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EUR/USD is steady as the Euro-zone finance  ministers reconvene  in Brussels today, with the Greek crisis at the top of the agenda. However, German officials have hinted that  it is unlikely that  a final decision will be reached over Greece at the meeting. Meanwhile, the Moody’s credit rating agency  downgraded  France from AAA to AA1, stating that  France’s economic outlook remains “negative”.  In the US, Existing Home Sales came in slightly above the estimate, and the markets will be hoping for a repeat in today’s release of US Building Permits.

EUR/USD Technical

  • Asian session: Euro/dollar edged upwards and broke through the 1.28 line. The pair  has  inched higher  in the European session.
  • Current range: 1.28 to 1.2880.

Further levels in both directions:    

  • Below: 1.28, 1.2750, 1.2690, 1.2624, 1.2590, 1.25, 1.2440, 1.2390, 1.2250, 1.2140 and 1.2042.
  • Above: 1.2880, 1.2960, 1.30, 1.3030, 1.3080, 1.3140, and 1.3170.
  • 1.28 is  providing weak support  as the pair  edges higher.  1.2750 is stronger.
  • 1.2880 is  providing strong resistance.

Euro/dollar edges higher  ahead of Eurogroup meeting  – click on the graph to enlarge.

EUR/USD Fundamentals

  • All Day: Eurogroup Meetings.
  • 13:30 US Building Permits. Exp. 0.87M.
  • 13:30 US Housing Starts. Exp. 0.84M.
  • 14:00 US FOMC Member Jeffrey Lacker Speaks.
  • 17:15  Fed Chairman Bernard Bernanke  Speaks.

For more events and lines, see the Euro to dollar forecast

EUR/USD Sentiment

  • Eurogroup meets again to discuss Greece: The Euro-zone finance ministers are meeting today, and the markets are hopeful that some progress will be made over the Greek debt crisis. However,  Germany’s deputy finance minister Steffen Kampeter downplayed expectations, saying that a deal could possibly be reached this week. Meanwhile, the Greek government has been implementing some additional reforms  demanded by the troika. These include an overhaul of the tax system, the creation of a committee to supervise budget execution and further privatizations.
  • Moody’s downgrades France: The Moody’s credit agency downgraded France from its AAA rating to AA1. The agency followed up with a tough assessment, warning that France’s economic outlook remains “negative”, and that  it had doubts that the Hollande government could implement  necessary structural reforms and spending cuts. Moody’s also noted that the French economy was at risk due to other struggling Euro-zone members.   The downgrade followed a scathing  report in the prestigious Economist magazine about the perilous state of the France’s economy, entitled “The time bomb at the heart of Europe”. It’s an understatement to say that the French government is  very  unhappy with these two developments, which  may well lead to  investors and companies thinking twice before  doing business  with France.
  • Markets upbeat  over fiscal cliff co-operation: With the US election behind us, many pundits expected the fiscal cliff crisis to get entangled in gridlock on Capital Hill. In a refreshing surprise, Congressional leaders and President Obama sounded upbeat after meeting on Friday. The leaders are seeking to reassure nervous taxpayers and investors that they will take fast and decisive action to avoid massive tax hikes set to occur in January. However, Republicans and Democrats are far apart on how best to reduce the staggering debt, and reaching a compromise promises to be a difficult task. The last thing the markets want to see is a nasty, protracted fight between Congress and the president.
  • Middle East violence continues: The fighting between Hamas and Israel has not let up, with Hamas firing rockets into Israel as the latter pounds targets in Gaza. Over the weekend, rockets landed in Tel Aviv and near Jerusalem, raising fears that Israel could widen the conflict and respond with an all-out land invasion of Gaza.The US, Europeans and Egypt are actively trying to broker a cease fire, and there are indications that the  two sides will agree to stop fighting later this week. In the latest development, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due  to arrive in  Israel  Tuesday evening to help  mediate a truce. A wider conflict could easily spill over and lead to massive unrest in the volatile Middle East. Oil prices have risen, and the currency markets could  react sharply  to react if the crisis worsens.
  • Weak US data surprises markets: We have heard a lot about the US economic recovery, but it certainly wasn’t apparent in some key releases last week. The Philly Fed Manufacturing Index tumbled to -10.7 points, shocking the markets, which had predicted a small gain. Unemployment Claims shot up to 475 thousand, well above the estimate of 372K. The Empire State Manufacturing Index was slightly higher than the forecast, but remained in contraction territory for the fourth straight month. If the weak US numbers continue, we could see EUR/USD react with some volatility.
  • IMF, EuroGroup in public spat over Greece crisis: The IMF and Eurogroup are butting heads over what action to take concerning Greece’s long-term debt. At a meeting last week, the Euro-zone finance ministers agreed to give Greece a two-year extension, until 2016, to reduce its deficit to 2% of GDP. The Eurogroup also decided to postpone a decision on the next tranche of aid until November 20. The IMF, for its part, wants another round of debt restructuring of Greece, so that the country can realistically meet the goal of 120% debt to GDP ratio by 2020. The bottom line is that the IMF want the euro-zone countries to take on the losses of Greek loans. This, of course, is unpalatable to Germany and other EZ members, and the IMF could respond by exiting the troika. Greece managed to avoid an immediate default last week, after issuing short-term bonds. But the  uncertainty over  more aid for Greece continues  to make investors nervous.  With the Eurogroup meeting  today to discuss the Greek crisis, the markets will be closely monitoring developments.