Euro debuts, opens at 1.17 per dollar

NEW YORK -- The euro officially entered the marketplace on Jan. 1, appearing strong at 1.17 to the dollar.

The new currency, which 11 European nations adopted, was expected to finish at 1.20 to the dollar before the first week of 1999 ends.

Experts agree that the value of the euro against the dollar will be volatile during the coming year, as currency traders test the sustainability of the initial excitement surrounding its debut. The national currencies of the euro countries are now denominations of the euro.

The euro-zone countries and their currencies' fixed value against the euro are:

  • Austria, 13.76 schillings
  • Belgium, 40.33 francs
  • Finland, 5.95 markkaa
  • France, 6.56 francs
  • Germany, 1.96 marks
  • Ireland, 0.79 punt
  • Italy, 1,936.27 lire
  • Luxembourg, 40.34 francs
  • Netherlands, 2.20 guilders
  • Portugal, 200.48 escudos
  • Spain, 166.39 pesetas
  • Euro notes and coins will not appear until Jan. 1, 2002, although payments in euros can now be made by credit/debit cards and traveler's checks.

    From Jan. 1 through July 1, 2002, both the national currencies and the euro will be in circulation; national currencies will cease to exist on July 2, 2002. Businesses in the euro zone can accept payment in national currencies, the euro or both until Jan. 1, 2002, when the acceptance of euros will be come mandatory.

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