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Former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan stressed the eurozone is not functioning, saying insufficient balances in the economic stability of EU member countries make the current duty of the single currency a major area of concern.

Greenspan emphasized the great difference among European Union states, with the EU's more wealthier states including Germany regularly financing the shortages of southern countries.

The ex-central bank head, who has been critical about the bloc, said this divergence should not persist. He mentioned the European Central Bank is grappling with greater challenges than the Fed, noting the ECB's balance sheet is bigger than ever.

He also expressed his apprehension regarding the euro's prospect.

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The euro remained near two-week highs versus majority of its rivals on Thursday, on increasing bets the European Central Bank may announce it will taper its stimulus program by year-end as early as next week at the end of its policy meeting.

The central bank's chief economist Peter Praet, a close ally of President Mario Draghi, said the ECB would debate next week whether to stop bond purchases later this year.

Jens Weidmann, the head of Germany's central bank, said bets that the ECB would taper its bond-purchasing program by the end of this year was likely while his Dutch counterpart Klaas Knot said there was no reason to extend a quantitative easing program.

The hawkish comments boosted the euro, hitting a two-week high of $1.17955 on Wednesday. The common currency last traded at $1.1781, adding to weekly gains amounting to 1 percent.

The ECB has been weighing whether to finish the 2.55 trillion euro bond purchase program this year as the risk of deflation has passed.

The euro firmed against other currencies, reaching a two-week high of 1.640 Swiss franc and 129.83 yen.

Meanwhile, the dollar continued its recovery from a five-week trough of 108.`115 yen hit on May 29 and last traded at 110.15 yen, having reached a two-week high of 110.27 in late U.S. trade on Wednesday.

But persistent concerns regarding trade disputes could limit the dollar's strength versus the yen as U.S. President Donald Trump looks determined to clash with other Group of Seven leaders at their weekend summit.

The Australian dollar reached a one-and-a-half month high of 76.777 cents on Wednesday and last traded at 76.68 cents, partially propped-up by the nation's solid economic growth data released on Wednesday.

The European Central Bank will discuss next week whether to halt bond purchases later this 2018, the bank's top economist Peter Praet said on Wednesday, a hawkish rhetoric perceived preparing investors for another rollback in stimulus.

After stoking growth with a massive 2.55 trillion euro bond-buying programme, ECB policy makers must make a decision on the timetable of the quantitative easing scheme as the threat of deflation is long eliminated and the bloc is headed for its best growth streak in a decade.

While ECB policymakers broadly agree that the bond-buying scheme should end this year, ECB President has avoided any official debate on the topic of winding down the program, as he looks for more proof that inflation is on a sustained recovery.

However, comments from Peter Praete, a close ally of the ECB president, indicated that the central bank is encouraged by the increase in inflation, increasing the prospects that a decision may come sooner rather than later.

In his last remarks before ECB's next policy meeting, Praet said that the Governing Council will have to evaluate whether the progress so far has been enough to warrant a gradual unwinding of their bond purchases in their meeting next week.

Eurozone bond yields climbed and the euro touched a 10-day peak versus the dollar on the comments from Praet, perceived as one of the most dovish members of the Governing Council.

Several analysts perceived the comment as an indication that a decision is coming at the June 14 meeting. Others saw it as a kickstart to a debate that will likely reach its end and lead to a decision in July.

Tags: Policy

European equities ended marginally changed Wednesday, with trade mostly affected by concerns over fiscal spending in Italy.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended temporarily neutral with sectors and major bourses mixed.

Italy's FTSE MIB, which was under pressure, rebounded on Wednesday, increasing 0.26 percent. New Italian PM Minister Giuseppe Conte presented his coalition's plans to clampdown on immigration and up welfare spending while reducing taxes on Tuesday.

The media firm Schibsted was up by 4.5 percent after a rating upgrade. Meanwhile, WH Smith climbed to the top of the index, with shares rising by almost 7.5 percent after posting a 4 percent increase in sales in the 13-week to June 2. Growth in its travel business helped to counter a fall in high-street sales.

Overall market sentiment was affected by politics, but comments from central bankers also affected the market mood.

The ECB's Chief Economist Peter Praet said the European Central Bank will discuss next week how to wind down its 30 billion euro monthly-purchase program- the first step towards policy normalization.

Also, world trade continues to be a major agenda. On Tuesday, it was announced that U.S. legislators intend to introduce legislation that would prompt President Donald Trump to secure approval from Congress before levies on national security grounds can be put in place.