Euro, sterling plunge on soft business activity data, UK budget woes



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Euro hits fresh 20-year low vs dollar

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Sterling falls to new 37-year trough

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Dollar index is at 20-year high

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Dollar/yen higher on the day, but markets still cautious

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The euro and sterling plummeted to fresh 20-year and 37-year lows against a surging U.S. dollar on Friday after surveys showed the downturn in business activity across the euro zone and Britain accelerated this month and the economies were likely entering a recession.

Also weighing on sterling, Britain's new finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng announced tax cuts and household and corporate support measures and the UK debt office laid out plans for 72 billion pounds ($79.74 billion) of additional issuance for this financial year to fund the stimulus.

Sterling GBP=D3 posted its biggest weekly decline against the U.S. dollar in two years after it touched a fresh 37-year low of $1.0840. The pound was the day's biggest loser against the dollar, down 3.4% at $1.0874, and also had its largest daily percentage loss in two years.

British bond yields also surged on Wednesday as prices sank. Benchmark UK 10-year yields soared to 3.829%, a level not seen since April 2011.

"The market is giving very strong signals that it is no longer willing to fund the UK’s external deficit position at the current configuration of UK real yields and exchange rate," wrote George Saravelos, global head of FX research at Deutsche Bank in a research note.

"The policy response required to what is going on is clear: a large, inter-meeting rate hike from the Bank of England as soon as next week to regain credibility with the market. And, a strong signal that it is willing to do 'whatever it takes' to bring inflation down quickly and real yield into positive territory," he added.

Earlier in the session, UK PMI figures showed the downturn in Britain's economy worsened this month as companies battled soaring costs and faltering demand.

Moving in line with the pound, the euro EUR=EBS dropped 1.5% to $0.9689, after earlier hitting its lowest level since October 2002 of $0.9669.

The fall was triggered in part by data showing S&P Global's flash euro zone Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), seen as a good gauge of overall economic health, fell further in September.

The downturn in German business activity deepened, as higher energy costs hit Europe's largest economy and companies saw a drop in new business.

Europe's shared currency had its worst weekly performance since March 2020.

CENTRAL BANK POLICIES

The yen JPY=EBS was 0.6% lower at 143.30 per U.S. dollar, but had its first weekly gain of 0.3% in more than a month after Japanese authorities intervened in markets on Thursday to support the currency for the first time since 1998.

The yen rallied more than 1% on Thursday on news Japan had bought yen to defend the battered currency. Trading was thin on Friday with Japanese markets closed for a public holiday.

The dollar index =USD , which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of currency including euro, sterling and yen, surged to 113.23, its highest since May 2002 and topping two-decade highs hit earlier this week. It was last up 1.6% at 112.96, posting its best largest weekly percentage rise since March 2020.

"The buck is indeed a safe haven unlike any other time in recent decades because the war and its effects are not affecting the U.S. domestic goals," said Juan Perez, director of trading at Monex USA in Washington.

The Bank of England lifted interest rates by 50 basis points on Thursday in an attempt to tackle inflation but, like previous rate hikes in recent months, the move failed to support the pound as it was overshadowed by concerns about the economy.

The dollar received a boost this week from a very hawkish Federal Reserve policy announcement and rising Treasury yields. US10YT=RR

========================================================

Currency bid prices at 4:01PM (2001 GMT) Description

RIC

Last

U.S. Close Pct Change

YTD Pct

High Bid

Low Bid

Previous

Change

Session

Dollar index

=USD

112.9400

111.2200

+1.56%

18.060%

+113.2300 +111.0700 Euro/Dollar

EUR=EBS

$0.9695

$0.9834

-1.41%

-14.72%

+$0.9851

+$0.9669 Dollar/Yen

JPY=EBS

143.3100

142.4000

+0.65%

+24.50%

+143.4500 +141.7700 Euro/Yen

EURJPY=

138.93

140.00

-0.76%

+6.61%

+140.2500 +138.6800 Dollar/Swiss

CHF=EBS

0.9820

0.9769

+0.52%

+7.66%

+0.9839

+0.9757 Sterling/Dollar GBP=D3

$1.0869

$1.1259

-3.46%

-19.62%

+$1.1273

+$1.0840 Dollar/Canadian CAD=D3

1.3590

1.3488

+0.77%

+7.50%

+1.3612

+1.3470 Aussie/Dollar

AUD=D3

$0.6534

$0.6642

-1.63%

-10.12%

+$0.6656

+$0.6512 Euro/Swiss

EURCHF=

0.9520

0.9608

-0.92%

-8.19%

+0.9622

+0.9499 Euro/Sterling

EURGBP=

0.8916

0.8734

+2.08%

+6.14%

+0.8934

+0.8712 NZ

NZD=D3

$0.5751

$0.5846

-1.63%

-15.98%

+$0.5856

+$0.5732 Dollar/Dollar

Dollar/Norway

NOK=D3

10.5920

10.3915

+2.21%

+20.56%

+10.6520

+10.4155 Euro/Norway

EURNOK=

10.2669

10.2331

+0.33%

+2.59%

+10.3117

+10.2080 Dollar/Sweden

SEK=

11.2817

11.0650

+0.59%

+25.10%

+11.3275

+11.0552 Euro/Sweden

EURSEK=

10.9402

10.8763

+0.59%

+6.88%

+10.9598

+10.8896



World FX rates Link



Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Additional reporting by Joice Alves in London; Editing
by Susan Fenton and Jonathan Oatis

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