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QE effect sinks euro below $1.08, Greek worries return

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The euro sank below $1.08 for the first time in almost 12 years on Tuesday, as the latest round of dollar gains brought into focus a run towards parity that most major banks had not expected until next year.

The also fell, burdened by efforts to revive inflation in Japan as well as by the grim outlook for most of the world economy outside of the United States.

An almost 5 percent fall in factory prices in China drove the Australian dollar to an almost six-year low - giving another boost to its U.S. counterpart against a basket of major currencies.

Several major banks have forecast the dollar will be worth as much as the euro next year or in 2017. But even allowing for the launch of euro zone quantitative easing, Reuters polling shows most had not expected the euro to fall to $1.08 for another six months.

Another round of dollar buying since a perceived change to a less cautious tone from the U.S. Federal Reserve has driven the greenback up another 5 percent in less than two weeks. It traded as high as $1.07345 on Tuesday.

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"The downward trend (in the euro) is continuing and it seems like it will be very difficult to stop," said Ian Stannard, European head of FX strategy with Morgan Stanley in London.

"The ECB QE operation got under way and that has reduced yields. The euro is following that and it looks like many people's long-term targets will be reached much earlier than they had expected."

He and others in the market said there were also worries about the tone of relations between Greece and its euro zone creditors as they seek to use a four-month extension to its financing to hammer out a new longer-term deal.

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"Greece is the wild card," Stannard said. "I think the market's assumption is that the extension would give us a breather, but the negotiation process still does not seem to be going smoothly, let's say."

The dollar rose as high as 122.04 yen, the highest since July 2007, after bouncing from an overnight low of 120.615. The dollar index reached a new 11-1/2 year high of 98.196, having gained about 3 percent so far this month.

"Not much suggests that this downward trend should change," said Chris Turner, head of foreign exchange strategy with Dutch bank ING in London. "In the near term we expect the euro decline to culminate against the dollar next week around the 18 March Federal Reserve meeting.''