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Battered euro sags near 8-month lows, hit by German, US data

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The euro struggled to hold above eight-month lows against the dollar on Friday, hurt by a dive in Germany's Ifo survey of business sentiment heading in to the end of the U.S. currency's strongest week since March.

The Ifo numbers, the most watched forward-looking indicator of growth in the euro zone's largest member economy, fell for the third month running, both of its main indexes falling much more than forecast.

The euro fell to near $1.34 in response, within touching distance of Thursday's eight-month lows around $1.3438.

Leading banks have been forecasting a decisive break higher by the dollar against the euro since early this year but have been frustrated by lukewarm U.S. data and yield-seeking investment flows into European stocks and bonds.

But U.S. economic numbers have finally shown some more consistency in the past couple of months and the slightest hints of a more hawkish tone from Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen have proven triggers for a jerk higher in the currency. A number of analysts say that may be the start of something bigger, although there is still caution out there.

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The dollar was little changed under 102 yen after gaining more than 0.3 percent overnight to a two-week high of 101.86 after weekly U.S. filings for first-time jobless benefits fell to the lowest level since early 2006.

The greenback, which has been closely tracking U.S. debt yields, was also helped by a rise in yields after encouraging U.S. data. It was poised to gain about 0.4 percent on the week against the Japanese currency but lacked the momentum to test the 102.00 threshold. Market players said selling of yen crosses was a factor capping further advances by the dollar.

The essence of the argument against the euro is a poorer economic outlook that many argue will force the European Central Bank to take more steps - potentially the outright money-printing resisted so strongly to date by German policymakers. The prospect of an exchange of growth-sapping sanctions with Russia after the downing of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine last week were also among the factors in the low reading of Ifo and have weighed on the euro more broadly.

--By Reuters

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