Euro falls on economic weakness, Cyprus mess

The euro tumbled Thursday against major currencies in the wake of weak eurozone economic data and uncertainty about Cyprus.

Around 2200 GMT, the euro was trading at $1.2902, down from $1.2937 late Wednesday.

The euro also gave ground to the Japanese yen, trading at 122.58 yen, down from 124.17.

The dollar was also lower against the yen, trading at 95.01 yen from Wednesday's level of 95.98 yen.

Private business activity across the eurozone hit a four-month low in March, according to an index published by London-based Markit. The report pointed to weakness in manufacturing, services and new business.

"The concern is that the downturn has gathered pace again," said Markit's chief economist Chris Williamson.

Analysts expressed special concern over fresh data from Germany that suggested the eurozone's strongest economy may be faltering.

Germany's composite PMI survey, which measures overall activity in the nation's private sector, fell to 51.0 in March from 53.3 in February, said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange.

"The data suggest that while German GDP will likely post positive growth in Q1, it will struggle to do so," Esiner said.

"Even the eurozone's largest economy and engine of broader growth is struggling to grow."

"What is disconcerting is that the cracks in Germany are beginning to show," said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management.

"The eurozone's largest economy is no longer able to provide umbrella support for the rest of the region and is now weakening alongside France, Italy and Spain."

The euro was also seeing downward pressure from the messy banking crisis in Cyprus.

The European Central Bank warned Thursday it would halt emergency funding for Cyprus unless the tiny island nation reaches a bailout deal by Monday.

A proposal in the Cyprus parliament would nationalize pension funds and impose capital controls to prevent a run on the banks when they reopen Tuesday. But lawmakers adjourned an emergency session late Thursday without voting on the legislation.

The British pound traded at $1.5171 late Thursday, up from $1.5103 Wednesday.

The dollar traded at 0.9467 Swiss francs, up from 0.9446 a day earlier.