U.S. Dollar Mostly Lower; Sterling Gains
The U.S. dollar was mostly lower Wednesday, with sterling leading the way. Corporate acquisitions, or talk of them at any rate, with the help of the second consecutive rise in the Halifax home price index, and as-expected manufacturing data (up 0.3% in July) helped sterling bounce 2 cents off Tuesday's low to test $1.55 Wednesday before running into offers.
The selling pressure seen on the euro since Monday's move to almost $1.2920 continued, but the momentum appears to be fading and some near-term recovery toward $1.275 seems likely. Japanese officials appear to be stepping up their rhetoric, but the market hasn't blinked, taking the dollar down to new multi-year lows. The JPY84.00-20 area looks like the near-term cap.
Global equity markets were weaker. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index was off 1%. The Nikkei led the regional decline with a 2.2% decline, sparked in part by heightened concern about the impact of the yen's rise on corporate sales and profits. The Philippine index was one of the region's bright spots in the region with a 0.8% rise, led by consumer services and basic materials; we continue to note good foreign demand for Philippine shares.
European bourses were off a little more than 0.75% near midday in London. Financials are leading to the downside amid heightened funding concerns. Capturing the attention Wednesday, the National Bank of Greece announced intentions to raise about $3.6 billion in new capital (Greek financials are off about 4.5% while the overall Athens Stock Exchange was off 2.5%).The heightened concerns that are weighing on European financial shares wereo being felt in the bond market. Ireland and Portugal are paying historic widen premiums over Germany with Wednesday's moves. Greece is paying the most since before the early May European Union/International Monetary Fund package. Portugal's bond auction went off without much fanfare and the spread narrowed a bit. The U.S. Treasury auctions $21 billion of 10-year notes.
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