The yen appreciated vis--vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the 100.00 figure and was capped around the 101.85 level. The yen had a bid to it after Japans parliament fully approved the nomination of Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Shirakawa to become the new Governor of the central bank. Shirakawa has a reputation of being somewhat hawkish on interest rates but most traders do not believe he will orchestrate a rate hike anytime soon. Many data were released in Japan overnight. First, March banking lending was up 1.2% y/y. Second, Japans money supply expanded 2.2% in March, below forecast. Third, Japans current account surplus expanded 2.9% in February, consistent with forecasts. Fourth, February core private sector machinery orders were 12.7% m/m lower to 1.06 trillion, the largest decline in more than four years. A government survey of private economists estimates Japans economy is likely to have expanded at an annualized rate of 0.76% in Q1. BoJ will release its semi-annual economic and prices outlook report later this month and it is probable the central bank will again downgrade its GDP growth estimate to around 1.5% from the 2.1% level it foresaw in the semi-annual report in October. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 1.27% to close at 12,945.30. Dollar offers are cited around the 103.65 level. The euro came off vis--vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the 158.75 level and was capped around the 161.20 level. The British pound and Swiss franc weakened vis--vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the 198.05 and 100.80 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis--vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 6.9916 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.0017 and the pairs lowest close since the yuan revaluation of July 2005. Notably, the fall below the psychologically-important CNY 7.0000 figure took place one day before the Group of Seven meeting begins in Washington, D.C. The Chinese government revised its 2007 GDP growth measure to 11.9% from 11.4%. It was also report that foreign direct investment was up 61.26% to US$ 27.41 billion between January and March while Q1 consumer confidence fell to 94.8.
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