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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.

Related news

Eurozone concerns over the weakness of the dollar were laid bare in a set of European Central Bank minutes that emphasized fears the Trump administration was deliberately trying to engage in currency wars.

The account of the ECB's January monetary policy meeting also shows that its hawkish members pushed for a change in the bank's communications, arguing economic conditions were now resilient enough to drop a commitment to raise the quantitative easing programme in the event of a slowdown.

ECB president Mario Draghi called out US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin over his claim that a weak dollar was good for the American economy. Draghi said Washington needed to uphold the rules of the international monetary system, which forbid nations from deliberately devaluing their currencies.

Mnuchin's comments were seen as a signal that the US could ditch its strong dollar policy — which could lower eurozone exports and make it harder for the ECB to reach its inflation target.

The accounts of the ECB meeting on January 24-25, published on Thursday, reveal Draghi's fears were widely shared among the bank's decision makers. “Concerns were . . . expressed about recent statements in the international arena about exchange rate developments and, more broadly, the overall state of international relations," the account said. “The importance of adhering to agreed statements on the exchange rate was emphasised." Those agreements explicitly rule out competitive devaluations.

Sentiment among German businesses dropped in February, according to a closely watched survey that comes on the heels of other polls indicating enthusiasm is easing after hitting multi-year peaks.

The Munich-based Ifo economic institute said its business climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000 companies, declined to a 5-month low of 115.4 from 117.6 in January.

The drop in the German headline figure was mainly caused by managers scaling back their business expectations for the next six months, with the respective sub-index dropping to a 10-month low.

A sector breakdown of the Ifo figures revealed that the main impediment came from manufacturing, where the mood among managers had reached a record peak in January. Business sentiment also deteriorated in wholesaling, construction and retailing.

The Ifo data come a day after a survey of German purchasing managers also pointed to a decline in output growth expectations.

Ifo chief Clemens Fuest said firms were less satisfied with their current business situation, but the indicator remains at its second-highest level since 1991.

This upbeat growth outlook was also mirrored in the finance ministry's monthly report that was recently released which said recent data was pointing to a continuation of the economic upswing at the beginning of the year.

Germany is coming off of a year of strong economic expansion. Economists broadly expect the country to continue performing well in 2018, but some have questioned whether the rapid pace can hold.

European stocks finished just below the flat line on Thursday, as heightened expectations of faster interest rate hikes in the U.S. weighed down risk appetite globally.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.08 percent, with major bourses and sectors pointing in different directions.

The U.K. FTSE 100 was the worst performing major index, dropping 0.4 percent. This was an improvement on trade earlier in the afternoon, when it was more than one percent lower. The French CAC and German DAX were both close to the flat line.

Utilities outperformed by rising 1.45 percent. Centrica, which owns British Gas, topped the sector by gaining 7.5 percent. After announcing a decline in operating profit, it announced plans to cut 4,000 jobs in an attempt to save on costs.

Household goods was the worst performing sector, closing down 0.72 percent. Earlier in the afternoon it had been trading over 1.3 percent lower.

The basic resources sector bounced back in afternoon trade, closing just 0.04 percent in the negative territory.

Mining company Anglo American's stock had dropped to the bottom of the sector earlier after reporting its latest figures, a 45 percent growth in annual earnings last year as it continued to recover from the commodity markets crash in 2015 and 2016. Despite shares trading more than 2.5 percent lower at lunchtime, Anglo American's stock eventually pared its losses, closing 0.19 percent higher.

Barclays posted weaker-than-expected earnings. A below-forecast 10 percent growth in annual profit for 2017 was hit, in part, by the U.S. tax overhaul and a weaker dollar. However, its shares closed up 4.4 percent.

Denmark's Genmab jumped to the top of the benchmark after the company reassured investors about the sales growth of its blood cancer drug Darzalex. Shares of Europe's biggest biotechnology company closed 17.7 percent higher.


See also: Current support and resistance levels
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Feb 26 at 3:22 UTC

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