The dollar is up against its major European rivals Thursday afternoon, but is continuing to lose ground against the Japanese Yen. The U.S. currency is gaining ground against its European rivals after the minutes from the most recent ECB meeting suggested that further stimulus measures could be possible.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s Fed minutes showed that policy makers remain concerned about low inflation and lingering economic problems overseas.
The Bank of Japan left its economic view of eight out of nine regions unchanged from its prior assessment in January, while downgrading Tohoku region.
In its quarterly Regional Economic Report released Thursday, the bank said eight regions reported that their assessments regarding the pace of economic improvement had remained unchanged.
The BoJ said Tohoku region revised its assessment downward, noting that production had continued to be somewhat weak.
The Tokai region observed that its economy had been expanding at a moderate pace as a trend, and the other eight regions reported that the economy had continued its moderate recovery trend, or had been recovering moderately, or had continued to recover.
Fitch Ratings maintained the sovereign ratings of Japan with ‘stable’ outlook on Thursday.
The agency affirmed ‘A’ rating on long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings. The outlooks on the ratings remained ‘stable’.
Fitch said the factor constraining the rating is Japan’s high and rising government debt. By the end of 2016, gross general government debt is expected to reach 245 percent of GDP, the highest ratio of any rated sovereign.
The dollar sank to over a 16-month low of Y107.649 against the Japanese Yen, but has since recovered to around Y108.230.
European Central Bank policymakers discussed the possibility of a sharper interest rate cut in March, but decided that a smaller one was appropriate as further reductions cannot be ruled out if the inflation outlook worsens, the minutes of the policy meeting on March 9-10 released Thursday showed.
After the March policy session, the ECB announced a slew of stimulus measures that included a reduction to all of its main three interest rates and a new long term refinancing operation.
Members broadly supported a further cut in the deposit facility rate and, stressed the importance of communication and the link to the formulation of forward guidance, the report, which the ECB calls “the account” of the Governing Council session revealed.
“On the one hand, a sharper rate cut could be considered, together with indications that the effective lower bound would have been reached for all practical purposes,” the report said.
“On the other hand, the proposed limited rate cut could be judged as appropriate for now, given the current assessment, while it would also not rule out the possibility and prospect of further cuts if warranted by the outlook for price stability.”
Further, members also considered the scope for introducing an exemption scheme for the deposit facility rate applicable to banks’ holdings of excess reserves, the minutes said. However, the idea was abandoned due to its complexity and the lack of evidence of negative side effects at present.
The buck slipped to an early low of $1.1453 against the Euro Thursday, but has since climbed to around $1.1375.
German manufacturing turnover declined for the first time in three months in February, Destatis reported Thursday. Manufacturing turnover fell 0.5 percent in February from January, when it grew by revised 0.8 percent. This was the first fall since November.
French foreign trade deficit increased in February, as exports fell and imports rose, figures from customs office showed Thursday.
The trade deficit widened to EUR 5.18 billion in February from EUR 3.91 billion in the preceding month, which was revised from a deficit of EUR 3.71 billion reported earlier. Economists had expected a shortfall of EUR 3.7 billion for the month.
The French current account deficit increased notably in February on widening visible trade gap, the Bank of France reported Thursday. The current account gap widened to EUR 3.9 billion from EUR 2.2 billion in January.
The greenback has risen to around $1.4065 against the pound sterling, from an early low of $1.4156.
U.K. labor productivity declined in the fourth quarter after rising for three straight quarters, the Office for National Statistics showed Thursday. Output per hour decreased 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter from a quarter ago offsetting a 0.6 percent rise in the previous three months. This was the biggest fall since the end of 2008.
U.K. house prices increased more than expected in the first quarter, survey data from the mortgage lender Halifax revealed Thursday. House prices advanced 10.1 percent in three months to March from last year after rising 9.7 percent in three months to February. Economists had forecast the pace to ease slightly to 9.5 percent.
First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by more than expected in the week ended April 2nd, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. The report said initial jobless claims fell to 267,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 276,000. Economists had expected claims to edge down to 272,000.
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