Euro struggles in Asia amid Greece's debt woes

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 18 2010 12:18 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2010 08:19 PM

TOKYO - The euro struggled in Asian trade Monday as investors anticipated a weak business sentiment survey from Germany amid worries of a looming budget crisis in Greece, dealers said.

The euro slid to $1.4345 in Tokyo morning trade from $1.4385 in New York late Friday. It dropped to 130.28 yen from 130.55. The dollar was flat at 90.82 yen.

Germany's ZEW economic sentiment index out on Tuesday is likely to have taken a beating for the fourth straight month in January on concerns that Greece's debt woes may derail recovery in the region, dealers said.

The indicator, which surveys financial experts on their outlook for Germany, Europe's main growth engine, is expected to have fallen to 49.5 this month from 50.4 in December, according to analyst forecasts.

"Admittedly, investors were already keen to sell the single (European) currency as concerns about the fallout from the Greek debt crisis escalated," NAB Capital strategist John Kyriakopoulos told clients.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week said Greece's fiscal crisis put the euro in a "very difficult phase", while European Central Bank governor Jean-Claude Trichet warned of a bumpy recovery in the fragile eurozone.

Investors were also waiting ahead of a slew of US earnings reports later this week, after JPMorgan Chase opened the earnings season for banks on a strong note last Friday. US markets are closed Monday for a public holiday.

Citigroup will release its fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday followed by Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo on Wednesday, and Goldman Sachs on Thursday.

Dealers said market players will also be looking to China's fourth-quarter GDP figure on Thursday, which is likely to show double-digit growth, as well as data showing inflation ticking up.

Calyon analyst Sebastien Barbe said he expects that Chinese borrowing costs via market interest rates will increase in the first quarter of the year, due to the strong economic numbers and rising inflation.