Euro lifted off six-week low by Italian budget speculation

LONDON (Reuters) – The euro rebounded on Wednesday after reports that Italy plans to reduce its budget deficit over the next three years, but traders said the rally could be short-lived.

FILE PHOTO: A two Euro coin is pictured next to an English ten Pound note in an illustration taken March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Illustration

Uncertainty surrounding Italy’s debt, fiscal plans and future ties with Europe have unnerved markets recently and exacerbated tensions with other euro zone leaders.

The euro has suffered as a result, and on Tuesday it slid to a six-week low after a senior lawmaker suggested that Italy should re-adopt a national currency, prompting a broad market sell-off.

The single currency regained some ground on Wednesday after Italian newspapers said Rome aims to gradually reduce its budget deficit to 2 percent of gross domestic product in 2021.

“That the Italian government is trying to appease its EU partners can be seen as a step in the right direction and therefore justifies some euro-positive reaction,” said Thu Lan Nguyen, a FX strategist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt.

“The devil is in the details. The euro’s recovery will only continue if the new fiscal plans are also feasible,” she said.

The euro was up 0.3 percent at $1.1578 following its descent to $1.1505 overnight, its lowest since Aug. 21.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will meet ministers over the budget at around 1100 GMT on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Four thousand U.S. dollars are counted out by a banker counting currency at a bank in Westminster, Colorado November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Other analysts are less sanguine about the euro.

“When was the last time you ever heard anybody question the integrity of any other G8 currency?” said CMC Markets’ chief analyst, Michael Hewson.

“The fact that [Italian] politicians feel the need to constantly reiterate this line speaks to a fundamental weakness at the heart of the single-currency area,” he said.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was 0.2 percent lower at 95.313 after scaling 95.744 overnight, its highest since Sept. 4.

The yen and the Swiss franc, both safe-haven currencies, dipped against peers such as the euro, dollar and Australian dollar.

“U.S. data due later today, such as the non-manufacturing ISM index, will provide a chance to see if the economy is performing in line with the Fed’s views,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

Ishikawa said the dollar has benefited from recent euro weakness but that fundamental factors after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates last month had played a larger role. The dollar index has advanced about 1.4 percent since the Fed moved last Wednesday and said it foresees another rate hike in December.

The pound was 0.1 percent lower at $1.2995 after dropping on Tuesday to $1.2941, its weakest since Sept. 10, as conflicts over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan escalated.

The Australian dollar was down 0.3 percent at $0.7165 and within touching distance of a two-week trough of $0.7162 brushed on Tuesday.

(This story has been refiled to fix typo in third paragraph.)

Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; editing by Larry King

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