Euro jumps after French debate, Fed expectations top out

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The euro surged towards 6-month highs around $1.0950 on Thursday as support for the dollar from Wednesday's Federal Reserve statement faded and investors took heart from French centrist Emmanuel Macron's performance in a TV presidential debate. The euro hit $1.0953 earlier, its highest point against the U.S. dollar since November 2016.

The dollar had gained against a number of major currencies in early trade in Europe but buying faded as major European names judged the Fed's meeting gave was no reason for further ramping up bets on rises in U.S. rates this year.

That rethink knocked around half a cent off the dollar's value against the euro to leave it trading 0.4 percent lower on the day at $1.0928.

"There have been some technical factors in the moves this morning," said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of G10 FX strategy with Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

"The initial drop yesterday was understandable but when the Europeans came in this morning there were some second thoughts. The PMI data (today) and the French TV debate have also probably helped a little."

There was buying of French stocks and bonds in response to Macron's solid showing in his debate with anti-EU nationalist Marine Le Pen on Wednesday, which headed off worries of a last minute surge for the far-right candidate.

The dollar continued to perform well, however, against the yen — reaching 113 yen for the first time in seven weeks — and the bloc of commodity-linked currencies headed by the Australian dollar.

The weakness of the Aussie — typically a pro-growth play — at a time when the mood on stock markets is upbeat, stems from sharp falls in the price of iron ore and other commodities that suggest a rise in concern about the Chinese economy.

"Something is not right in the commodities space and it has not been right for two weeks," said Richard Benson, co-head of portfolio investment at currency fund Millennium Global.

"The dollar is strong after the Fed but the euro cannot go down at the moment. With commodity prices falling, that means the strength plays out in the commodity FX space."

The broader dollar index traded less than 0.1 percent on the day after hitting a two-week high of 99.462.

It was 0.36 percent weaker at $0.7394 per Aussie dollar and 0.42 percent lower against the New Zealand dollar.

Traders pointed to comments by JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon at a conference in Los Angeles. He was reported as reassuring investors that the bank would have a bad day but would still make money if China kicked out foreign investors.

"Recent pressure on world commodity prices culminated in some precipitous moves overnight ... and from a technical perspective at least, the signs are ominous," said Neil Mellor, senior currency strategist with Bank of New York Mellon in London.