NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro hit a more than two-month low against the dollar and a one-month trough versus the yen on Tuesday, weighed down by delays in aid for debt-burdened Greece and persistent uncertainty about whether Spain will seek a bailout.
Worries about Greece and Spain have caused the euro to lose value against the safe-haven dollar in seven of the last nine trading sessions. So far in November, the euro has fallen 1.9 percent against the dollar and 1.7 percent against the yen.
Greece’s international lenders gave the country more time to fix its budget, though they did not disburse the aid Greece had hoped to use to refinance 5 billion euros of its debt by Friday.
A public clash between Greece’s international lenders over how Athens can bring its debts down to a sustainable level has fuelled fears that Europe’s troubles could flare up anew.
“When those overseeing resolution to the euro zone crisis continue to disagree, it becomes very difficult to instil confidence in investors,” said Sean Cotton, foreign exchange adviser at Bank of the West in San Ramon, California.
In late trading, the euro was slightly lower at $1.2704, having earlier dropped to $1.2660, its lowest since September 7.
A weak German ZEW sentiment survey heightened concerns about the impact of the euro zone crisis on Europe’s largest economy and knocked the euro earlier in the session.
However, a German newspaper report that Germany wants to bundle Greek aid into a single payment of more than 44 billion euros caused the euro to bounce off a two-month low. Traders interpreted the report, which cited government sources, as a sign that the euro zone’s largest economy was eager to see a resolution.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble confirmed on Tuesday that European Union finance leaders discussed giving Greece a single payment instead of three tranches. But if the EU were to decide to do one payment, Schaeuble said there should be control mechanisms in place.
Meanwhile, speculation that Spain, the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy, will formally request a bailout buoyed the country’s bonds and helped put a floor on the euro’s downside.
“Spain bailout speculation caused Spanish bonds to rally strongly, but I do not believe Spain will ask for a bailout before important elections later this month and they may even wait longer, perhaps until next year,” said Marc Chandler, global head of FX strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.
The euro should gain if Spain requests a bailout because it would set the stage for the European Central Bank to buy its debt to lower its borrowing costs.
Matthew Lifson, senior trader and analyst at Cambridge Mercantile Group in Princeton, New Jersey, said the euro continues to be under pressure on the technical charts, with the resistance now firmly in the $1.2720 area.
“Look for the market to continue to probe lower, slowly at first as the euro approaches the $1.2665 area,” said Lifson. “With continued concern in Europe over Greece and Spain, the selling mentality should remain.”
In the United States, the focus remained on the fiscal cliff, a series of massive budget cuts and tax hikes that will take effect if Congress cannot agree on a deal by the end of the year. The concern bolstered the dollar on safe-haven flows.
“Investors are fearful the U.S. economy could slam on the brakes early next year if lawmakers on Capitol Hill don’t come up with a long-term debt fix,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.
The dollar index was up slightly at 81.102, having earlier hit a two-month high of 81.241. The dollar index has so far gained 1.4 percent this month.
Against the yen, the dollar was down 0.1 percent at 79.38 yen.
Additional reporting by Julie Haviv; Editing by Leslie Adler