FOREX-French election, Russia sanctions keep pressure on euro

By Joice Alves

LONDON, April 6 (Reuters)The euro steadied on Wednesday after falling to its lowest level in a month against a strengthening dollar as the prospect of new Western sanctions on Russia and the upcoming French presidential election added to pressure on the European currency.

The euro EUR=EBS had edged up 0.06% to $1.09130 versus the dollar by 1145 GMT, after briefly touching a nearly one-month low of $1.08735.

The United States and its allies prepared new sanctions on Moscow over civilian killings which President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described as “war crimes”, as heavy fighting and Russian airstrikes pounded the besieged port of Mariupol.

“A new round of sanctions against Russia are expected to be announced today by the US and the EU, with any implications for energy exports likely to keep the euro under pressure,” ING FX strategists Francesco Pesole and Chris Turner told clients.

French eurosceptic, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen closing in on President Macron in the polls ahead of this month’s presidential election adds another threat to the euro.

“The euro remains under significant pressure from a steep increase in US yields and anxiety ahead of Sunday’s first-round French presidential elections that may see it test 1.08,” said Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist at Scotiabank.

The US 2-year yield US2YT=RR was at its highest since January 2019, the 5-year yield US5YT=RR its highest since December 2018 and the benchmark 10-year yield US10YT=RR its highest since March 2019. US/

The dollar index =USDwhich measures the greenback against six major currencies, eased to 99.500 after touching its highest since May 2020 at 99.759.

The index gained 0.5% on Tuesday after Fed Governor Lael Brainard, typically seen as a more dovish policymaker, said she expected a combination of interest rate increases and a rapid balance sheet runoff to bring US monetary policy to a “more neutral position” later this year, with further tightening to follow as needed.

The Fed will release later in the day minutes of its March meeting that are expected to provide fresh details on its plans to reduce its bond holdings.

“What now matters is what the Fed does in May… and what signals it sends out regarding interest rates this year – several hikes of more than 25 basis points?” said Antje Praefcke, FX Analyst at Commerzbank.

She added that as markets have already priced in interest rate hikes, a confirmation of these expectations will likely have only a “marginally positive effect on the dollar”.

Sterling GBP=D3 was flat versus the dollar at $1.30770, after touching a three-week low against the greenback. GBP/

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP was 1.3% softer at $44,899.

World FX rates

(Reporting by Joice Alves; Editing by Kim Coghill, Kirsten Donovan)

((; Twitter @joiceal))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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