Currencies: European Finance Ministers Attempt to Shrug Off Danes' Rejection of Euro - TheStreet

With the full count in Denmark's referendum coming in at 53% against membership in the euro-zone and only 47% in favor, the single currency has taken a serious public relations blow.

European finance ministers are quickly stepping up to say that nothing of importance has happened and the outlook for the euro is better than ever. "Denmark is a country which we fully respect, of course, but at the same time, one is bound to recognize that the size of the Danish economy represents 2% of the overall zone," said French Finance Minister

Laurent Fabius

in Brussels.

European Central Bank

President

Wim Duisenburg

was even less gracious in the face of a decision that can only be seen as a black eye for the zone and for the ECB. "The Danish people have chosen to deprive themselves of benefits in the form of an increase in the rate of growth and the welfare of the economy that would have otherwise taken place and that is already taking place within the euro area," he said at a press conference.

The euro has slipped as much as 1% from yesterday's levels and is opening in New York at $0.8770, compared with Thursday's close at $0.8785.

Reaction to the Danish vote in both the U.K. and Sweden -- two countries looking at the merits of joining the euro-zone -- has been negative. Their interest in membership will likely be put on hold for the time being. Many commentators see the inevitable emergence of a "two-speed" Europe, with euro-zone members moving rapidly toward greater integration, and nonmembers -- Denmark, the U.K. and Sweden -- moving much more slowly. In addition, several Eastern European nations comprise a third group actively working toward membership. These countries have few doubts over the benefits of joining the club.

Analysts expect the result in Denmark to put pressure on the euro. "The referendum result is obviously negative for sentiment," said James Shugg at

WestPac Bank

in London. "What's been keeping it up is the fear of some more intervention," he added.

The

Danish central bank

hiked its rates by half a point today, in an attempt to support its currency.

Dollar/yen has moved higher overnight and is opening at 108.25. While there is some pressure on the euro, there has been similar pressure on the yen. As a result, the euro/yen cross is actually firmer at 94.90 yen.

Sterling is slightly firmer around $1.4685, with the euro weaker vs. the pound at 59.70. Consumer credit growth in August fell to its lowest level since 1995, further indication that economic growth may be slowing.

Dollar/Swiss franc is again firmer at SF1.7380. The euro is steady vs. the Swiss franc at SF1.5245.

The Canadian dollar has slipped further to trade at C$1.5040. The forex market is now doubtful that the Canadian economy can maintain its strong growth of the past few months.

The Australian dollar has fallen sharply once again. After closing at $0.5455, the Aussie is opening around $0.5410. The market was disappointed by the latest trade deficit, which showed a substantial increase in August. Shugg sees the likelihood of a further interest-rate hike. "A rate rise will put Aussie rates level with the U.S. and make it harder to sell the Australian dollar," he said.

The New Zealand dollar is also well down at $0.4065.