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Swiss central bank leaves key rates unchanged

Switzerland's central bank on Thursday kept its key interest rate unchanged and restated its longstanding pledge to prevent the Swiss franc from gaining too much value. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) held its target range for the franc's three-month London interbank offered rate, known as the Libor rate, at between 0.0 and 0.25 percent, a bank spokesman said in a conference call with journalists. The bank also reiterated that it was maintaining an exchange-rate floor of 1.20 francs to the euro.

SNB to keep franc cap, may never need to exit it at all

By Alice Baghdjian ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss National Bank is not expected to lift its lid on the Swiss franc until at least 2015, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday, with some economists suggesting the central bank may never need to officially exit the currency cap at all. The SNB imposed a ceiling on the Swiss franc at 1.20 per euro in September 2011 to fend off deflation and a recession, after investors fleeing the euro zone crisis bid the safe-haven currency up to record levels in a matter of months.

German court confirms euro zone bailout scheme is legal

By Michelle Martin and Ilona Wissenbach KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) - Germany's Constitutional Court upheld the legality of the euro zone's bailout fund on Tuesday, affirming a preliminary ruling during the debt crisis in 2012 that gave a green light to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The court reiterated that the 700 billion euro ($975 billion) fund did not violate the rights of Germany's Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, to decide budgetary matters as long as it had sufficient oversight powers over the ESM.

Crimea will drop Ukrainian hryvnia as of April: RIA

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Crimea is adopting the Russian ruble as its official currency and will drop the Ukrainian hryvnia in April, Russian news agency RIA quoted a senior official in the government of the region, which has voted to become part of Russia, as saying. Crimean authorities had earlier said the hryvnia would to remain an official currency until 2016.

Crimea assembly declares Russian ruble second official currency

Crimea's separatist parliament on Monday introduced the Russian ruble as a second official currency alongside the Ukrainian hryvnia, after declaring independence following a referendum to break with Ukraine and join Russia. The parliament said in a statement that the hryvnia could continue to be used in Crimea until January 1, 2016. bur-dt/ssw/ec

U.S. retail sales rise a bit more than expected in February

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales rose slightly more than expected in February, pointing to some strength in the economy after harsh weather abruptly slowed activity in recent months. The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales increased 0.3 percent last month as receipts rose in most categories. That followed a revised 0.6 percent drop in January and ended two straight months of declines.

Euro hits 17-month high vs dollar

The euro jumped to its highest level against the dollar in 17 months Wednesday, topping the $1.39 level as traders voted more confidence in the eurozone. Analysts said that although eurozone industrial production dropped 0.2 percent in January from December, the pace marked an improvement and it was consistent with an economy picking up pace. At 2100 GMT the euro was at $1.3904, compared with $1.3863 late Tuesday. During trade it hit $1.3915, matching the 17-month peak reached last Friday.

Yen rises after Bank of Japan avoids more easing

The Japanese yen Tuesday advanced against the dollar and the euro after the Bank of Japan decided not to undertake fresh easing measures. At 2100 GMT, the dollar bought 102.94 yen, down from 103.26 Monday. The euro traded at 142.73 yen compared with 143.28. The euro slipped to $1.3863 from $1.3875. BOJ officials said the economy was picking up and that the bank's targets for inflation looked achievable, despite slowing growth in the last quarter of 2013.

Dollar, euro hold steady amid Ukraine worries

The dollar traded virtually unchanged against the euro and yen Monday amid fresh worries about the Japanese and Chinese economies and ongoing tensions in Ukraine. At 2100 GMT the euro was at $1.3875, compared to $1.3874 late Friday. The dollar bought 103.26 yen, barely up from 103.24, while the euro was at 143.28 yen, compared to 143.31 yen Friday. The greenback was flat against the Swiss franc. at 0.8777 franc per dollar. Only the British pound among majors changed much: falling to $1.6642 from $1.6711 against the greenback.

EU aims for deal on tackling failing banks next week

By Jan Strupczewski and Martin Santa BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union governments and parliamentarians will try to reach a compromise this week on how to wind down failing banks, in marathon talks intended to settle who decides to close banks and who picks up the bill. A deal in the negotiations, set to span three days, would be the final step in a European banking union that would mean one supervisor for all euro zone banks, one set of rules to close or restructure those in trouble and one common pot of money to pay for it.
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