Currencies

Euro jumps as ECB increases stimulus

Euro banknotes with different values.
Jens Büttner | picture alliance via Getty Images

The euro jumped to a 12-week high against the U.S. dollar on Thursday after the European Central Bank increased stimulus to shore up economies hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ECB increased the size of its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) to 1.35 trillion euros ($1.52 trillion) from 750 billion euros, more than the 500 billion-euro increase most analysts had expected, and extended it until June 2021 at the earliest, with a pledge to reinvest proceeds until at least the end of 2022.

"This highlights the ECB's commitment to strengthening the recovery," said Jai Malhi, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in London. "The euro zone may well emerge from the COVID-19 recession more quickly than the U.S. and UK.

The single currency EUR= was last up 0.21% on the day at $1.1256, after earlier reaching $1.1273, the highest since March 12. It has gained for eight consecutive sessions.

The dollar index =USD, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, fell 0.18% on the day to 97.144.

The dollar has declined for the past two weeks as risk sentiment improves and stocks surge on optimism that the worst of the economic downturn from the coronavirus has passed.

A stocks rally appeared to run out of steam on Thursday, however, with Wall Street opening lower.

U.S. data showed that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped below 2 million last week for the first time since mid-March, but remains astonishingly high as companies adjust to an environment that has been significantly changed by COVID-19.

The dollar fell 0.15% against the safe-haven Japanese yen JPY= to 108.72 yen, after earlier gaining to 109.16, the highest since April 7.

The Australian dollar AUD=, which has been one of the best performers from the recent increase in risk appetite, dippped 0.4% to $0.6916, after reaching $0.6983 on Wednesday, the highest since Jan. 3.