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Euro drops to 20-year low, falling below a dollar

U.S. dollar worth more than euro
Americans traveling to Europe take advantage of exchange rate 02:59

The euro hit a 20-year low Monday after Russia said it would shut off its main gas pipeline to Europe over what it described as maintenance issues. 

The European Union currency dropped as much as 7% to 98.8 cents, reaching its lowest level since 2002. The euro was worth $1.19 when it launched on January 1, 1999, and peaked at $1.60 in 2008. Its record low came in October 2020 when it fell to 83 cents, as COVID-19 was slamming the global economy

On Friday, Russian state-owned Gazprom said it would switch off its Nord Stream 1 pipeline indefinitely, citing the need for repairs. The pipeline supplies much of Western Europe with natural gas, and experts warn that energy shortages will hurt Europe's economy and put more pressure on the euro. 

Russia accused of "energy blackmail" after unveiling plan to cut Europe's gas supply 04:07

"The U.S. economy is slowing, but it is doing so at a slower pace versus Europe, which is facing an energy crunch," Gregory Daco, chief economist at global strategy organization EY- Parthenon told CBS MoneyWatch. "In terms of the growth dynamic, growth is going to be faster in the U.S. Even though it will go into recession, I think the eurozone will be sharper." 

Inflation around the 19-country eurozone was 8.9% in July, more than quadruple the rate just a year ago. 

Nord Stream 1, which transports natural gas from Russia to Germany, have dropped significantly since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in February.

Capital Economics senior markets economist Jonathan Petersen thinks the euro will continue to fall against the dollar, predicting it could sink to as low as 90 cents by mid-2023 before gradually rebounding. 

"The indefinite closure of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline strengthens the 'stagflationary' headwinds facing eurozone economies and reinforces our view that the euro is likely to fall further against the U.S. dollar over the next 12 months or so," he said in a research note. 

Stagflation is when economic growth slumps, driving up unemployment, while inflation rises.

For Americans, the strong dollar makes it a good time to travel to Europe, with the exchange rate giving U.S. tourists greater purchasing power. 

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