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The yen rose against most of its major counterparts as a decline in Asian and European stocks boosted demand for assets perceived to be safer.
“There’s an element of risk aversion kicking in as we close the week; equities are looking a little fragile,” said Jeremy Stretch, executive director of foreign-exchange strategy at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in London. “If there is renewed uncertainty then the dollar, the yen and the Swiss franc will continue to be net beneficiaries.”
Japan’s yen fell to a two-week low against the dollar yesterday after Standard & Poor’s lowered the nation’s credit rating one step to AA-.
“The downgrade isn’t a major issue for the yen,” said Joseph Capurso, a currency strategist in Sydney at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the nation’s largest lender. “Virtually all Japanese government bonds are held in Japan so foreigners don’t hold much. If they did, there would be more implications for the currency.”
The dollar stayed near a two-month low versus the euro before a U.S. report today forecast to show economic growth accelerated last quarter. The pound declined after U.K. data showed consumer confidence slid the most in almost two decades as Prime Minister David Cameron reasserted his commitment to eliminating Britain’s budget deficit. The euro trimmed its third weekly gain versus the dollar, the longest winning streak since October.
The U.S. economy probably grew at a 3.5% annual pace in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from a 2.6% rate in the previous quarter. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy, increased at a 4% annual pace, the most since the last three months of 2006, a separate survey showed.
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