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Forex: Yen Rallies on Virus Fears; German Ifo Eyed

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 The Japanese yen is in demand Monday as traders flock to the safe haven currency amid concerns over the spread of the pneumonia-like virus in China.

At 03:20 ET (0820 GMT), the USD/JPY dropped 0.2% to 109.08, having fallen as low at 108.73 overnight, the lowest level since Jan. 8. The US Dollar Index Futures, which tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies, was largely flat at 97.68.

The Chinese government extended the week-long new year holiday by three days at the weekend, giving more time for screening and other countermeasures to take effect, but signalling a bigger-than-expected near-term hit to both retail sales and industrial output.

Nearly 2,000 people in China had been infected and 56 killed by the disease, Chinese authorities said Sunday, although reports state that the death toll has since increased to 80.

"According to recent clinical information, the virus's ability to spread seems to be getting somewhat stronger," China's National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said at a press briefing Sunday, adding that it is infectious in its incubation period, i.e. before symptoms show, making it harder to contain.

The virus apart, markets are bracing for policy meetings later this week at the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.

“We doubt the Fed will have too much impact on USD/JPY this week,” ING analysts said in a research note, adding that Japanese data this week includes updates on Tokyo CPI, Employment, Industrial Production and Retail Sales.

“At its recent meeting, the Bank of Japan modestly upgraded growth and downgraded its inflation forecasts to leave its complicated monetary policy unchanged. It is hard to see BoJ policy having much impact on the JPY this year,” ING added.

Sterling, the euro, and the dollar were subdued. The Federal Reserve's rate-setting meeting ends on Wednesday while the Bank of England meets on Thursday.

At 03:25 AM ET (0825 GMT), EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1031 ahead of the German Ifo business survey and French labor market data, while GBP/USD was flat at 1.3075.


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Yuan hits three-week low, yen rises as China grapples with virus outbreak

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The yuan fell in offshore trade on Monday to its lowest level in three weeks as the death toll in China from the spread of a new coronavirus mounted, raising worries authorities are struggling to contain the outbreak and sparking a bout of risk aversion.

Japan's currency, often sought as a safe-haven in times of uncertainty, initially jumped versus the dollar to the highest since Jan. 8 before erasing some of those gains as investors gauged public health officials' response to the virus.

China's cabinet announced it will extend the Lunar New Year holidays to Feb. 2 to strengthen the prevention and control of the new coronavirus, state broadcaster CCTV reported early on Monday. The holidays had been due to end on Jan. 30.

Hong Kong has also banned the entry of visitors from China's Hubei province, where coronavirus outbreak was first reported in the city of Wuhan, underscoring the difficulty officials face during a peak travel season.

Health authorities around the world are racing to prevent a pandemic of the virus, which has infected more than 2,000 people in China and killed 80.

There are concerns that tourism and consumer spending could take a hit if the virus spreads further, which would discourage investors from taking on excessive risk.

"There is a lot of uncertainty about how much further the virus will spread, and this is behind the moves in currencies," said Yukio Ishizuki, foreign exchange strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

"I thought dollar/yen would be supported at 109, but it broke through that, so now the next target is 108.50. This risk-off mood is likely to continue for a while."

In the offshore market, the yuan was under persistent pressure and slumped to 6.9776 per dollar, the weakest since Jan. 6.

The yen rose to 108.73 per dollar, its strongest level since Jan. 8, before paring gains to trade up 0.16% at 109.09.

Japan's currency also jumped more than 0.5% versus the Australian (AUDJPY=) and New Zealand dollars (NZDJPY=) as worries about the virus drew traders toward safe-haven currencies.

The dollar index (DXY) against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 97.881.

Traders said market moves could be exaggerated due to low liquidity, because financial markets in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia are closed for holidays.

The virus, which emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has spread to other countries, including Singapore, South Korea, Canada, Japan, and the United States.

China's National Health Commision confirmed 80 deaths from the coronavirus and 2,744 cases as of end of Sunday.

Big businesses across China are temporarily shutting stores or advising staff to work from home. Companies are also offering longer holidays, cancelling events, and imposing quarantine.

Singapore's government said on Monday the virus will hurt its already wobbly economy, and is considering tax breaks for the tourism sector and other firms.

The outbreak has evoked memories of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003, another coronavirus which broke out in China and killed nearly 800 people in a global pandemic.

Sterling, the euro, and the dollar were subdued as traders awaited the release of economic data and two central bank meetings.

The pound was little changed at $1.3060 on the dollar, and 84.46 pence per euro (EURGBP=D3).

The Bank of England is closer to cutting interest rates this week than at any time in the last three years when it announces its policy decision on Jan. 30.

Growth at end of 2019 slowed to its weakest since 2012, prompting BOE Governor Mark Carney and two other policymakers to speak publicly about the possibility of a rate cut.

However, monetary easing is far from certain because other data have shown a pick up in business and consumer sentiment.

The dollar was quoted at $1.1028 per euro (EUR=EBS), little changed on the day but close to its strongest since December.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to keep policy on hold at a meeting ending Jan. 29. Data on the U.S. housing market, durable goods, and consumer confidence will be released before the Fed's decision.

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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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Currencies mark time before trade deal; UK data eyed

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Major currencies were closeted within tight ranges on Wednesday as investors awaited the signing of a U.S.-China trade deal, with the greenback holding above a one-week low against its rivals.

Though the formal agreement, due in early U.S. hours, is aimed at drawing a line under 18 months of tit-for-tat tariff hikes that have hurt global growth, it will not end the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.

"I don't think the market is fully convinced about a closure on the trade conflict front as the issue has caused a lot of damage to the world economy," said Neil Mellor, a senior FX strategist at BNY Mellon in London.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said existing tariffs on Chinese goods would stay, pending further talks.

Against a basket of its rivals (DXY), the dollar was steady at 97.4, just shy of a one-week low of 97.29. The Chinese currency in the offshore market was broadly steady.

The Australian dollar , a relatively volatile barometer of trade tensions, was a shade weaker at $0.6893.

U.S. President Donald Trump is slated to sign the Phase 1 trade agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House at 1630 GMT.

Washington has already agreed to suspend tariffs on $160 billion of some Chinese-made electronics, and to halve existing tariffs on $120 billion of other goods to 7.5%.

But it will leave in place 25% tariffs on a vast, $250 billion array of Chinese industrial goods and components used by U.S. manufacturers.

A source told Reuters that China has pledged to buy almost $80 billion of additional manufactured goods from the United States over the next two years under the deal, although some U.S. trade experts called that unrealistic.

Elsewhere, the British pound was broadly steady at $1.3014 after sustaining some losses in recent sessions thanks to a chorus of dovish comments from central bank policymakers.

The only major data in the European session is U.K. price data due at 0930 GMT where inflation is expected to grow 1.5% in December from a year-ago period.

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Forex - Markets Calm; Sterling Awaits Inflation Data

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 A tone of caution prevails in the foreign exchange markets Wednesday, ahead of the signing of the much-awaited trade deal between U.S. and China.

At 03:25 ET (0825 GMT), the safe-haven yen was slightly firmer against the U.S. dollar, with USD/JPY trading at 109.91, down 0.1%, while the euro was marginally lower against the dollar, with EUR/USD at $1.1120, down less than 0.1%. A preliminary reading of 2019 German GDP due at 4 AM ET (0900 GMT) may have some impact on that pair.

The formal agreement is aimed at drawing a line under 18 months of tit-for-tat tariff hikes that have hurt global growth, but it will not end the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies. This was made clear overnight when U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said existing tariffs on Chinese goods would stay, pending further talks.

Elsewhere,sterling has climbed back above the $1.30 level, helped by comments from Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said late Tuesday that he considers “very likely” the U.K. will get a “comprehensive trade deal with the EU by year-end.”

It’s debatable how long this pair can remain above this level given the recent comments from a number of members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, suggesting the bank may be edging towards a rate cut.

In a speech earlier, Bank of England policymaker Michael Saunders repeated his support for a rate cut to support an economy weakened by Brexit and other uncertainties.

"It probably will be appropriate to maintain an expansionary monetary policy stance and possibly to cut rates further, in order to reduce risks of a sustained undershoot of the 2% inflation target," Reuters quoted Saunders as saying.

"With limited monetary policy space, risk management considerations favor a relatively prompt and aggressive response to downside risks at present."

“News that the BoE is turning a little more dovish, plus no signs of a serious U.S. slow-down, suggests GBP/USD may be spending more time at the lower end of its 1.29-1.35 trading range, “ according to an ING research note.

The release of inflation data later Wednesday, at 04:30 ET (0930 GMT), could have some impact. The headline CPI inflation is expected to arrive at +0.2% on the month in December while the annualized figure is seen steady at +1.5%.

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Weak German Industrial Production Leaves Pound Euro (GBP/EUR) Exchange Rate Flat

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Pound Sterling Euro (GBP/EUR) Exchange Rate Muted as German Industrial Production Stumbles

The Pound Sterling Euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate remained largely flat on Friday, giving up some previous losses. The pairing is currently trading at around €1.1830.

The single currency remained under pressure as data revealed the slump in German factory output could drag on the wider economy.Industrial production in the bloc’s largest economy disappointed at the start of the fourth quarter. Month-on-month, production plummeted by -1.7% after September’s fall of -0.6%.

‘Today’s data suggests that the German economy is continuing to flirt with stagnation and contraction in the final quarter of the year.

‘Looking ahead, both soft and hard indicators bode ill for industrial activity in the months ahead […] Trade conflicts, global uncertainty and disruption in the automotive industry have put the entire German industry in a headlock, from which it is hard to escape.’

Sterling (GBP) Edges Lower After Three-Day Rally

On Friday, after a three-day rally, the Pound edged lower against a handful of currencies.

While the currency edged lower at the end of the week, GBP was still headed for its best week since mid-October.

The Pound Euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate hit a two-and-a-half year high on Thursday as Brexit optimism sparked a rally.

This week opinion polls have revealed support for the Conservatives has grown, increasing the likelihood the party will win an outright majority in next week’s election.

If Boris Johnson’s party secures a majority it will allow the PM to take the UK out of the EU by the January deadline.

‘It’s a small move and no fundamental change [in terms of what opinion polls show].

‘From a risk-reward perspective most people are too optimistic but if you look at option markets you can see some people positioning for Sterling weakness.’

Markets remained optimistic that a Tory win would see more than three years of Brexit uncertainty come to an end.

However, even if the Conservatives win a majority, some analysts have argued that any further GBP gains will be limited.

Pound Euro Outlook: Will Election Optimism Buoy GBP?

Looking ahead to next week, the Pound (GBP) could edge higher against the Euro (EUR) if there are further polls suggesting the Conservatives will win Thursday’s election.

If markets continue to remain optimistic that Boris Johnson will secure a majority, Sterling sentiment will increase.

Meanwhile, the single currency could slide if Germany’s trade balance disappoints, and October’s exports slump.

If both imports and exports fall in October, the Pound Euro (GBP/EUR) exchanger rate could edge higher.


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Gold Prices Fall as Uncertainty Over Sino-U.S. Trade Progress Continues

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 Prices of the safe-haven gold fell on Friday in Asia as traders continued to monitor Sino-U.S. trade news.


The U.S. Gold Futures fell 0.4% to $1,477.45 by 1:42 AM ET (05:42 GMT).

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said trade talks were "moving right along", pushing global equities higher.

Uncertainties over a deal remained, as the president’s comments this week sent mixed signals regarding the trade talk progress.

Trump said overnight that negotiations with China are going "very well” overnight, just one day after he dented hopes for a trade deal by saying that an agreement to end the trade dispute may have to be delayed until after the American presidential election in November 2020.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that negotiations between Washington and Beijing were progressing, without a deadline for conclusion.

On the data front, the latest U.S. job report due later in the day is expected to generate some attention.

Gold traders are also awaiting the upcoming U.S. Federal Reserve meeting...


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U.S. dollar Unchanged Ahead of Job Report

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The U.S. dollar was unchanged on Friday in Asia as traders awaited the release of the latest U.S. job report, which is due at 8:30 AM ET (13:30 GMT).

The U.S. dollar index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies was unchanged at 97.380 by 1:30 AM ET (05:30 GMT).

Analysts tracked by Investing.com expect the job report to show the economy added 186,000 jobs in November, up from 128,000 jobs in October and 155,00 jobs in November 2018. The unemployment rate is projected to hold steady at 3.6%, unchanged from October and down slightly from December 2018.

Traders also kept an eye out for the latest development on the Sino-U.S. trade front as U.S. President Donald Trump said "something could happen" on whether the Washington will impose new tariffs on Chinese goods starting Dec. 15.

Trump said on Thursday that negotiations with China are going "very well," just one day after he said an agreement to end the trade dispute may have to be delayed until after the American presidential election in November 2020.

The USD/CNY pair traded 0.1% lower to 7.0417.

The EUR/USD pair was little changed at 1.1102 as data on Thursday showed that German factory orders unexpectedly declined in October.

The GBP/USD pair was also near flat at 1.3156. Reports this week suggested that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson could win a majority at next week's election, paving the way for Britain to leave the European Union on Jan. 31.

The USD/JPY pair slipped 0.1% to 108.68.

Meanwhile, the AUD/USD pair and the NZD/USD pair both gained 0.2%.

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