May 16, 2017 / 12:49 PM / 2 months ago

FOREX-Euro surges above $1.10 to 6-month high as Trump worries hit dollar

4 Min Read

* Dollar falls broadly on worries over Trump

* Doubts creeping in over June Fed hike

* Euro buoyed by strong GDP data

* Swedish crown falls sharply

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Jemima Kelly

LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - The euro surged above $1.10 on Tuesday, climbing 0.8 percent to its highest since Donald Trump was elected U.S. president in November, as the dollar weakened broadly on worries over his disclosure of information to Russian officials.

Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend his decision to share intelligence with the Russians during a White House meeting last week, saying he had an "absolute right" to share "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety".

But Trump faced a torrent of criticism, with the disclosures late on Monday roiling the administration as it struggled to move past the backlash over Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating the president's ties to Russia, last week.

That political turmoil, analysts said, was playing out via the dollar, whose broad index had risen to 14-year highs earlier this year on the view that Trump's plans for tax cuts and infrastructure spending would boost growth and inflation, but which fell to six-month lows on Tuesday.

Fears are growing among investors that Trump might not last his first term, analysts said, and that even if he does, there were too many political distractions for him to be able to push through his economic stimulus programme.

"(The story about Trump and Russia) probably is playing out as a weaker dollar on the view that Trump may not be around long enough to deliver his tax reform, which is at least partially priced into the dollar," said RBC Capital Markets currency strategist Adam Cole, in London.

While the dollar was down across the board, the euro was the main beneficiary of its weakness, reaching $1.1066, its highest since Nov. 9, with analysts saying the fact that it had broken past the important $1.10 level meant investors had to close bets against the currency and buy it back, which had exaggerated the move.

30 billion euros' worth of demand for a French debt sale might also have spurred euro buying.

Data released earlier in the day showed the euro zone growing at 1.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, in line with expectations.

While the euro zone picks up speed, traders are wondering whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will fail to deliver the June rate increase that they had been almost fully pricing in last week, after some weaker-than-expected U.S. data.

Fed Hike Doubts

Investors are still pricing in around a 73-percent chance of a June hike, but that was down from a more than 80-percent chance last week, according to CME's FedWatch tool.

And Citi’s U.S. economic surprise index continues to plunge deeper into negative territory, falling to its lowest level since May last year, while the euro zone equivalent remains close to its highest levels of the year.

Against the Swedish crown, the euro rose as much as 1 percent to hit its highest level in almost five months at 9.7840 crowns per euro, after Sweden's central bank introduced a variation band around its 2-percent inflation target.

"Today's Swedish crown weakness is primarily driven by the strong euro, rather than the Riskbank proposal for a change in the inflation target, which, in isolation, is no game changer," said ING currency strategist Petr Krpata.

"The change is not powerful enough to alter materially the perception of the Riksbank monetary outlook."

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets (Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Singapore; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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