13 February 2013: Yen turbulence prior to G-20

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There is big nervousness in the currency markets prior to the G-20 meeting in Moscow Thursday and Friday. Yesterday the Japanese Yen was in focus. Since December the Yen has fallen 13% against the USD and lost even more ground to the Euro. After two decades of stagnation there is, however, an understanding among the world’s 20 biggest developed and developing states that Japan ought to take firm steps to better its economy and secure economic growth.

The Yen swung dramatically on Wednesday. A statement from the G-7 (the group of the leading 7 industrialized nations) on Japan was differently interpreted. The Japanese Minister of Finance said that the statement recognizes that Japan’s monetary easing measures were not aimed at influencing and distort foreign exchange markets. Then a G-7 official stated the exact opposite. The statement was indeed meant to express such concerns. The yen thereafter fluctuated wildly. USD/JPY was jumping up and down between 92 and 94 yen to a dollar after falling 13% since December.

The incident illustrates the fear for a currency war looming in the background prior to the G-20 meeting. An effort to soothe market and avoid excessive moves in Yen had exactly the opposite effect. Other currency pairs were also affected. Euro/USD was fluctuating between 1.3325 and 1.3450. Oil prices rebounded after falling in the first part of Wednesday. New York Crude, NYMEX, is at 97 and Brent crude trades at USD 118,40 a barrel.

Stocks on Wall Street closed modestly higher on Tuesday. Dow Jones was within striking distance of an all-time high as investors looked ahead to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Obama challenged a divided Congress to back his proposals to create middle-class jobs and overhaul gun and immigration laws. 

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