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17.02.2011 13:17

EU session review: Yen gains as spreading Middle East unrest spurs demand for safest assets

Data released:
09:00     EU(16)     Current account (December) unadjusted, bln     -0.1    -    -5.4 (-6.0)
09:00     EU(16)     Current account (December) adjusted, bln     -13.3    -    -10.5 (-11.2)
11:00     UK     CBI industrial order books balance (February)    -8%    -10%    -16%
11:00     UK     CBI industrial output balance (February)    23%    -    17%

The yen rose amid speculation unrest will keep spreading in the Middle East, boosting demand for the safest assets.
Japan’s currency reached the lowest in nearly three weeks versus the euro after a security crackdown left at least three people dead in Bahrain. Egypt’s Suez Canal said no Iranian warships have applied to pass through the waterway, a day after Israel said Iran was sending two vessels to Syria.
The Swiss franc appreciated versus all but one major currency. The pound strengthened as Bank of England policy maker Andrew Sentance said interest rates should rise.  Sentance today said BOE policy makers can’t be “relaxed” about the currency’s level.
“We see this conflict in the Middle East clearly spreading to other countries now, and we have this issue of the Iranian warships entering the Suez Canal,” said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of foreign-exchange strategy at Commerzbank AG. “This is a positive signal for those currencies that are perceived as safe havens, which is especially the yen and, to a smaller degree, the Swiss franc.”
Demonstrations stretched into a third day in Bahrain, with protesters demanding democracy and the ouster of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, a member of the royal family who has held the post for four decades. Police and protesters also clashed in Yemen and Libya.
Oil traded near the highest in more than two years in London amid concern crude shipments will be disrupted.

EUR/USD held within the range, limited by $1.3535/90.

GBP/USD tested highs on $1.6144 before back to $1.6110. Later rate recovered to $1.6135.

USD/JPY held within the Y83.50/70 range.

A busy US calendar starts at 1330GMT, with the release of 12 Feb week Jobless Clains and the January CPI data.
Initial jobless claims are expected to rise 22,000 to 405,000 in the February 12 survey week.
Consumer prices are expected to rise 0.3% in January. Core CPI is forecast to rise only 0.1%.
At 1500GMT, the February Philly Fed survey is released, along with the January leading indicator data.
The Philadelphia Fed index is expected to rise to a reading of 21.0 in February after falling slightly in January.
The index of leading indicators is forecast to rise only 0.1% in January.
Also at 1500GMT,  Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke is to testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Dodd-Frank reforms, with other regulators.

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