LONDON – The euro slid toward an 11-year low against the dollar as the European Central Bank expanded its bond-buying program to include government bonds, a policy that tends to debase the currency.
The 19-nation shared currency fell against all but one of its 16 major peers, touching the weakest level in almost seven years against the pound. The ECB plans to buy 60 billion euros ($69 billion) a month of public and private debt until September 2016, President Mario Draghi told reporters in Frankfurt. Before the announcement, the ECB was said to have considered buying 50 billion euros a month. Switzerland’s franc climbed against the euro for a third day.
“It’s greater than expectations in terms of size and duration,” said Neil Jones, head of hedge-fund sales at Mizuho Bank Ltd. in London, said of the ECB’s plans. “Today’s measures will keep downward pressure on the value of the euro.”
The euro fell 1 percent to $1.1493 at 2:37 p.m. in London. It slid to $1.1460 on Jan. 16, the weakest level since November 2003. The shared currency fell 1.5 percent to ¥134.92. The dollar dropped 0.5 percent to ¥117.35.
The ECB “decided to launch an expanded asset program encompassing the existing purchase programs,” Draghi said. “We see sustained adjustment in the path of inflation which is consistent with our aim of achieving” rates close to but below 2 percent, he said.
While the ECB previously bought sovereign debt under its now-defunct Securities Market Program, it had thus far stopped short of the full-scale quantitative easing used by its counterparts in the U.S., U.K. and Japan.
“We remain comfortable holding short euro-dollar,” said Alvin T. Tan, a foreign-exchange strategist at Societe Generale SA in London, referring to a bet the euro will weaken. “The medium-term trend is clear and we would go with it.”
The shared currency dropped 0.9 percent to 75.95 British pence after reaching 75.78 pence, the strongest level since February 2008. It slid 0.7 percent to 99.15 Swiss centimes. Switzerland’s currency had been capped at 1.20 per euro until the Swiss National Bank removed the ceiling on Jan. 15.
The Federal Reserve, which ended its third round of QE in October, owns about 20 percent of outstanding U.S. debt, while the Bank of Japan boosted its annual debt-buying target to a record ¥80 trillion the same month. The Bank of England has kept its asset-purchase target unchanged at 375 billion pounds ($567 billion) since July 2012.
The euro has plunged for six-straight months against the dollar on anticipation of a bond-buying plan. Declines started midway through Draghi’s news conference in May, after the euro has risen to $1.3993, its strongest level during his tenure. It began to slide after he said the ECB was ready to introduce more stimulus measures, and ended the year down 12 percent against the dollar, its biggest loss since 2005. The euro has extended those declines into 2015, falling about 5.1 percent.
One-week implied volatility on the euro against the dollar fell after the announcement. It dropped to 15.23 percent from as high as 20.66 percent.
The dollar is the biggest gainer in the past week among 10 developed-nation peers tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes. It has risen 1.8 percent, the euro advanced 0.3 percent, while the yen rose 0.5 percent.
“The U.S. is standing out even more as central banks continue to ease policy,” said Junichi Ishikawa, market analyst at IG Markets Securities Ltd. in Tokyo. “Conditions remain supportive for the dollar.”
The International Monetary Fund this week upgraded its forecast for the U.S. even as it made the steepest cut to its global-growth outlook in three years.
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