Yen drops to 2-year low against dollar

Updated 27 December 2012
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Yen drops to 2-year low against dollar

NEW YORK/TOKYO: The yen fell to a two-year low against the dollar yesterday after Japan swore in a new prime minister who has called for weakening the currency to stimulate inflation, while US stocks slipped in thin trading.
The dollar rose as high as 85.74 yen on trading platform EBS, the highest since September 2010, following the swearing-in of Shinzo Abe as premier and was last at 85.65. The euro rose as high as 113.40 yen, a 16-month high, up 1.4 percent. The euro was at $1.3223 against the dollar, up 0.3 percent.
Abe is calling for a mix of aggressive monetary policy easing and big fiscal spending to beat deflation and weaken the yen. He is pressuring the Bank of Japan to adopt a 2 percent inflation target that would auger for a weaker currency, threatening changes at the central bank if his wishes are not met.
"The election of Abe has had a galvanizing effect on the dollar/yen exchange rate and he has been able to accomplish more in two months of jawboning than the BoJ has... over the past several years," said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management in New York.
US shares were slightly lower in post-Christmas trading, picking up from losses on Monday, as Congress looks likely to fail to negotiate a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a series of $ 600 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes that would slow the US economy sharply unless lawmakers take action.
US stocks have held in a tight range, recovering losses sustained just after the US election in November. The S&P 500 is still up about 13 percent on the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 53.68 points, or 0.41 percent, at 13,085.40. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 9.13 points, or 0.64 percent, at 1,417.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 27.69 points, or 0.92 percent, at 2,984.91.
Many markets remained closed following Christmas. European exchanges were largely shuttered, and Hong Kong and Australia were also closed. The MSCI All-World Index was down 0.15 percent on Wednesday.
Brent crude climbed above $110 per barrel yesterday, hitting a two-month high, with investors hoping for a last-minute deal to avoid a U.S. fiscal crisis. US crude futures gained $2.30, or 2.6 percent, to $90.91.
The weaker yen has bolstered hopes for better earnings from Japanese companies and underpinned the Nikkei, which has gained about 18 percent since mid-November, when the election was scheduled. The yen has lost nearly 8 percent against the dollar in the same period.
The Nikkei closed at a nine-month high yesterday, with a 1.5 percent gain.
Minutes of the BOJ's policy-setting meeting in November, released yesterday, showed that some board members said the central bank must act decisively, without ruling out any policy options, if the outlook for the economy and prices worsens further.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed. Shanghai shares were flat, but stayed in positive territory on the year after a 2.5 percent jump on Tuesday erased 2012 losses. It is set for a first annual gain in three years.


OPEC oil ministers gather to discuss production increase

Updated 19 June 2018
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OPEC oil ministers gather to discuss production increase

  • Analysts expect the group to discuss an increase in production of about 1 million barrels a day
  • The officials were arriving in Vienna ahead of the official meeting Friday

VIENNA: The oil ministers of the OPEC cartel were gathering Tuesday to discuss this week whether to increase production of crude and help limit a rise in global energy prices.
The officials were arriving in Vienna ahead of the official meeting Friday, when they will also confer with Russia, a non-OPEC country that since late 2016 has cooperated with the cartel to limit production.
Analysts expect the group to discuss an increase in production of about 1 million barrels a day, ending the output cut agreed on in 2016.
The cut has since then pushed up the price of crude oil by about 50 percent. The US benchmark in May hit its highest level in three and half years, at $72.35 a barrel.
Upon arriving, the energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, Suhail Al Mazrouei, said: “It’s going to be hopefully a good meeting. We look forward to having this gathering with OPEC and non-OPEC.”
The 14 countries in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries make more money with higher prices, but are mindful of the fact that more expensive crude can encourage a shift to renewable resources and hurt demand.
“Consumers as well as businesses will be hoping that this week’s OPEC meeting succeeds in keeping a lid on prices, and in so doing calling a halt to a period which has seen a steady rise in fuel costs,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK
The rise in the cost of oil has been a key factor in driving up consumer price inflation in major economies like the US and Europe in recent months.
Already US President Donald Trump has called on OPEC to cut production, tweeting in April and again this month that “OPEC is at it again” by allowing oil prices to rise.
Within OPEC, an increase in output will not affect all countries equally. While Saudi Arabia, the cartel’s biggest producer, is seen to be open to a rise in production, other countries cannot afford to do so. Those include Iran and Venezuela, whose industries are stymied either by international sanctions or domestic turmoil. Iran is a fierce regional rival to Saudi Arabia, meaning the OPEC deal could also influence the geopolitics in the Middle East.