FOREX-Euro tumbles vs major currencies, dollar jumps; Ukraine conflict intensifies

 (Updates with midday U.S. trading, adds NEW YORK dateline, byline)
    By Caroline Valetkevitch and Joice Alves
    NEW YORK/LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) - The euro fell against major currencies and the U.S. dollar rallied
on Friday as worries increased over the impact of the escalating Ukraine-Russia conflict, especially on
Europe's growth outlook.
    The euro fell below $1.10 against the dollar for the first time in almost two years, and was last down
1.4% at $1.0916 and on track for its biggest daily percentage decline since March 2020. The
European single currency also hit a fresh seven-year low versus the safe-haven Swiss franc.  
    Russian invasion forces seized Europe's biggest nuclear power plant on Friday. A blaze in a training
building was extinguished and officials said the facility was now safe, while combat raged elsewhere in
Ukraine in the second week of the assault launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    Against the Swiss franc, the euro was last down 1.3% at 1.0020. The euro also sank against
sterling, hitting its lowest level since June 2016. Strategists worry that surging energy and gas
prices will hit Europe's economic growth prospects.
    Investors flocked to the U.S. dollar and other safe-haven currencies. The U.S. dollar index
initially pared gains but then rallied further following data Friday that showed U.S. job growth surged in
February. The report raised optimism that the economy could withstand tighter monetary policy.
    The index was last up 1%, trading around its highest since May 2020, while the dollar was down 0.6%
against the Japanese yen
    "The most compelling story here is the flight to safety, which we've seen coming in ebbs and flows. It
picked up overnight with the fire" in Ukraine, said Amo Sahota, director at Klarity FX in San Francisco.
"That created a pop up in U.S. dollar across the board. 
   "The big losses have really been focused on European currencies in particular. Euro/dollar is going to be
the big headline grabber," he said. "Economists in general are going to be revising down a lot of their
forecasts."
    Also supporting the dollar, investors expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at its
March 15-16 meeting for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic. 
    In addition, the Czech National Bank said on Friday it was intervening in the market to stem the
depreciation of the crown. Poland's central bank intervened this week, but the zloty still
hit a 13-year low against the euro, while Hungary delivered its most aggressive rate hike since 2008 as the
forint also tumbled to record lows.
   The rouble traded near record lows against the dollar and euro in volatile Moscow trade
, after Russia's credit rating was cut deeper into junk by S&P.
    ========================================================
    Currency bid prices at 11:46AM (1646 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct       High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                   
                                              Session                                             
 Dollar index                 98.6330        97.7200     +0.95%         3.105%        +98.9250    +97.7200
 Euro/Dollar                  $1.0916        $1.1066     -1.36%         -3.98%        +$1.1068    +$1.0886
 Dollar/Yen                   114.7250       115.4400    -0.61%         -0.33%        +115.5500   +114.6800
 Euro/Yen                     125.22         127.76      -1.99%         -3.91%        +127.8100   +125.1500
 Dollar/Swiss                 0.9180         0.9171      +0.12%         +0.66%        +0.9210     +0.9166
 Sterling/Dollar              $1.3211        $1.3345     -1.00%         -2.31%        +$1.3355    +$1.3202
 Dollar/Canadian              1.2764         1.2683      +0.64%         +0.95%        +1.2792     +1.2670
 Aussie/Dollar                $0.7355        $0.7329     +0.40%         +1.22%        +$0.7375    +$0.7301
 Euro/Swiss                   1.0020         1.0151      -1.29%         -3.37%        +1.0157     +1.0020
 Euro/Sterling                0.8260         0.8284      -0.29%         -1.67%        +0.8295     +0.8232
 NZ                           $0.6841        $0.6800     +0.59%         -0.07%        +$0.6843    +$0.6768
 Dollar/Dollar                                                                                    
 Dollar/Norway                8.9790         8.9215      +0.77%         +2.05%        +9.0505     +8.9040
 Euro/Norway                  9.8067         9.8583      -0.52%         -2.06%        +9.8838     +9.7968
 Dollar/Sweden                9.8756         9.7338      +0.02%         +9.51%        +9.9621     +9.7368
 Euro/Sweden                  10.7873        10.7849     +0.02%         +5.41%        +10.8519    +10.7627
 


    
 (Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York and Joice Alves in London, additional reporting by Alun
John; Editing by Robert Birsel, Raissa Kasolowsky, Louise Heavens and Jonathan Oatis)
  

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