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Dollar Mixed as Nerves Grip Market

The U.S. dollar is narrowly mixed Wednesday as a nervous pall hangs over the market.

The European debt crisis remains front and center and the euro has been unable to resurface above the $1.30 level Wednesday after it gave way in North America Tuesday. Like Tuesday, the Swiss National Bank seems determined that the flight to safety doesn't trigger franc appreciation.

Sterling has been aided by demand against the euro. The euro broke below 0.8600 pounds Tuesday and has been unable to recapture that level, while cable has been largely confined to a $1.5100-$1.5200 trading range for the past 24 hours.

The 95.00 yen level remains intact, but the yen's ability to draw much safe haven demand may be limited by concern about Japan's own debt rating and tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Global equity markets were under pressure Wednesday. Japanese markets were closed. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index, ex-Japan, slumped nearly 2% as all 10 industries represented fell. Of note, China's Shanghai index managed to buck the trend to post a 0.77% rise.

European bourses were lower, but the losses were more modest than Tuesday. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 was off about 0.4% near midday in London, with basic materials and oil and gas turning higher, but other sectors led by consumer services and financials lower.

U.S. shares were also stabilizing after Tuesday's slide.

It is in the debt markets where the European strains are still being felt. Southern European bond markets remain under pressure and the flipside is there is strong demand being seen for German bunds. The Germany two-year yield is at a new low of about 63 basis points, while the 10-year yield of 2.91% is near a 14-month low. That said, the Portugal six-month bill auction was adequately absorbed with an almost 2:1 bid-cover ratio.

The U.S. 10-year yield is trading near two-month lows, despite the recent string of stronger-than-expected economic data.

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