The Swiss currency edged higher against most of its major rivals on Wednesday morning in New York. The franc rose to a 6-day high against the dollar and recovered from early European session's 2-day low versus the yen in early New York trading. However, the alpine currency drifted slightly lower against the euro from early morning sessions' 13-day high.

The Swiss currency advanced to a 6-day high of 1.1172 against the US dollar by 10:00 AM Eastern Time just before the release of new home sales report by the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, it pared some of its gains against the buck after the report showed that new home sales unexpectedly rebounded in February. The dollar-buck pair is presently worth near 1.124, compared to yesterday's close of 1.1321.

New home sales unexpectedly rose 4.7 percent to an annual rate of 337,000 in February from an upwardly revised January rate of 322,000. Economists had expected sales to fall to 300,000 from the 309,000 originally reported for the previous month.

Earlier in the session, durable goods orders also unexpectedly showed a substantial increase in February after falling in each of the six previous months. According to a report released by the Commerce Department, durable goods orders jumped 3.4 percent in February after falling by a revised 7.3 percent in January. Economists had been expecting durable goods orders to fall by 2.5 percent compared to the 4.5 percent decrease that had been reported for the previous month.

The Swiss franc dropped from its early European session's 13-day high of 1.5189 against the euro in early New York trading, easing to 1.5258 around 10:00 am. The euro-franc pair is presently trading at 1.5217, compared to yesterday's New York session closing value of 1.5246.

In economic news from the euro area, a monthly survey from the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research showed that German business confidence deteriorated to 82.1 in March from 82.6 in February. This was the lowest reading since the survey began in 1991. The expected level for March was 82.2.

The index measuring current situation worsened to 82.7 in March from 84.3 last month. However, the index stood above the expected reading of 82.5. On the other hand, the expectations index rose to 81.6 from 80.9 last month. Economists were expecting a reading of 81.5 for March.

In addition, Italy's economic think tank ISAE said consumer confidence in the economy declined in March after rising in past two months. The consumer confidence index fell to 99.8 in March from 104 recorded in February. Economists had forecast the reading to decline to 103.

Against the UK's sterling, the franc drifted higher to 1.6407 by 10:05 am Eastern Time Wednesday. The pound-franc pair that closed yesterday's North American deals at 1.6623 is currently quoted at 1.6417.

Indicating that retail sales in the UK have fallen steeply in the year to March, 63% of participants in the latest Distributive Trades Survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry revealed that the year-on-year sales volume decreased in the first half of March. Only 19% of retailers said the volume increased.

The resulting balance was minus 44%, severe than minus 25% recorded in February. It has thus marked a return to the heavy falls seen in the three months prior to February, the CBI said.

Reversing an early morning downtrend, the Swiss franc advanced to 87.07 against the Japanese yen by about 10:00 am ET. The franc-yen pair, which closed yesterday's deals at 86.49, is currently trading at 86.92.

The yen gained ground after the Japanese Ministry of Finance posted a merchandise trade balance of 82.4 billion yen in February. Analysts were expecting a 13.7 billion yen deficit following a 956.9 billion yen shortfall in January.

Exports plummeted by a record 49.9 percent on year, the data showed, while imports fell 43.0 percent on year to 3.443 trillion yen. Exports have fallen in five straight months, while imports are lower now in four straight months.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Hirohide Yamaguchi said today that Japan's economic and financial conditions will likely continue to be severe. Addressing business leaders in Otaru, Yamaguchi said at this point, the central bank is giving higher priority for securing market stability and facilitating corporate financing, which are the second and third main areas of the BoJ's conduct of monetary policy.

For comments and feedback: contact