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BusinessDesk: 'The hope that fiscal consolidation will make people optimistic ... is something we should give up'

BusinessDesk: 'The hope that fiscal consolidation will make people optimistic ... is something we should give up'

The euro has fallen to an 11-month low versus the US dollar and global equities are extending losses on Wall Street amid fresh worries that efforts to solve the debt crisis will crimp overall world economic growth.

There’s been a chorus of voices overnight from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Olivier Blanchard, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, seeking to downplay the speed at which the euro crisis will be resolved.

And French officials are seeking to soften what is seen as an imminent downgrade of that nation’s credit rating.

"The hope that fiscal consolidation will make people optimistic about the future and lead to a boom in the economy next year I think is something we should give up," Blanchard said in speaking on a panel at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

As risk aversion rises, the euro is being hit.

The single currency fell below the $US1.30 mark for the first time in 11 months. The 17-nation euro also declined to a 10-week low against the yen as Italian borrowing costs increased at a debt auction and Spanish banks’ borrowings from the European Central Bank climbed by the most in a year, Bloomberg reported.

The euro slipped 0.6 percent to $US1.2960 at 10.56am New York time, after depreciating to $US1.2959, the weakest level since January 12.

The euro’s 14-day relative strength index versus the dollar weakened to 28.8 today, the lowest level since October 3. A reading below 30 signals that an asset may be oversold and due to reverse direction, though it could also signal a re-evaluation is taking place.

The Dollar Index, which IntercontinentalExchange Inc. uses to track the U.S. currency against those of six trading partners, rose 0.6 percent to 80.706 and touched 80.726, the highest since January 12.

Stocks in Europe and on Wall Street has both dropped as euro worries fill the void in the absence of any major corporate news.

The Stoxx 600 plunged 2.1 percent to 232.44 at the close. It has shed 16 percent so far this year. In London, the FTSE 100 ended 2.25 percent lower.

Investors had little to cheer about in New York either. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.83 percent lower shortly after midday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 0.93 percent. The Nasdaq fell 1.53 percent.

Eight of 10 S&P 500 sectors were down, with energy leading the way. The S&P 500 fell below its 50-day moving average, which may be a portent of more losses.

Contributing to the market’s malaise today was a drop in commodities prices, partially linked to the dimming global economic outlook and also the strength of the US dollar. Oil and gold were lower.

Oil bulls got little help if they were hoping for a cut in OPEC output. In Vienna, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on a target of 30 million barrels daily, ratifying current production near three-year highs.

But commodities aren’t about to reset the market’s focus.

"The main issue right now is the complete, absolute failure of the European Union to come to any kind of solution. They're back to where they started from," Jeffrey Sica, president and chief investment officer at SICA Wealth Management in Morristown, New Jersey, told Reuters.


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