By Patrick Graham and Jemima Kelly
LONDON (Reuters) - The dollar's worldwide surge on higher U.S. interest rates has dragged the euro below $1.04 <EUR=>, removing the last big chart-based hurdle to a return to parity for the first time since the single currency was launched in physical form in 2002.
As the attached graphic shows, the euro has lost more than 7 percent against the dollar in the last three months, 25 percent since May 2014, and 35 percent from all-time peaks hit before the financial crisis in 2008.
(For the graphic on the history of euro click http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/1/1549/1549/EURPARITY.png )
That is largely the result of a yawning gap in interest rates on either side of the Atlantic which reflects the contrasting economic fortunes of the world's two biggest developed regions since 2008.
Worried by poor growth, the European Central Bank has been playing for a weaker currency with further rounds of money-printing at a time when its U.S. equivalent has begun to raise interest rates and suck dollars out of the system.
Having benefited from swift moves to recapitalise banks in 2008, the gains against the single currency are also the latest arm of a surge in the dollar which could crimp any recovery in U.S. exports on global markets.
The fall in the currency's value helps European producers but reduces the purchasing power of euro zone consumers while increasing the cost of dollar-priced goods and vital commodities like oil, iron and steel.
Regulators also worry further dollar strength may destabilize the global financial system and some of the large emerging economies where companies have borrowed heavily in dollars.
A number of large banks and asset managers have forecast a move past parity, but only 10 of more than 50 economists in Reuters latest polling predicted a fall below 1 euro per dollar - a reflection both of the speed of moves since Donald Trump's election and doubts over whether parity will be achieved.
(Editing by Catherine Evans)