By James Ramage
The euro rose slightly against the British pound and the yen Thursday after investors shrugged off euro-zone numbers for growth and inflation that came in near economists' already low estimates.
The common currency ticked up 0.1% versus the yen to Y137 in late afternoon trade. The euro strengthened 0.1% against the pound to GBP0.8012. The euro traded flat against the dollar at $1.3367, losing small gains made earlier in the day after U.S. weekly jobless claims were higher than expected.
Euro-zone gross domestic product remained unchanged for the second quarter from the previous quarterand rose 0.7% on the same quarter in 2013, Eurostat said Thursday. Euro-zone annual inflation ticked down to 0.4% in July from 0.5% one month earlier, marking the lowest annual inflation rate since October 2009 and staying well below the ECB's target of 2%.
Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected the euro zone to report GDP growth of 0.1% on the quarter and 0.7% on the year, as well as annual inflation at 0.4%.
But investors weren't ready to abandon the euro in large numbers after the data, said Richard Cochinos, head of Americas G-10 FX strategy at Citigroup Inc.
Net investor bets against the euro amount to almost 129,000 contracts worth $21.5 billion, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The numbers mark the most heavily negative euro positioning in the markets in two years, around when the euro crisis peaked.
"Short euro positioning is significant," Mr. Cochinos said. "To a large extent, it won't change; investors won't sell euros without a trigger."
As weak as the numbers were for the euro zone, they were mostly expected and had already been priced into the market, leaving little room for outsize moves. The low numbers, however, increase the likelihood that the European Central Bank will introduce further measures to raise consumer prices and battle inflation, such as the large asset-purchase program the Federal Reserve uses, called quantitative easing.
"Investors are hesitant to add to short euro positions because there's so much uncertainty at the central bank level," said Lennon Sweeting, a dealer at USForex, which helps U.S. corporations hedge their currency exposure. "Overall, global economic growth is proving to be a little uneven and a little vulnerable. A lot of traders and investors are sitting on the sidelines until central banks shift policy, whether that means QE in Europe or a hike in interest rates by the Fed."
Also in the Americas session, the dollar was flat against the yen and British pound in late afternoon trade, at Y102.45 and GBP1.6688, respectively.
Write to James Ramage at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 14, 2014 16:34 ET (20:34 GMT)
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