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Euro climbs amid tempered ECB hopes

Joseph De Sciose| Photolibrary | Getty Images

The dollar softened on Wednesday as traders focused on riskier currencies, while the battered euro hit a 19-month low against the Swiss franc amid speculation the European Central Bank will resort to quantitative easing.

Buying of the Australian dollar and other currencies from commodities-centered economies were also helped by the euro's weakness as investors exiting the common currency took on more risk, a strategist said.

After rising steadily, and this week repeatedly setting new 2014 highs, the dollar index was off 0.25 percent above 82 in New York trading. The basket of six currencies earlier on Wednesday touched 82.727, a 13-month peak.

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The New Zealand dollar rose over 0.6 percent near $0.84, after giant cooperative Fonterra announced a partnership with a Chinese food manufacturer to sell milk in China. Dairy is New Zealand's largest export earner.

The U.S. dollar was off nearly 1 percent above 1.08 Canadian dollars in trading after U.S. restaurant group Burger King announced an $11 billion deal for Canada's Tim Hortons.

The euro, which traded near $1.40 in May, hit a 13-month low against the dollar earlier on Wednesday, though it recovered later to a session high in New York of $1.32 after a report the ECB appeared unlikely to shift polices next week.

Currency markets this week have been preoccupied with expectations the ECB will loosen its monetary polices, according to Alan Ruskin, global head of foreign exchange strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York.

The euro has been hit in recent weeks by a slew of weak data from the euro zone, where inflation fell to 0.4 percent in July and is expected to have fallen to 0.3 percent in August in data published on Friday. That is far below the ECB's ``danger zone'' of 1 percent, let alone its target of just under 2 percent.

ECB chief Mario Draghi fueled speculation that monetary policy would be further loosened in the euro zone over the weekend by saying the central bank would use ``all the available instruments'' to deal with the threat of deflation at the U.S. Federal Reserve's annual conference in Jackson Hole.

The euro hit almost 1.206 Swiss francs, its lowest since January 2013, and was last off 0.08 percent for the day at 1.207 francs.

Get the latest on currencies here.

—By Reuters. CNBC.com contributed to this report.

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