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Euro sell-off after report ECB looking at corporate bond buys

Chung Sung-Jun - Getty Images

The euro fell sharply against the dollar on Tuesday after Reuters reported the European Central Bank was looking at buying corporate bonds as soon as December in its efforts to revive the stagnating euro zone economy.

The move, if realized, would expand the private-sector asset-buying program the ECB began on Monday, adding to the number of new euros the bank can put into circulation without politically controversial purchases of government bonds.

Flows of leveraged accounts, which largely include hedge funds, have started shifting from profit-taking on short euro positions to funding emerging market trades with euros, according to one trader.

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The euro's early gains evaporated after the publication of the story, and losses have continued to mount during the New York trading session. The euro fell roughly to a session low around $1.27. It traded to a fresh session low near 136 yen, a loss on the day.

The dollar recovered some lost ground against the Japanese currency but was still down around 106 yen.

If the ECB should follow through with this plan, it should also suppress yields on bonds held in euros in general. However, German government bond yields rose after the story was published, reflecting a repricing of expectations for inflation and a declining appetite for low-risk assets.

The diverging directions of monetary policy between mainland Europe and the United States has been the central argument supporting a run higher for the dollar since May.

Most major banks have lined themselves up behind a shift in the dollar's value over the next year or two that should take it at least another 10 percent higher and potentially close to parity with the single currency.

But that move has stalled amid broader doubts about the strength of global growth and likelihood that U.S. policymakers will push ahead with rises in interest rates next year.

Early Tuesday currency trading was dominated by Chinese economic data, which showed third-quarter gross domestic product growth of 7.3 percent, slightly above forecast for the world's second-largest economy.

The Aussie dollar, often seen as a liquid proxy of Chinese growth prospects given Australia's large trade exposure to China, is getting a boost, rising on the day to US$0.8816.

—By Reuters

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