SYDNEY (Reuters) - The euro wallowed at 11-year lows early on Friday after suffering a massive decline as the European Central Bank launched a stimulus program that would pump hundreds of billions in new money into a sagging euro zone economy.
The common currency tumbled to $1.1316 as the market took in news that the ECB would purchase sovereign debt from this March until the end of September 2016, by which time more than 1 trillion euros would have been created under quantitative easing.
“It will underpin market expectations that interest rates will remain very low for very long, and it will put further downward pressure on the euro, especially if the U.S. Federal Reserve starts raising rates this year, as we expect,” analysts at Barclays wrote in a note to clients.
The euro last stood at $1.1361 and was on track to end lower for a sixth straight week. It has dropped 9 percent in the past six weeks, its worst performance since June 2010.
Given such a big move over a relatively short time, the euro could be in for a period of consolidation, traders said. But they added there was already talk of a parity party by year end.
The common currency also lost ground against the other major currencies. It fell to a three-month trough of 134.28 yen and reached a seven-year low of 75.51 pence.
Against the Swiss franc, it dipped to 0.9890 francs, although the magnitude of the move was nothing compared with last week’s plunge after the Swiss National Bank’s shock decision to abandon its 1.20 per euro currency cap.
The greenback benefited from the selloff in the euro and reached a fresh 11-year high against a basket of major currencies. The dollar index climbed as far as 94.497, a high not seen since September 2003.
Sterling slid to an 18-month low of $1.4973 and the Canadian dollar re-tested a 5-1/2-year low of C$1.2420 per USD, a level first reached on Wednesday after the Bank of Canada unexpectedly cut interest rates.
The Australian dollar briefly dipped below 80 U.S. cents for the first time in over five years. It last stood at $0.8020.
With the ECB done and dusted, traders said market attention will now turn to China where expectations of more stimulus have persisted after growth cooled to its slowest in 24 years in 2014.
A private survey on China’s manufacturing sector for January, due at 0145 GMT, will be closely watched.
Reporting by Ian Chua; Editing by Tom Brown