The focus remains on Japan again today -- is anyone surprised?

In a move regarded as largely symbolic, the

Bank of Japan

cut its official discount rate this morning by 0.15% to 0.35%. This is the first time the BOJ has lowered the discount rate in six years.

The discount rate in most countries is at the bottom of official interest rates, thereby allowing banks to reduce their own rates whenever the discount rate is lowered. But in an odd set of circumstances in Japan, the discount rate is not the lowest official rate, so banks are not able to shift their rates in any way as a result of today's move. The cut this morning is therefore regarded as largely symbolic, rather than as a maneuver to stimulate the ailing economy.

One hope for economic recuperation as a result of the cut is the slim belief that the lowered rate may boost the

Nikkei

, the Japanese stock market, and as a result force more repatriation of yen, according to

Reuters

. As we near the end of the Japanese fiscal year, large Japanese corporations are converting their holdings back into yen for accounting purposes, thereby increasing the demand for yen and pushing the currency's value up. A rise in the market value of the companies would increase their need for yen.

After a short burst upward in the value of the yen as a result of the cut, it has since fallen significantly against both the dollar and the euro on continuing worries about the state of Japan's economy and the lack of rejuvenation attempts to date. The dollar was recently floating near two-week highs against the yen, trading for 117.40 yen, up from yesterday's close of 116.65.

The euro is also making strong gains on the yen, trading at 108.25 most recently, up from 107.05 at the close of trading yesterday.

Largely as a result of the euro's stronger gains on the yen than the dollar's gains on the yen today, the euro is firming against the dollar. Helping to push the euro higher was a comment out of Greece this morning denying that the

Greek Central Bank

was selling off billions of euros in recent days to shift the constituency of its foreign reserves. The euro was recently trading for $0.9228, up from yesterday's closing price of $0.9187.

The British pound is following the euro up slightly today, gaining marginally on the dollar to $1.4452 from $1.4436 at yesterday's close.

The U.S. currency is also losing out to the Australian dollar and the Canadian dollar this morning. The Aussie buck is up slightly to $0.5371 from its last close Thursday of $0.5350. The U.S. dollar is falling against the Canadian currency, possibly on the confirmation that had been no

ebola virus

outbreak in Canada. The U.S. dollar was most recently at C$1.5094, down just barely from C$1.5100 yesterday.

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