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The euro pops 30 pips higher with the ECB leaving policy on hold following plenty of chatter leading up to today's meeting suggesting further stimulus was coming. After the big move up, the euro is flat on the session and buying $1.3775.
ECB chief Mario Draghi's press conference beings at 8:30 ET.
German flash manufacturing PMI has dropped to 53.8 in March from 54.8 in February and missed consensus of 54.7.
Services fell to 54 from 55.9 and vs 55.8.
Manufacturing output declined to 57 from 57.4.
Composite output dropped to 55 from 56.4.
Staffing rose for a fifth straight month, although "the increase was largely driven by hiring efforts at service providers," says Markit, "while manufacturing firms only reported a fractional rise in workforce numbers."
Still, the data points to GDP growth of up to 0.7% in Q1, Markit says.
The euro comes back down after jumping a bit following the French PMI and is flat at $1.3795. The DAX is -0.45%. (PR)
French flash manufacturing PMI has climbed to a 33-month high of 51.9 in March from 49.7 in February and topped consensus of 49.8.
Services rose to 51.4 from 47.2 and vs 47.9.
Manufacturing output grew to 52.8 from 50.8.
Composite output increased to 51.6 from 47.9.
"Improving conditions both at home and abroad were reported to have contributed to expansion, although there was further evidence that price discounting had been necessary to support sales," says Markit.
The euro takes a jump and is +0.2% at $1.3822, while the CAC 40 (EWQ) is -0.2%. (PR)
The FOMC does the ECB a favor with its hawkish tilt, taking the euro (FXE) down 0.8% to $1.3827. A check of other currencies finds them lower across the board vs. the greenback: Cable (FXB) -0.4%, yen (FXY) -1.1%, Swiss franc (FXF) -0.9%, loonie (FXC) -1%, aussie (FXA) -1%.
After hitting a 2-1/2 year high in morning action, the euro (FXE -0.3%) does an about face as Mario Draghi tries to hold back the waves, calling the euro "increasingly relevant in our assessment of price stability."
"Any material risk of inflation expectations becoming unanchored will be countered with additional monetary policy measures."
ECB members keep trying to talk down the currency, but the euro keeps moving ahead, up 0.4% this morning and buying $1.3956 - the most since October 2011.
Yesterday, George Soros - launching his new book "The Tragedy of the European Union" - compared the stagnation in the EU to that of Japan. He no doubt sees the strength of the euro in the face of economic weakness as similar to that of the yen during Japan's malaise - a failure of policymakers to come to grips and deal with what confronts them.
The euro pops above $1.38 as Mario Draghi - in his post-ECB meeting press conference - gives no indication in the early-going of any consideration of further monetary ease. It had been thought declining inflation might prompt action, but Draghi calls the upside and downside risks to price developments broadly balanced over the medium-term.
A check of currencies amid the Ukraine military tension finds money flowing, but not flooding, into the greenback. The dollar is +0.2% vs. the euro (FXE), +0.1% vs. cable, +0.5% vs. the yen (FXY), flat against the swissie (FXF), and up 0.3% vs. the loonie (FXC). The reactions in stocks, commodities, and fixed-income are far greater.
The euro gives up sizable gains and turns lower and European stocks add to gains as Mario Draghi - at his post-ECB decision press conference - calls it too soon to declare victory over the eurozone crisis. The economy is recovering, but there are factors afoot which could undermine it - among them a falling inflation rate and a tightening in money markets. He reiterates the bank's intention to use all available instruments as necessary.
The euro is down about 70 pips since he started speaking, now off 0.1% on the session and buying $1.3562. The Stoxx 50 is ahead by 0.7%.
The Istanbul National 100 Index is off nearly another 5% as Prime Minster Erdogan's cabinet shuffle - in which he replaced half of his team with arch-loyalists - has failed to halt the opposition. TUR -7.7% premarket.
The weakening lira looks to be giving the euro (FXE) a bid across the board; it's ahead 1.1% vs. the greenback to $1.3842 - the highest level in more than 2 years. European stocks overall are doing fine, the Stoxx 50 up 1%.
Exchange rates are a matter of common concern, but they are not a target of monetary policy, says Mario Draghi at his press conference following the ECB policy meeting today (no change). The goal, he says, is price stability.
On negative interest rates, Draghi says the topic was brought up, but only got a "brief" discussion.
The borderline hawkish comments are enough to send the euro higher by about 75 pips, now +0.25% on the session and buying $1.3632. FXE +0.3% remarket.
As expected, Eurozone flash manufacturing PMI has edged up to a 29-month high of 51.5 in November from 51.3 in October.
However, services slipped to 50.9 from 51.6 and missed consensus of 51.9.
Composite output declined to 51.5 from 51.9 and fell short of forecasts of 52.
Manufacturing output edged down to 52.8 from 52.9.
"It looks like momentum is being lost again," says Markit. "Deflationary forces may be gathering," while growth outside the "big two" of Germany and France "slowed to near-stagnation." French activity actually contracted.
Overall, the data is indicating that eurozone GDP will rise a "very modest 0.2%" in Q4, says Markit. The second-successive fall in PMI "suggests that the ECB was correct to cut interest rates to a record low at its last meeting."
French flash manufacturing PMI has fallen to 47.8 in November from 49.1 in October and missed consensus of 49.5.
Services dropped to 48.8 from 50.9 and vs 51.
Manufacturing output declined to 47.2 from 49.
Composite output slipped to 48.5 from 50.5.
"The poor set of figures underline the fragility of the economy in the face of a persistently anemic demand environment," Markit says. "Although remaining above the levels seen in the first half of the year, PMI data highlight the risk of a return to recession for France in Q4 following the 0.1% fall in GDP during Q3."
The CAC 40 (EWQ) take a dive and is -0.9%. The euro also tumbles and is -0.3% at $1.3402. (PR)