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SNB Resisted Major Interventions as Franc Strengthened

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The Swiss National Bank appears to have resisted taking dramatic action in the past week to curb the franc’s appreciation to the strongest in almost three years.

Sight deposits at the SNB, considered an early indicator of activity, increased about 1.3 billion francs ($1.3 billion) to 585.9 billion francs in the week ending Jan. 17. That’s a gain of 0.2%, and analysts said it suggests no intervention.

The figures come as the franc pushes higher against the euro, something the Swiss central bank has been battling against for a decade. The currency rallied 0.7% last week after the U.S. Treasury added Switzerland back onto its currency watch list.

Yet the sight deposit data suggest the SNB didn’t do much to counter the rally, with Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) economist Maxime Botteron considering the figures in line with seasonal fluctuations. A spokeswoman for the SNB declined to comment on the data.

The SNB has used interventions on-and-off for years, and the franc’s recent appreciation had raised speculation it might have done so again recently. To help control the currency, which investors typically buy at times of market stress, the SNB also has a deposit rate at a record low of -0.75%.

Just days after the U.S. decision to monitor Switzerland, Alternate SNB Governing Board Member Martin Schlegel stressed that if policy needs to be eased, there’s room to expand the balance sheet.

Swiss central bank officials don’t usually comment on intervention and they they publish statistics once a year.

According to St. Galler Kantonalbank Chief Investment Officer Thomas Stucki, the SNB will continue to selectively intervene. An average franc appreciation of 1.5%-2% annually is manageable for the country, he said.

“Our base case is that the pace of franc strength wears off -- but in the event of a deteriorating euro-zone outlook the franc appreciation drift could resume,” said Christin Tuxen, Danske Bank’s head of currency research.

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Forex - Dollar Calm; Retains Strength Against Main Rivals

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The U.S. dollar was largely flat in European trading Monday, with the U.S. holiday providing little incentive for traders to take risks. That said, the greenback still looks strong against its main competitors.

At 03:35 ET (0835 GMT), the Dollar Index Futures, which tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies, was essentially flat at 97.40. USD/JPY traded flat at 110.15, EUR/USD at 1.1095, up 0.1%, and GBP/USD at 1.2979, down 0.2%.

Figures released by the Commerce Department on Friday showed U.S. housing starts in December were well above economists' estimates for 1.38 million and were the biggest gain in 13 years.

Retail sales were also on the rise and a gauge of manufacturing activity rebounded to its highest in eight months.

The positive data reduced chances that the Federal Reserve would slash rates when it meets later this month.

The European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan are also not expected to make any changes in their first policy meetings of the year this week, but the Bank of England is widely expected to cut rates in the near future.

The dollar story is staying firm in the G3 space, analysts Chris Turner, Petr Krpata and Francesco Pesole at ING, said in a research note. “Talk of a Republican Tax Cut 2.0 may cement that trend – at least in the G3 space. US macro weakness looks less of a concern now, but the market will soon turn to U.S. election risks – especially were (Elizabeth) Warren or (Bernie) Sanders to win the Democratic nomination.”

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FOREX-Dollar firm on strong U.S. data, outlook hopes hoist yuan to 6-month high

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The dollar began the week on a firm note on Monday as economic data pointed to strength right across the U.S. economy, while optimism on the outlook for China supported Asian currencies.

The greenback held steady near a one-week high against the euro EUR= , at $1.1095, and just below an eight-month peak on the Japanese yen, at 110.17 yen per dollar JPY= . Against a basket of currencies it was flat .DXY .

China's yuan edged 0.2% higher to a fresh six-month top, while the Australian and New Zealand dollars also edged ahead.

Moves were slight and volumes thin as Chinese New Year approaches in Asia and with U.S markets closed for Martin Luther King day on Monday.

Figures on Friday showed U.S. homebuilding surged to a 13-year high in December, with retail sales also on the rise and a gauge of manufacturing activity rebounding to its highest in eight months. pricing suggests nobody thinks the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut rates when it meets at the end of the month.The strength in the United States comes as European economic data points in the opposite direction, though with possible signs of bottoming out both there and in China.

"We're seeing consistently strong data, still, from the United States, and that's on the back of a boost that it will probably get from this U.S.-China trade agreement," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at broker OANDA.

"I think the U.S. dollar will continue to outperform against the major currencies," he said, adding he counted the chance of a Fed rate cut soon at zero. "I think the bar for a rate cut is quite high at the moment."

China on Friday posted its slowest annual growth figure in almost 30 years, although December data showed revived business confidence and quickening factory output. helped the yuan to a six-month high of 6.8457 per dollar CNY= after the country's benchmark lending rate was held steady on Monday, leading gains across Asia. CNY/

The Australian AUD=D3 and New Zealand dollars NZD=D3 rose about 0.2%, with emerging markets currencies also nudging ahead. EMRG/FRX AUD/

"They are catching a big tailwind from this trade deal," said Halley. "It does imply better times ahead on the resource side and that's why we're seeing some strength in the Aussie."

However caution remained as investors look to Australian jobs data due on Thursday for a crucial clue to the next move for Australian interest rates.

The Reserve Bank of Australia meets next month with widespread bushfires, and their depressing effect on already weak consumer sentiment, adding to the case for further stimulus following three rate cuts last year.

Futures are pricing a 46% chance of a rate cut when the RBA meets on Feb. 4, but that will likely shift higher if Thursday's read on unemployment puts it higher than market expectations of 5.2%. 0#YIB

Similarly, the British pound GBP= sat at a week-low of $1.3000, with markets apprehensive that the Bank of England may cut rates at the month's end - especially if business surveys this week seem sour.

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India desperately needs investment: Jyotiraditya Scindia on Piyush Goyal's remarks

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Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia termed as "unfortunate" Union minister Piyush Goyal's 'Amazon not doing any favour' remarks, and said such statements would do no good to the country as it desperately needs investments to come out of the "worrisome" economic condition.

He also said that there was a need to attract foreign investment as Indian businessmen's capacity to invest has exhausted.

"An investor as well as the country where the money is invested, both get profited...I think any comment that brings down the investment is not appropriate. It is unfortunate for us," Scindia told reporters here.

"The country desperately needs investment. Countries across the globe give a red carpet reception to investors, but in our country if such a statement is made, then it won't encourage investment," he said in response to a query about Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal's statement regarding Amazon's investment into India.

"Indian businessmen's capacity to invest has exhausted. So there is a need to attract investment...Such statements won't do any good to the nation," the Congress general secretary added.

He also called for all-out efforts to accelerate the country's growth rate, to attract investment, to check inflation and to end unemployment.

"The country's condition is worrisome on these four counts right now. It seems this kind of situation did not exist in the last 25-30 years," Scindia, who was Minister of State for Commerce and Industry during the UPA-II, added.

Piyush Goyal had on Thursday said that e-commerce giant Amazon was not doing a favour to the country by investing a billion dollars and also questioned how the online retailing major could incur such "big" losses but for its predatory pricing.

He had also said that e-commerce companies have to follow Indian rules in letter and spirit and not find loopholes to make a back-door entry into multi-brand retail segment.

However, a day later, the minister had said in Ahmedabad that the country welcomes all kinds of investments that follow the "letter and spirit" of the law. He also said that some people had misconstrued his remarks by suggesting that he had said something negative about Amazon.

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