(Recasts, new throughout; adds analyst quote; changes dateline, previous LONDON)
By Kate Duguid
NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Despite some optimism from Mario Draghi’s final news conference as president of the European Central Bank, the euro fell against the dollar on Thursday, pulled down by business surveys which point to stagnating economic momentum in the euro zone.
At its policy-making meeting Thursday, the ECB kept interest rates on hold and left its ultra-easy monetary policy unchanged. Weak growth across the euro zone notwithstanding, Draghi said the benefits of loose policy far outweighed the risks and rejected the suggestion that a public split with policy hawks in the bank had tainted his legacy.
Much of Thursday’s focus was on his decision to push through the open-ended bond-buying scheme that will tie his successor Christine Lagarde’s hands for years to come, despite opposition from a third of policymakers. Draghi played down the dissent, pointing out that all moves made in September were backed by majorities and were once again confirmed by the outcome of this month’s meeting.
Against the dollar, the euro had rallied after the ECB’s decision and press conference, but it quickly gave up those gains, weighed down by weak data releases. It was last 0.25% weaker at $1.110.
“We came into the morning thinking that there would be a bit more optimism than usual from Draghi as it is his last meeting, and we didn’t think he would want to end his tenure on a downbeat note,” said Thierry Wizman, global interest rates and currencies strategist at Macquarie Group.
“We detected some optimism towards the end of the press conference which is why the euro rallied at around 9 a.m. ET. And then it sold off. There was no news in the pipeline to help it stay up.”
Business weakness in the euro zone was reaffirmed on Thursday when IHS Markit’s flash composite purchasing managers’ index for October, seen as a good guide to economic health, came in below forecasts and perilously close to the line separating growth from contraction.
The U.S. dollar was stronger on the euro’s move, in spite of weak domestic data released Thursday morning. The dollar index was up 0.18% to 97.663.
New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods fell more than expected in September and shipments also declined, a sign that business investment remains weak amid the continuing fallout from the U.S.-China trade war.
However, another report on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to a tight jobs market even as hiring and economic growth has slowed. (Reporting by Kate Duguid in New York and Sujata Rao and Elizabeth Howcroft in London; Editing by Hugh Lawson)