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Euro Trades Near 10-Month Low as Trichet Says IMF Aid ‘Bad’
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By Ben Levisohn

March 25 (Bloomberg) — The euro traded near a 10-month low versus the dollar after European Central Bank President Jean- Claude Trichet said that aid for a euro-area nation from any outside group such as the International Monetary Fund is “very, very bad.”

South Africa’s rand dropped against all of its most-traded counterparts after the nation’s central bank unexpectedly lowered its benchmark interest rate. Mexico’s peso rose against most of the 16 as the jobless rate in February fell more than forecast. Leaders of the euro region met in Brussels to debate a French-German contingency plan for a mix of IMF and bilateral loans to help Greece deal with its budget deficit.

The market doesn’t care that “France and Germany are saying they have the framework to a plan to support Greece including the IMF,” said John Curran, a Toronto-based senior vice president at CanadianForex Ltd. “It’s like ‘Yeah, OK, great, I have a plan for winning the lottery, too.’ Show us something that works.”

The euro fell 0.3 percent to $1.3273 at 5 p.m. in New York after advancing earlier as much as 0.5 percent. The 16-nation currency touched $1.3268, the lowest since May 7. It rose 0.2 percent to 123.08 yen, from 122.89 yesterday. The dollar gained 0.5 percent to 92.72 yen, from 92.30. It touched 92.96 yen, the highest level since Jan. 8.

French-German Plan

Euro-area leaders agreed on a French-German plan, an EU official said late today on the condition of not being further identified at a summit meeting in Brussels.

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Trichet, in an interview broadcast earlier on France’s Public Senat television, said, “If the IMF or any other authority exercises any responsibility instead of the euro group, instead of the governments, this would clearly be very, very bad.”

The central banker’s comments, recorded earlier today, were broadcast shortly after aides to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Brussels they’d agreed on a framework to aid debt-stricken Greece. The plan called for IMF funds in addition to bilateral loans to Greece, according to aides who spoke on condition of anonymity because the accord has yet to be approved. European Union leaders are meeting in a two-day summit.

“Trichet’s comments highlight the ongoing uncertainty in the EU and it’s the uncertainty that’s impacting the market,” said Camilla Sutton, a Bank of Nova Scotia currency strategist in Toronto. “The implication is that an IMF aid package would be negative for the currency.”

Goldman Exits Bet

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. exited a bet that the euro would strengthen against the dollar after the trade lost 2.8 percent.

“We have clearly underestimated the impact on the euro from the European sovereign crisis and perhaps also from the broader macroadjustment that it portends,” five Goldman analysts including Thomas Stolper, a London-based economist, wrote in an e-mail message to Bloomberg News today. “These political headwinds currently matter far more for the euro than the cyclical factors.”

The rand slid to a three-week low versus the dollar after South Africa’s central bank unexpectedly lowered its benchmark interest rate as the currency’s 26 percent rally since the start of last year helped curb inflation.

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The currency of Africa’s biggest economy lost as much as 1.4 percent to 7.4983 per dollar, the weakest intraday level since March 5, before trading at 7.4817, down 1.2 percent from 7.3940 yesterday.

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