It Sounds Like The Euro Has Become One Of The Hottest Topics On Wall Street

All of a sudden, everybody is talking about the euro.

The currency has risen 8% against the U.S. dollar since July 9, when selling induced by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s June 19 press conference — in which he hinted at tapering quantitative easing, causing strength in the dollar — culminated.

Today, the euro trades just below $US1.38.

Steven Englander, global head of G10 FX strategy at Citi, just returned from client meetings in South America, and he said the thing everyone was asking about the most was the euro.

“The bulk of questions received were on EUR/USD, and our views were into year end,” he writes in a note. “Most clients were happy to see it lower, but conviction was low as to the timing of the move. Views for significant EUR/USD upside were again also limited. Several accounts were buying EUR/USD presently, but discussions of the trade tended to lack medium-term justifications, although several clients cited technical reasons. The dominant view was EUR/USD could rise to 1.40, although investors in European assets were looking to establish hedges on their underlying exposure.”

Société Générale global head of economics Michala Marcussen also says the number-one question from her clients is about the euro.

In a note, she writes:

TOP CLIENT QUESTIONS

WHY IS THE EURO SO STRONG?

Investor inflows is the most common answer

Hitting a two-year high against the U.S. dollar last week of just over $US1.38, euro strength appears to be defying the traditional fundamental explanations of the relative monetary policy stance, external balances and growth differentials. Foreign investor inflows – attracted by abating tail risks, attractive valuations and green shoots of recovery — now appears the most common answer. There is an obvious, if undesirable, self correction mechanism to this logic, should foreign investors ultimately be disappointed by the euro area recovery. A scenario that becomes more likely, the longer euro strength continues.

In the week ended October 23, investors poured $US5 billion into European equity funds, marking the biggest weekly inflow ever into the asset class.

These funds have seen nothing but inflows for the past 17 weeks — since the beginning of the second quarter, when PMI surveys suggested the eurozone was finally emerging from recession.

Investor sentiment toward eurozone assets seems to have been spurred by recent improvements in the currency bloc’s economic picture.

“Why won’t the euro go down when everyone says it will?” says Neville Hill, head of European economics at Credit Suisse. “The euro area’s current account has skyrocketed to a record 2.5-3% of GDP…we think that’s why euro shorts are consistently disappointed!”

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