Tuesday in Asia, the Japanese yen fell against its major counterparts as the nation's jobless rate rose to a 3-year high, reflecting the current economic downturn with companies increasingly reducing their payrolls.
Japan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate came in at 4.4 percent in February, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said today, touching a three-year high. That was slightly higher that forecasts for a 4.3 percent increase after the 4.1 percent gain in January.
The number of employed persons in February was 62.65 million, a decrease of 270 thousand or 0.4 percent from the previous year.
Also, the ministry said that labor cash earnings were down 2.7 percent on year in February, versus expectations for a 1.5 percent fall after the revised 2.7 percent contraction in January.
As recession fears increased in Japan following today's jobless report, the Prime Minister Taro Aso is expected to unveil the outline of a new stimulus package. Aso is set to meet the press later in the day to announce details of the steps, before leaving for London to attend a two-day Group of 20 financial summit from Wednesday.
Japan's February annualized housing starts, March small business confidence, construction orders are slated for release at 1:00 am ET
The yen hit lows of 86.06 against the Swiss franc and 130.66 against the euro by about 10:35 pm ET Monday, compared to Monday's New York session closing values of 84.73 and 128.40, respectively. On the downside, the Japanese currency may likely find support near the 87.7 level against the Swiss currency and 133.8 against the euro.
During the European session, Swiss UBS consumption indicator, French housing starts, Italian CPI and retail sales and euro-zone March CPI estimate are scheduled for release.
In early Asian trading on Tuesday, the Japanese yen traded weak against the currency of UK. The yen hit a 4-day low of 141.19 against the pound by about 11:45 pm ET, compared to 138.80 hit late Monday in New York. If the yen slides further, the next likely support level is seen at 143.03.
The pound rose today as the consumer confidence in Great Britain came better than the analyst's expectations. Data consolidator GfK said that consumer confidence was higher for the second consecutive month in Great Britain, suggesting that measures to end the recession are starting to take hold.
The consumer confidence index came in at -30 versus analyst expectations for a score of -37 following the -35 reading in February. British consumers became more optimistic about the general economic outlook over the next 12 months, also upgrading their assessment of the state of the economy over the past 12 months.
Against the US currency, the Japanese yen edged down to 98.45 during Tuesday's early Asian trading, down from yesterday's North American session closing value of 97.27. The yen may likely test support around the 98.8 level, if it weakens further.
The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, is scheduled to be released at 9 am ET. Economists expect an 18.5% year-over-year decline in the 20-city composite house price index for January.
The results of the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago's business survey for March are scheduled to be released at 9:45 am ET. Economists expect the business barometer index based on the survey, to be at 34.7.
At 10:00 am ET, the Conference Board is scheduled to release its consumer confidence report for March. The survey is expected to show that the consumer confidence index remained rise to 27 in March.
Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser is scheduled to deliver a speech on regulatory reform to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business at 1 pm ET.
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