Rock bottom just keeps getting lower and lower. Japan's steady descent toward recession has been a long-term process by this point, punctuated by moments of hope for recovery, but early session events today sent the Japanese economy into new miseries.
The combination of the
Japanese stock average reaching 15-year lows in intraday trading and the
Bank of Japan's
surprise cut of overnight interest rates sent the yen tumbling today. The rate cut -- to 0.15% from 0.25% in the key money market rate, and a lowering of its symbolic discount rate -- came in response to mounting evidence of a weakening economy, according to
. Weakening, indeed.
"Money just flowed straight out of Japan, and given yesterday's pretty nasty consumer confidence data out of the U.S., it flowed straight into Europe," said Lara Rhame, economist at
Brown Brothers Harriman
. "Euro/yen was very much in play in the overnight."
Yesterday's data out of the U.S. reported weak consumer confidence levels and weaker-than-expected durable goods orders. Data out of the euro zone was much more positive inciting expectations that the euro zone economy will remain robust despite the economic slowdown in the United States. "The lower-than-expected price
inflation data was the most euro positive today," Rhame said, noting though that there was "some soft looking output numbers" too.
On the strong money flows out of Japan and into Europe, the European single-currency has made strong gains to 108.49 yen per euro, up from yesterday's close of 106.56 yen.
The euro strength against the yen is carrying over into trading of euro/dollar, pushing the euro up to a recent price of $0.9225. The euro closed trading yesterday at $0.9174.
In the third leg of this love/hate triangle, the dollar is firming on the yen, as the markets acknowledge once again that though the U.S. economy might be in a slump, it is nowhere near the misery that Japan is experiencing. The dollar was recently trading at 117.36 yen per dollar, up over a full yen from where it closed yesterday, at 116.16 yen.
Alan Greenspan is slated to give the second part of his testimony to the
House Finance Committee
, once known as the
testimony, later today. "It will have quite a big effect," on the dollar, Rhame opined, noting that the dollar was stronger after the first part of his speech on February 13.
"I think that he'll be somewhat dollar supportive, because he'll still be positive
on an economic rebound," Rhame said, "but he has to address the change in recent inflation numbers."
Per usual, the British pound is tracking the euro higher on the expectations of the European economy remaining stronger than the U.S. economy. The pound was recently trading for $1.4479, up from yesterday's close of $1.4425.
The Australian dollar is also gaining on the U.S. currency, also likely feeding off of the upward movement in the euro. The Aussie buck was most recently at $0.5264, up slightly from $0.5255 at Tuesday's close.
The U.S. currency was virtually unchanged against its northerly neighbor's recently, as the U.S. dollar was trading for C$1.5296, barely off of yesterday's close of C$1.5295.