Major currency markets were steady in Europe on Friday, having ridden out a day of ructions on European stock markets with only minimal moves on the euro and yen.
Strategists were skeptical of whether concerns about Portuguese bank BES would prove the trigger for an immediate change in market tone away from the steady, low volatility plays of the past six months.
But Thursday’s 4 percent slide in Lisbon shares and the losses it brought with it for other European banks supported those who have been warning for the past month or so that there is a bubble in stock and some bond prices that may soon burst.
The main currency candidate to suffer from any such move would be the euro, which has benefited from a flood of money into markets in the euro zone’s indebted southern half over the past year.
“I don’t think you can look at BES and say it’s the start of something, but it is a symptom of what seems to be happening,” said Simon Derrick, head of global FX strategy with Bank of New York Mellon in London.
“All of the reasons for owning the euro over the past year are steadily being taken away. That doesn’t mean euro-dollar is going to shift straight away but it does look increasingly likely that a move is in the pipeline.”
The euro fell half a cent against the dollar on Thursday – a very ordinary daily move. It was flat at $1.3607 in early European trade on Friday.
The yen was poised to end the week higher on Friday, having jumped to a five-month peak against the euro overnight on the sell-off in global equities.
The euro last traded at 137.79 yen, having fallen as far as 137.50, its lowest since early February.
The dollar was at 101.35 yen after touching a seven-week low of 101.06. The Aussie fetched 95.09 yen, following a dip to a five-week low of 94.66.
“Treasury yields and U.S. and Japanese monetary policies remain drivers of the yen,” said Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo.
“The Portuguese banking woes did strengthen the yen, but I see this more as a result of the dollar being sold as Treasury yields fell.”
The Treasury 10-year note yield briefly fell to a five-week low of 2.494 percent on Thursday before pulling back above 2.500 percent.