Euro surges above $1.21 to 3-year high on ECB…

Euro surges above $1.21 to 3-year high on ECB…

On the other hand, the dollar was broadly weak after USA wholesale price dipped in December from November, reinforcing investors' expectations of a tame inflation. It was on track for a more than 1.5 percent rise since Thursday - its strongest two-day performance since August.

Investors would probably take a policy message change as a sign that rate-setters may begin to wind down their 2.55-trillion-euro bond-buying program.

The dollar stayed in the doldrums after USA wholesale prices dipped in December from November, reinforcing investors' expectations that inflation will remain low.

Minutes of the European Central Bank's December policy vote show that favourable data on the economy had led policymakers to drop some their references to the region's recovery and instead focus more on what they now viewed as a "continued robust and increasingly self sustaining economic expansion".

MSCI's index of European stocks index eked out a 0.1 per cent gain as the euro hit its highest in three years at $1.2128 and last traded up 0.8 per cent at $1.2126.

The Bank of France raised its fourth-quarter growth forecast to 0.6% ( quarter-on-quarter from a previous forecast of 0.5%.

The trade-weighted index advanced to 75.17 from 74.78 on Thursday, rising to its highest level since mid-October.

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Bitcoin was 4.8-percent lower at $14,168.95 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange after South Korea's government said it plans to ban cryptocurrency trading.

The dollar index was down by 0.05% to 91.81 as of 11.57am Shanghai time. Japan's Nikkei dipped 0.1 percent.

The central bank left monetary policy unchanged at the mid-December meeting, but previously announced it would slow down its monthly purchases of bonds from €60bn to €30bn - an acknowledgement that less stimulus was needed.

The benchmark 2-year U.S. Treasury yield rose to its highest level since 2008 on Wednesday, after Bloomberg News reported that officials in Beijing had recommended that China's government lower - or even potentially cease - its buying of U.S. sovereign debt. In precious metals, gold edged up 0.4% without any major news behind the move, likely boosted by the softer United States dollar. Surveys of confidence have surged and measures of activity are at multi-year highs.

The burst of business in options and the prospect of heightened volatility is likely to be welcome news for currency investors, whose returns suffered a year ago as volatility tumbled amid well-telegraphed central-bank policy.

Brent crude prices hit $70 a barrel on signs of tightening crude stocks but settled off that level on Thursday, while a jump in energy shares helped lift USA stocks.

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