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There's one question European Central Bank President Mario Draghi won't be able to ignore at his first policy meeting of the year: whether the euro is too strong for the currency bloc's health.

Basically, the market is now creating pressure to bring the US trade deficit down (which, by implication, means the rise in the USA fiscal deficit would need to be funded domestically).

The euro jumped to an intraday high of $1.2537 from $1.2410 late Wednesday in NY, marking the first time the shared currency has traded above $1.25 since late 2014.

2459, etching out its highest level since mid-December 2014.

It also said it stood ready to expand or lengthen its asset-purchase programme if the inflation outlook worsens.

"We continue to see these positive steps in the right direction and definitely earnings are clearly justifying a lot of the recent move that we've had", said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"I think there are very few chances that interest rates would be raised this year", Draghi told reporters. "His comments definitely pushed the dollar down, and it is all about sentiment". - Upwards trajectory - The euro meanwhile remains on an upwards trajectory on the back of brightening optimism over the eurozone economy.


Quoting from an International Monetary Fund statement in October, Draghi said nations had agreed they will "refrain from competitive devaluations, and will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes". Still, Draghi said that several European Central Bank members are concerned beyond simple exchange rates - they are concerned about the overall status of worldwide relations.

The rand was slightly weaker on Thursday afternoon, while trading in tight ranges ahead of the European Central Bank (ECB) decision on interest rates.

"There is reason to believe that Draghi will choose to find a more dovish tone once more in an attempt to alleviate the pressure caused by a rising euro". Investors are anxious that a stronger euro could hurt exports and company earnings. The German 10-year bond yield was down 1.6 basis points to 0.512%, while the French 10-year bond yield fell 2.1 basis points to 0.847%, according to Tradeweb. This suggests anyone who is looking to sell Euros might not see the rates drop back to the levels in the last 6 months.

Some market participants are also concerned that Trump may encourage more protectionist policies at a speech in Davos around 1300 GMT and at his State of the Union speech next week, policies that may ultimately end up pushing the dollar lower.

In commodities, oil prices vaulted to new three-year peaks on Thursday, one day after news of a tenth weekly decline in USA crude inventories.

The UK's FTSE-100 lost 0.36pc.

The dollar index.DXY, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was down 0.33 percent at 89.1 and on track for a weekly fall of 1.6 percent.


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