Dollar bulls got an early holiday gift with the surge in the value of the U.S. greenback. They can tender their gratitude to signs of a rebound in the U.S. economy and even to Congress, whose last-minute deal to extend tax cuts helped out a bit.

Perhaps the biggest vote of thanks is owed to the European Union, however. Without the fiscal troubles of Greece and Ireland weakening the group's common currency and even calling into question its very survival, the euro may well have offered a more tempting alternative to traders, speculators and investors wary of the impact of the Federal Reserve's $600 billion quantitative easing plan.

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