Asia Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia.html Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:53:14 +0000 SRA Framework 2.0 en-gb Sri Lanka rupee forwards end weaker on importer dollar demand; seen falling http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219751-sri-lanka-rupee-forwards-end-weaker-on-importer-dollar-demand;-seen-falling.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219751-sri-lanka-rupee-forwards-end-weaker-on-importer-dollar-demand;-seen-falling.html imageCOLOMBO: Sri Lankan rupee forwards ended a tad weaker on Monday due to importer dollar demand, while exporters awaited direction from the monetary policy and a supplementary budget later this week, dealers said.

Fears of possible depreciation also kept exporters away from the market, dealers said.

The three-day forwards, which were actively traded, ended a tad weaker at 132.99/133.19 per dollar, compared with Friday's close of 132.95/133.05.

Four-day forwards closed at 133.00/133.20 per dollar, weaker from Friday's close of 132.95/133.05. They fell 0.45 percent last week, market data showed.

"Rupee is weaker with diminishing exporter dollar conversions," a dealer said. "The market is expecting depreciation in the short term with the widening trade balance and in line with global currencies."

The central bank will announce its first monetary policy under the new government on Tuesday and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake will announce a supplementary budget on Thursday.

President Maithripala Sirisena had pledged pay hikes for state sector, reduction in the prices of 10 essential goods, and cuts in the cost of living through the budget.

Market players expect the rupee to depreciate to 135 in the near future, either due to a policy decision in the budget or if the central bank stops its intervention, allowing it to fall gradually.

Sirisena, who announced an interim cabinet on Jan. 12, said he would carry out reforms to fight corruption in the 100 days to a parliamentary election.

The market is expecting a flexible exchange rate with more foreign grants under the new government as opposed to the controlled exchange rate regime earlier.

The spot currency was not traded on Monday.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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imad_kueconomist@yahoo.com (Imaduddin) Asia Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:26:54 +0000
Euro, stocks slip as Greece set to reject austerity http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219734-euro-stocks-slip-as-greece-set-to-reject-austerity.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219734-euro-stocks-slip-as-greece-set-to-reject-austerity.html image

TOKYO: The euro skidded to an 11-year low and stock prices fell on Monday as Greece's Syriza party promised to roll back austerity measures after sweeping to victory in a snap election, putting Athens on a collision course with international lenders.

The euro fell to an 11-year low of $1.1098 on the vote outcome before recovering to $1.1186, still down 0.2 percent from last week.

The election was the second blow since last week for the euro, still smarting after the European Central Bank unveiled a huge bond-buying stimulus programme.

European shares are expected to take a beating, with spread betters seeing a fall of 1.0-1.1 percent in Germany's DAX and other core countries. Southern European countries could see a fall of almost 2 percent.

As concerns grew that the Greek election results could lead to renewed instability in Europe, US stock futures fell 0.5 percent in Asia. Japan's Nikkei closed down 0.3 percent, and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was also off 0.3 percent.

Safe-haven assets were in favour, with the 30-year US bonds yield hitting a record low of 2.336 percent. The 10-year notes yield fell 5 basis points to 1.759 percent.

The Swiss franc rose 0.4 percent to 0.87684 to the dollar while the yen edged up to 117.60 to the dollar.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is set to form the first euro zone government that is openly opposed to bailout conditions imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund during the economic crisis.

Renegotiating with other euro zone governments could even raise the risk of Greece eventually leaving the currency union, though most market players expect Tsipras to eventually make compromises to avoid the so-called "Grexit".

Indeed, the broad consensus in the markets is that any renewed tensions over Greece are unlikely to hurt broader investor sentiment much beyond an initial shock.

Unlike at the height of the debt crisis in 2011-12, European banks now have limited exposure to Greece, and European policymakers have frameworks to deal with indebted countries, analysts say.

"At the moment, the market believes that if there is any (debt) restructuring it would only involve the official sector and for now, the possibility of Greece leaving the euro zone even with the incoming government is small," said Sebastian Galy, senior foreign exchange analyst at Societe Generale in New York.

The ECB's plan to pump more than a trillion euro into the banking system in the coming year and a half is underpinning risk sentiment, which boosted European share prices to seven-year highs on Friday.

On the other hand, US stocks slipped on Friday, partly because strength of the dollar dented the allure of the relatively sound US economy.

"Economic data out of the US seems to have lost a little bit of momentum lately. Quietly the impact of a strong dollar is starting to appear," said Tohru Yamamoto, chief strategist at Daiwa Securities.

The dollar rose more than 5 percent so far this year against a basket of major currencies, hitting the highest level since 2003.

That could encourage the Federal Reserve to remain "patient" in raising interest rates, when it holds a policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Elsewhere, oil prices also started the week weaker, with US crude futures falling 0.9 percent to $45.17 per barrel, near 5 1-2/year low of $44.20 hit earlier this month.

Oil prices blipped up briefly on Friday after the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah sparked speculation that the world's biggest crude exporter could change its policy not to slash output despite relentless price falls.

But the rises were short-lived as new King Salman was quick to keep veteran oil minister Ali al-Naimi on Friday, pledging continuity in energy policy.

Copper dropped below its trough hit on Jan. 14, slipping to as low as $5,345 per tonne, its lowest level in 5 1/2 years.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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nasir_only4u@hotmail.com (Nasir Ahmed) Asia Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:20:17 +0000
Euro hits 11-year low as Greek leftists sweep to power http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219726-euro-hits-11-year-low-as-greek-leftists-sweep-to-power.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219726-euro-hits-11-year-low-as-greek-leftists-sweep-to-power.html imageTOKYO: The euro hit an 11-year low versus the US dollar on Monday as Greece's anti-austerity Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election, putting Athens on a collision course with international lenders.

The single currency dropped to $1.1098, a level not seen since September 2003, before steadying around $1.1180, as official projections showed Syriza was set to win 149 seats in the 300-seat parliament.

While Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras fell just short of an overall majority, he is set to lead the first euro zone government that could get in a high-stakes standoff with European lenders over austerity measures.

The euro fell to as low as 130.160 yen, its lowest level in 1-1/2 years, before it bounced back to 131.500. The common currency also dropped against the sterling, hitting a seven-year low of 74.06 pence.

Market participants saw the risk that euro selling would pick up later in the day if Syriza reiterates a tough stance for negotiations with the "Troika" comprising the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

Such a scenario could trigger a test of $1.10, where large options lay, according to several research notes.

But some analysts also said the long-term impact may be more nuanced as most investors expect Tsipras, at the end of the day, to work with the European Union and other international lenders.

"Usually politicians say populistic things before an election. So now the question is how much they are going to stick to the promises made to the Troika," said Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

ECB board member Benoit Coeure said in a newspaper interview published on Monday that the European Central Bank would not take part in any debt cut for Greece.

Tsipras is expected to hold coalition talks on Monday with the small Independent Greeks party which, like Syriza, opposes Greece's bailout deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

"The market was largely anticipating a (Syriza) victory," said Sebastien Galy, senior foreign exchange analyst at Societe Generale in New York.

"At the moment, the market believes that if there is any (debt) restructuring it would only involve the official sector and for now, the possibility of Greece leaving the euro zone even with the incoming government is small," he added.

The euro also remained on the defensive after Thursday's announcement of quantitative easing by the ECB.

It has sold off dramatically from $1.21 at the start of the year and lost more then 3 percent against the US dollar last week, in the wake of aggressive asset-buying measures announced by the ECB to shore up the region's struggling economy.

Losses in the single currency provided a broad boost to the US dollar, with dollar index rising to as high as 95.331 , not far from an 11-year high of 95.481 hit on Friday.

Against the yen, which benefitted from safe-haven flows after Greek election, the dollar stood little changed at 117.64 yen. The Aussie sank as low as $0.7850, its lowest since mid-2009, while the kiwi fell to more than three-year trough of $0.7407.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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nasir_only4u@hotmail.com (Nasir Ahmed) Asia Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:11:23 +0000
Sri Lankan rupee tad weaker on importer dlr demand, stocks up http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219711-sri-lankan-rupee-tad-weaker-on-importer-dlr-demand-stocks-up.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219711-sri-lankan-rupee-tad-weaker-on-importer-dlr-demand-stocks-up.html imageCOLOMBO: Sri Lankan rupee forwards traded a tad weaker on Monday due to importer dollar demand and low exporter greenback sales while the market awaited direction from an interim budget later this week, dealers said.

Four-day forwards were actively traded and stood at 132.99/133.15 per dollar by 0627 GMT, little changed from Friday's close of 132.95/133.05.

"The exporters are not converting dollars as they are waiting to see the direction. There are normal imports which put the pressure on the currency," said a currency dealer.

The market is waiting for clarity on the new government's economic policy from an interim budget that Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake will present on Thursday, dealers said.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who announced an interim cabinet on Jan. 12, said he would carry out reforms to fight corruption.

The market is expecting a flexible exchange rate with more foreign grants under the new government as opposed to the controlled exchange rate regime earlier.

Market players, however, expect the rupee to depreciate to 135 in the near future, either due to a policy decision in the budget or if the central bank stops intervention and allows it to fall gradually.

The spot currency was not traded on Monday. The main stock index was up 0.24 percent or 17.17 points at 7,293.80 at 0653 GMT in thin-volume trade.

Analysts said investors are waiting for direction from the budget amid concerns over political uncertainty as President Sirisena has said he will hold parliamentary elections after April 23.

Turnover was 215.1 million rupees ($1.63 million) by 0655 GMT, exchange data showed.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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parvezjabri@yahoo.com (Parvez Jabri) Asia Mon, 26 Jan 2015 07:38:10 +0000
Euro under pressure in Asia after plunging on ECB stimulus http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219225-euro-under-pressure-in-asia-after-plunging-on-ecb-stimulus.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219225-euro-under-pressure-in-asia-after-plunging-on-ecb-stimulus.html imageTOKYO: The euro was on Friday close to its lowest levels in more than a decade after the European Central Bank launched a vast bond-buying programme aimed at kickstarting the eurozone economy.

The single currency -- which hit an 11-year low of $1.1316 after the announcement Thursday -- bought $1.1342 in Tokyo afternoon trade. That is down from $1.1359 late in New York and well off the levels above $1.16 seen earlier Thursday in Asia.

It also fell to 134.25 yen, against 134.63 yen in US trade and 136.80 yen Thursday in Tokyo.

The dollar edged down to 118.35 yen against 118.52 yen in New York.

The ECB said it would inject 60 billion euros a month into financial markets from March until September 2016, a programme known as quantitative easing (QE). Analysts had been expecting it to buy 50 billion euros a month.

The move came after the region's inflation turned negative in December, stoking fears that the 19-nation eurozone is on the brink of a dangerous deflationary spiral.

Analysts said the single currency could weaken further as the ECB announcement underscores a growing policy divergence with the US Federal Reserve.

The Fed wrapped up its own quantitative easing (QE) programme in October and is now considering an interest rate hike this year.

"The euro has more downside as the monetary policy divergence will likely become clear with the Fed meeting next week," Etsuko Yamashita, chief economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, told Bloomberg News.

"The ECB's decision implies quantitative easing will last for a considerably long time and is spurring euro selling in reaction."

The euro also slipped to 0.9862 Swiss francs, from 0.9897 in New York, while the British pound briefly dipped below $1.50 for the first time since mid-2013.

Traders are also keeping any eye on weekend elections in Greece where the left-wing Syriza party could win on its pledge to redraft the country's multi-billion EU-IMF bailout and erase most of its huge debt. That has stoked fears of Greece's eventual exit from the eurozone.

Other Asia-Pacific currencies mostly rose against the dollar.

The greenback weakened to 61.43 Indian rupees from 61.59 rupees on Thursday, to 44.14 Philippine pesos from 44.39 pesos, to 1,084.43 South Korean won from 1,085.60 won, and to Tw$31.31 from Tw$31.43.

It also slipped to 32.60 Thai baht from 32.61 baht, and was flat at 12,471.00 Indonesian rupiah. It rose to Sg$1.3387 from Sg$1.3339.

The Australian dollar briefly dipped to 79.95 US cents -- the first time it has fallen below 80 cents since mid-2009 -- before ticking back up to 80 cents. It had bought 80.63 cents on Thursday.

The Chinese yuan fetched 19.05 yen compared with 19.02 yen.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

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parvezjabri@yahoo.com (Parvez Jabri) Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:06:45 +0000
China's use of yuan for cross-border business growing http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219221-chinas-use-of-yuan-for-cross-border-business-growing.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219221-chinas-use-of-yuan-for-cross-border-business-growing.html imageSHANGHAI: China's use of its own yuan currency for cross-border transactions has increased "notably" to 9.95 trillion yuan ($1.63 trillion) last year, the central bank said Friday, without giving a comparative figure.

China is seeking to make the yuan -- also known as the renminbi (RMB) -- used more internationally in line with its standing as the world's second-largest economy. Some analysts predict the unit will one day rival the US dollar.

The combined volume of yuan settlement for cross-border trade, investment and financing accounted for around 20 percent of China's total cross-border payments and receipts last year, the People's Bank of China (PBoC) said in a statement.

But while Beijing is looking to promote the yuan, its value is closely controlled and authorities keep a tight grip on the capital account -- investment and financial transactions, rather than those related to trade -- over concerns that unpredictable inflows or outflows could harm the economy and their oversight of it.

China's official news agency Xinhua said in a commentary Friday that yuan internationalisation would benefit the entire world.

"The international usage of the RMB is still in its early days, but in the long run it helps diversify and improve the global reserve system, which is currently dominated by a volatile US dollar," it said.

China's commerce ministry said this week it will it will only issue figures for inward and outward foreign investment in yuan, dropping the dollar statistic.

Spokesman Shen Danyang said no big countries, such as the US, would announce such figures in another country's currency, adding that it was also partly an effort to push the yuan's greater international role.

Earlier this month, Customs only issued trade values in yuan at its quarterly briefing, with the official dollar amount made available later on its website.

Transactions organisation SWIFT estimates the yuan is the seventh most used global payment currency, though with only a 1.59 percent share as of October last year.

"We have seen a significant increase in RMB usage for payments with China and Hong Kong. Most of this growth is from early adopters and main RMB clearing centres," Astrid Thorsen, head of business intelligence for SWIFT, said in a statement in November.

"This is a good sign for RMB adoption rates and internationalisation."

China has set up yuan clearing arrangements with 10 countries and regions and signed currency swap agreements with 28 central banks, the PBoC statement said.

In the latest agreement, Switzerland's central bank said Wednesday it had signed a pact with the PBoC to set up clearing arrangements for yuan trading.

The Swiss National Bank said the agreement will facilitate bilateral trade and investment.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

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parvezjabri@yahoo.com (Parvez Jabri) Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:00:29 +0000
Euro ticks up in Asia after plunging on ECB stimulus http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219134-euro-ticks-up-in-asia-after-plunging-on-ecb-stimulus.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/219134-euro-ticks-up-in-asia-after-plunging-on-ecb-stimulus.html imageTOKYO: The euro edged higher Friday but remained under pressure after sinking to its lowest level in more than a decade after the European Central Bank launch a vast bond-buying programme aimed at kickstarting the eurozone economy.

The single currency -- which hit an 11-year low of $1.1316 after the announcement Thursday -- bought $1.1366 in Tokyo early trade, a tad up from $1.1359 late in New York. The euro was trading above the $1.16 level earlier Thursday in Asia.

It also inched up to 134.66 yen, against 134.63 yen in US trade, but was still down from 136.80 yen earlier in the day in Tokyo.

The dollar fetched 118.47 yen against 118.52 yen in New York.

The ECB said it would inject 60 billion euros a month into financial markets from March until September 2016, a programme known as quantitative easing (QE).

That was more aggressive than the 50 billion euro pace that many had expected.

The move came after the region's inflation turned negative in December, stoking fears that the 19-nation eurozone is on the brink of a dangerous deflationary spiral of falling prices.

However, despite the euro's modest pick up, analysts said it could weaken further as the ECB move underscores a growing policy split with the US Federal Reserve.

The Fed has wrapped up its own quantitative easing (QE) programme as it eyes a mid-year interest rate hike.

"The euro has more downside as the monetary policy divergence will likely become clear with the Fed meeting next week," Etsuko Yamashita, chief economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, told Bloomberg News.

"The ECB's decision implies quantitative easing will last for a considerably long time and is spurring euro selling in reaction."

Against other currencies the euro bought 0.9882 Swiss francs, against from 0.9897 in New York.

The Australian dollar briefly dipped to 79.95 US cents -- the first time it has fallen below 80 cents since mid-2009 -- before ticking up to 80.33 cents.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

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parvezjabri@yahoo.com (Parvez Jabri) Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 04:08:15 +0000
Sri Lankan rupee, stocks fall on political, economic policy woes http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/218867-sri-lankan-rupee-stocks-fall-on-political-economic-policy-woes.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/218867-sri-lankan-rupee-stocks-fall-on-political-economic-policy-woes.html imageCOLOMBO: Sri Lankan rupee forwards traded weaker for a fifth straight session on Thursday on importer dollar demand while exporters stayed on the sidelines on fears of possible depreciation, though the central bank capped the fall, dealers said.

Actively traded four-day forwards fell 0.23 percent to 133.25 before the central bank prevented a further decline via moral suasion. The four-day forwards were traded at 132.95/133.20 per dollar by 0837 GMT, compared with Wednesday's close of 132.95/133.05.

Dealers expect the rupee to depreciate to 135 in the near future, either due to a policy decision in the budget or if the central bank allows it to fall gradually by stopping intervention.

Exporters are waiting for clarity on economic policy from President Maithripala Sirisena's new government ahead of a scheduled interim budget on Jan. 29, dealers said.

Sirisena, who announced an interim cabinet on Jan. 12, said he would carry out reforms to fight corruption in the 100 days to a parliamentary election.

The market is expecting a flexible exchange rate with more foreign grants under the new government as opposed to the controlled exchange rate regime earlier.

The spot currency was not traded on Thursday.

The main stock index fell 1.37 percent in thin volume trade a day after the government reappointed Thilak Karunaratne head of the market regulator and said he was to investigate suspected corrupt deals.

The index, however, recovered after top conglomerate John Keells Holdings, which lost 3.23 percent in early trade, recouped its losses. The market was down 0.01 percent at 0854 GMT.

"There was some panic selling with the uncertainty - not only the political uncertainty but the uncertainty after the change of the SEC Chairman," said Dimantha Mathew manager, research at First Capital Equities (pvt) Ltd.

"Most of the uncertainty will be settled after the budget next week," Karunaratne told Reuters, adding he would not be "on a witch hunt", while the investigations into alleged corrupt deals would go through.

The index has fallen 4.87 percent in the past six sessions on political uncertainty.

Turnover was 1.19 billion rupees ($9.04 million) by 0905 GMT, exchange data showed.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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imad_kueconomist@yahoo.com (Imaduddin) Asia Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:41:21 +0000
Euro under pressure in Asia ahead of ECB meet http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/218806-euro-under-pressure-in-asia-ahead-of-ecb-meet.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/218806-euro-under-pressure-in-asia-ahead-of-ecb-meet.html imageTOKYO: The euro struggled against the dollar in Asia on Thursday as traders await a European Central Bank meeting where policymakers are widely expected to launch a huge bond-buying programme to kickstart the eurozone economy.

The single European currency fetched $1.1599 and 137.02 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, compared with $1.1607 and 136.85 yen in New York late Wednesday.

The dollar rose to 118.13 yen from 117.90 yen after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) on Wednesday slashed its outlook on consumer prices, throwing a much-touted 2.0 percent inflation target into further doubt.

The BoJ's downgrade -- and high expectations for the new ECB measures -- come after the US Federal Reserve wound up its own asset-purchase scheme and eyes a mid-year interest rate hike, which is a plus for the dollar.

"The US is standing out even more as central banks continue to ease policy," said Junichi Ishikawa, market analyst at IG Markets Securities. "Conditions remain supportive for the dollar."

Speculation has reached fever pitch that ECB chief Mario Draghi will use his most powerful policy tool yet in the battle against deflation.

The expected programme of sovereign bond purchases, known as quantitative easing (QE), comes after eurozone prices fell in December for the first time in five years, stoking fears that the region is on the brink of a dangerous deflationary spiral.

The prospect of such a move has hit the euro, which last week fell below $1.1500 for the first time in more than 11 years before recovering slightly.

"The euro decision is kind of well telegraphed but euro-dollar does have more to go on the downside," Thomas Averill, a managing director in Sydney at Rochford Capital, told Bloomberg News.

"The eurozone economy seems pretty sluggish at the moment and needs QE."

On Thursday, the BoJ slashed its inflation outlook for the year from April 2015 partially because of plunging oil prices, while policymakers decided against fresh easing measures.

But the bank boosted its growth forecasts, saying the economy was rebounding, although analysts said the inflation downgrade was likely to boost speculation of further easing measures down the line.

The dollar was mixed against other Asia-Pacific currencies.

It edged up to 1,085.60 South Korean won from 1,083.30 won on Wednesday, and to 32.61 Thai baht from 32.57 baht.

The greenback slipped to Sg$1.3339 from Sg$1.3349, to 12,471.00 Indonesian rupiah from 12,493.00 rupiah, to Tw$31.43 from Tw$31.49, to 61.59 Indian rupees from 61.60 rupees, and to 44.39 Philippine pesos from 44.41 pesos.

The Australian dollar weakened to 80.63 US cents from 82.25 cents, while the Chinese yuan firmed to 19.02 yen from 18.91 yen.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

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parvezjabri@yahoo.com (Parvez Jabri) Asia Thu, 22 Jan 2015 07:25:48 +0000
Euro under pressure in Asia ahead of ECB meet http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/218785-euro-under-pressure-in-asia-ahead-of-ecb-meet.html http://www.brecorder.com/markets/fxmm/asia/218785-euro-under-pressure-in-asia-ahead-of-ecb-meet.html imageTOKYO: The euro struggled against the dollar in Asia on Thursday as traders await a European Central Bank meeting where policymakers are widely expected to launch a huge bond-buying programme to kickstart the ailing eurozone economy.

The single European currency fetched $1.1604 and 137.22 yen at midday in Tokyo, mixed from $1.1607 and 136.85 yen in New York.

The dollar rose to 118.29 yen against 117.90 yen in US trade, after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) on Wednesday slashed its outlook on consumer prices, throwing a much-touted 2.0 percent inflation target into further doubt.

The BoJ's downgrade -- and high expectations for the new ECB measures -- come after the US Federal Reserve wound up its own asset-purchase scheme and eyes a mid-year interest rate hike, which is a plus for the dollar.

"The US is standing out even more as central banks continue to ease policy," said Junichi Ishikawa, market analyst at IG Markets Securities.

"Conditions remain supportive for the dollar."

Speculation has reached fever pitch that ECB chief Mario Draghi will use his most powerful policy tool yet in the battle against deflation.

The expected programme of sovereign bond purchases, known as quantitative easing (QE), comes after eurozone prices fell in December for the first time in five years, stoking fears that the region is on the brink of a dangerous spiral of falling prices.

The prospect of such a move has hit the euro, which last week fell below $1.1500 for the first time in more than 11 years before recovering slightly.

"The euro decision is kind of well telegraphed but euro-dollar does have more to go on the downside," Thomas Averill, a managing director in Sydney at Rochford Capital, told Bloomberg News.

"The euro-zone economy seems pretty sluggish at the moment and needs QE."

On Thursday, the BoJ slashed its inflation outlook for the year from April 2015, as plunging oil prices dent its efforts to slay inflation, while policymakers decided against fresh easing measures as they wrapped up a two-day policy meeting.

The bank boosted its growth forecasts, however, saying the economy was rebounding, although analysts said the inflation downgrade was likely to boost speculation of further BoJ easing, which would tend to weaken the yen.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

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parvezjabri@yahoo.com (Parvez Jabri) Asia Thu, 22 Jan 2015 05:39:16 +0000