Euro to strengthen further in 2014, EU says

Reuters

* Euro to gain 5.8 pct in 2013, 0.9 pct in 2014 -EU exec

* Italy, France concerned about risk to growth, exports

BRUSSELS, Nov 5 (Reuters) - The euro will appreciate at arecord pace this year and continue to gain in 2014, the EuropeanCommission said on Tuesday, potentially complicating the eurozone's export-based recovery.

The Commission sees the 18-nation single currency, which hita two-year high against the U.S. dollar last month gaining 5.8percent against a dollar-denominated basket of industrialisedeconomies this year and 0.9 percent next year.

Such a rise would outstrip the jump in the euro's value in2009, before the bloc's sovereign debt crisis caused thecurrency's value to plummet. It would be a greater appreciationthan the averages notched up since its inception in 1999.

A sharply stronger euro, which has risen more than 5 percentagainst the U.S. dollar in the last four months, makes the eurozone's exports more expensive and could dampen the bloc'srecovery from its long recession.

Italy's finance minister has called on the European CentralBank to cut interest rates to a new record low to try to reversethe euro's rise.

A majority of euro money market traders polled by Reuters onMonday expect the central bank to keep its main refinancing rateunchanged at its meeting on Thursday.

However, ECB president Mario Draghi is to signal a readinessto ease policy further, after annual inflation in the euro zonefell to 0.7 percent in October, its lowest level in almost fouryears and well below the bank's target of just below 2 percent.

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