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15.03.2011 12:09

EU session review: Yen rises as Japan's radiation leak risk spurs repatriation

Data released
06:30     France     CPI (February) unadjusted    0.5%    0.5%    -0.2%
06:30     France     CPI (February) unadjusted Y/Y    1.7%    1.7%    1.8%
06:30     France     HICP (February) Y/Y         1.9%    1.9%
10:00     Germany     ZEW economic expectations index (March)    14.1    15.5    15.7

The yen rose against most of its major counterparts as increased risk in Japan of radiation leaks from a crippled nuclear power station boosted speculation investors there will bring home overseas assets.
The dollar and Swiss franc advanced on demand for a refuge as Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said his government is doing everything it can to contain the radioactive leak at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant following last week’s earthquake and tsunami.
The euro remained lower versus the dollar as German investor confidence unexpectedly fell. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research said its index of German investor and analyst expectations dropped to 14.1 this month from 15.7 in February. Economists had expected a gain to 15.9.
“Sentiment, not only for Japan but for the whole of Asia, is weak at this stage,” said Daisuke Uno, chief strategist in Tokyo at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.
Japan’s stricken Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant was rocked by two further explosions and a fire today as workers struggled to avert the risk of a meltdown.
A hydrogen blast hit the plant’s No. 4 reactor, where Tokyo Electric Power Co. earlier reported a blaze, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a briefing. Four of the complex’s six reactors have been damaged by explosions after cooling systems failed when they were wrecked by the magnitude 9 earthquake and deadly tsunami.
“Foreign investors are very sensitive to the nuclear issue,” said Kengo Suzuki, a currency analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. “People are buying the dollar as a safe haven and may seek a refuge in the Swiss franc too.”
Further gains in the yen may be limited as the Bank of Japan pumps more money into financial markets, according to analysts at BNP Paribas SA.
The BOJ added 5 trillion yen to the financial system in a one-day operation today. BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa has pledged to keep pouring cash into the economy to stabilize markets. The bank injected 15 trillion yen ($6 billion) yesterday and doubled its asset-purchase program to 10 trillion yen, an increase that’s about one-tenth the size of the Fed’s program of buying Treasuries.

EUR/USD fell from $1.3950 to $1.3852 before recovered to $1.3895. rate failed to break above $1.3900 again and retreated to current $1.3875.

GBP/USD fell from $1.6135 to $1.5972. Currently rate holds around $1.6010.

USD/JPY held within the Y81.20/Y82/00 range before eased further to Y81.15.

At 1230GMT the Empire State Index is scheduled to release and expected to increase to a reading of 16.0 in March after also rising in February.
At 1300GMT the latest Treasury International Capital System (TICS) data come.
The decision and statement from the latest FOMC meeting is due at 1815GMT.
Federal Reserve policy makers are almost certain to fulfill their plan to buy $600 billion in Treasuries, a survey of economists shows. How they finish the purchases and what they do next is a matter of disagreement as the Fed meets today.
“We only need some hawkish news out of the U.S., or some positive sentiment, for the dollar to turn around,” said Matthew Brady at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Sydney. “In the medium term, I am positive for the U.S. dollar.”

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