The euro was little changed against the US dollar on Monday, trading above 1.13 cents US ahead of the European Union meetings in Brussels. The meetings, which will be held on Wednesday, will be attended by newly appointed Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The EUR/USD climbed 0.06 percent to 1.1326. The pair is likely supported at 1.1259. Resistance is ascending from 1.1435.
Risk-off trading was the norm on Monday, as investors digested latest comments from the newly appointment Greek Prime Minister, who on Sunday outlined plans to dismantle the Troika’s “cruel” austerity plan. Tspiras said he would not extend Greece’s €240 billion bailout plan set to expire at the end of the month, setting the stage for a political standoff with the country’s European lenders.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker fired back on Monday, telling Greece the supranational institution would not bow to its demands.
“Greece should not assume that the overall mood has so changed that the Eurozone will adopt Tspiras’ government program unconditionally,” Juncker said in Germany on Monday.
Tspiras’ far-left coalition swept to power last month on a platform of “anti-austerity,” promising voters to raise the minimum wage, cut taxes and negotiate a new bailout agreement with international creditors. The Syriza party secured 36 percent of the vote and 149 of 300 parliament seats.
Meanwhile, escalating violence in Ukraine continued to weigh on market sentiment, driving investors to safe haven assets like the Japanese yen and gold. At least 45 Ukrainian soldiers and 11 pro-Russia fighters have been killed in renewed violence in the eastern part of the country, prompting the EU to postpone Russia sanctions ahead of the Minsk summit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived at the White House on Monday to meet with US President Barrack Obama around the issue of whether to arm the Ukrainian government against Russian separatists.
In economic data, Germany’s trade surplus widened more than forecast in December, capping off a record year for international trade and signaling that Europe’s largest economy was improving. Germany’s trade surplus reached €217 billion in 2014, shattering the previous record of €195.3 billion. The country posted a surplus of €21.8 billion in December, up from €18.3 billion in November and compared with the consensus forecast of €17.9 billion. Exports rose 3.4 percent, while imports declined 0.8 percent from November, official data showed. Economists forecast exports to rise only 1 percent in December.