During early Asian deals on Wednesday, the Japanese yen showed strength against its major counterparts as a fall in stock prices prompted investors to reduce holdings of higher-yielding assets funded in Japan as a refuge from the global financial turmoil. The yen climbed to a 6-day high against the European currency.
The Japanese stock market opened weaker today morning, taking cues from Wall Street, where the major indices continued to slide for the second successive day on Tuesday as traders expressed some anxiety about the upcoming earning season and stocks' ability to sustain the recent upward move in light of expectations of weak quarterly results.
On Tuesday, the Dow closed down 186.29 points or 2.3% at 7,790, while the Nasdaq closed down 45.10 points or 2.8% at 1,562 and the S&P 500 closed down 19.93 points or 2.4% at 816.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index, having opened weaker at 8,747 compared to its previous close of 8,833, is currently trading at 8,658, down 174.59 points, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues is losing 9.99 points to 823.
In economic news, the current account balance in Japan swung to a surplus in February, the Ministry of Finance said in a preliminary report on Wednesday, coming in at 1.116 trillion yen.
That's down 55.6 percent on year, even though it beat expectations for a surplus of 1.071 trillion yen following the record 172.8 billion yen shortfall in January. The current account surplus was 125.4 billion yen in December, 581.2 billion yen in November and 960.5 billion yen in October.
The trade balance was 202.1 billion yen, down 80.4 percent on year as imports fell a record 44.9 percent and exports plummeted 50.4 percent - also a record. Analysts had expected a trade surplus of 142 billion yen following the 844.4 billion yen deficit in January.
Japan will release the results of its economy watchers survey for February, with analysts expecting a score of 20.9 after the 19.4 reading in January. Finally, the Bank of Japan will release its monthly report.
Against the US dollar, the Japanese yen edged higher during early Asian deals on Wednesday. At 10:25 pm ET, the yen reached a high of 100.05 against the dollar, compared to 100.43 hit late New York Tuesday. The next upside target level for the Japanese currency is seen around 98.8.
The Japanese yen that closed Tuesday's North American session at 133.30 against the European currency climbed to a 6-day high of 131.80 at 10:55 pm ET. If the Japanese currency gains further, 130.5 is seen as the next target level.
Against the British pound, the Japanese yen traded higher during Wednesday's early Asian deals. At 10:55 pm ET, the yen hit a high of 146.69 against the pound, compared to Tuesday's closing value of 147.98. On the upside, 141 is seen as the next target level for the yen.
An index measuring consumer confidence in the United Kingdom tied a record low score in March, Nationwide said today, posting a reading of 41. That was lower than analyst expectations for a score of 45 after the index came in at 43 in February.
The economy of Great Britain contracted by an estimated 1.5 percent in the first three months of 2009, according to a study released today by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).
The Institute's estimate was slightly lower than the 1.6 percent contraction officially recorded for the final quarter of 2008.
NIESR warned that the figure should not be considered a signal of an improving economy, but simply a very small difference accentuated by rounding.
The Japanese unit that closed Tuesday's New York deals at 87.93 against the Swiss franc advanced to 87.12 at 10:55 pm ET. The franc-yen pair is currently trading at 87.25 with 85.9 seen as the next target level.
In the European session today, the German trade balance, current account and factory orders and the French trade balance are due for release.
Across the Atlantic, the Commerce Department is due to release its wholesale inventories report at 10 am ET. Economists expect wholesale inventories at the end of February to show a 0.6% decline.
The Energy Information Administration is scheduled to release its weekly petroleum inventory report at 10:30 am ET.
The Federal Reserve is scheduled to release the minutes of its March 17th-18th meeting at 2 pm ET.
Along with an announcement to keep interest rates unchanged at exceptionally low levels following its two-day FOMC meeting in March, the Fed said it would purchase $300 billion worth of longer-term securities over the next 6 months. Additionally, the Fed said it will buy an incremental $750 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities and $100 billion of government sponsored enterprises - GSE debt. The Fed also said it intends to add $100 billion to its purchases of agency debt.
For comments and feedback: contact firstname.lastname@example.org