent.

All yields on German bonds out to 5 year maturities were negative on Wednesday and the 10-year yield was 0.45 percent. The benchmark US 10-year yield was steady at 1.959 percent.

Yields on US 30-year paper fell to 2.51 percent, above the all-time trough of 2.443 percent hit on Tuesday.