Wednesday in Asia, the yen rose to near a 2-week high against the U.S. dollar and it recouped early losses against other major currencies on risk aversion amid growing concerns about the political turmoil in Libya and surging crude oil prices.
Latest reports say that embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi rejected calls for his resignation in a defiant speech on state television. Gadhafi, who has been in power in Libya for over 40 years, has seen his stranglehold over the North African nation wane in the wake of massive protests that have overwhelmed the country over the last couple of days.
Most Asian stocks declined. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index is currently down by 87.94 points or 0.8% at 10,576.11.
In economic news, Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 471.4 billion yen in January, the Ministry of Finance said today. That came as a shock to analysts, who had been expecting a surplus of 49.3 billion yen following the downwardly revised surplus of 725.9 billion yen in December.
Meanwhile, an index measuring corporate service prices in Japan was down 1.1 percent on year in January, the Bank of Japan said, standing at 96.1. That was slightly better than forecasts for a 1.3 percent annual contraction. Prices were down 0.3 percent on month following a 0.2 percent decline in December.
The yen is currently trading near a 2-week high of 82.55 against the US dollar with 82.0 seen as the next upside target level. At yesterday’s close, the dollar-yen pair was quoted at 82.82.
The yen is now worth 113.10 against the euro, 88.10 against the franc and 133.57 against the pound, compared to early Asian session lows of 113.61, 88.44 and 134.16, respectively. The yen closed yesterday’s trading at 113.07 against the euro, 133.67 against the pound and 88.25 against the franc.
The yen slipped to 83.16 against the Aussie before bouncing back in early Wednesday Asian deals at 8:00 pm ET. As of now, the yen is trading near yesterday’s close of 82.75.
The yen that fell to 83.86 against the Canadian dollar at 8 pm ET rebounded thereafter. Currently, the loonie-yen pair is worth 83.50, compared to yesterday’s close of 83.60.
At present, the yen is worth 61.75 against the NZ dollar, compared to an early Asian session low of 62.27. The kiwi-yen pair closed yesterday’s trading at 61.85.
Looking ahead, France CPI and Swiss producer and import price index – both for January, Bank of England’s minutes for February meeting and the Eurozone industrial new orders for December are expected in the upcoming European session.
The U.S. existing home sales for January is due in the New York morning.