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Dollar Back To Nearly Unchanged After Weak Housing Starts

Dollar Back To Nearly Unchanged After Weak Housing Starts
12/19/2012 12:22 PM ET

The dollar has rebounded from its early weakness against its major European competitors on Wednesday, back to nearly unchanged for the day. The dollar's early gains against the Japanese Yen have also been nearly completely erased. The reversal in direction coincided with the release of the weaker than anticipated housing start data.

Housing starts in the U.S. came in below economist estimates in the month of November, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, although the report also showed a notable increase in building permits.

The report said housing starts fell 3.0 percent to an annual rate of 861,000 in November from the revised October estimate of 888,000. Economists had been expecting housing starts to fall to 865,000 from the 894,000 originally reported for October.

Investors remain optimistic that a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff can be reached before the end of the year, as negotiations continue between Democrats and Republicans. The White House threatened to veto the 'Plan B' that was presented by House Speaker John Boehner. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had already said that Boehner's plan could not pass the Senate. Plan B would extend tax cuts for people making up to $1 million.

Standard and Poor's upgraded Greece's credit rating on Tuesday from 'selective default' (SD), citing the successful completion of the country's debt buyback program and the subsequent decision by European leaders to disburse loan installment.

Greece's long and short-term foreign as well as local currency sovereign credit ratings were lifted to 'B-' from 'SD'. Further, the ratings on all the outstanding issues, including those guaranteed by Greece, were upgraded to 'B-/B'. The outlook is 'stable'.

The dollar fell to an 8 1/2 month low of $1.3307 against the Euro Wednesday morning, but has since bounced back to around $1.3240.

Eurozone's current account surplus increased in October, but was lower than expected by economists, a report from the European Central Bank showed Wednesday. The seasonally adjusted current account surplus rose to EUR 3.9 billion in October from EUR 2.4 billion in September. Economists expected the surplus to rise to EUR 6.5 billion.

Euro area construction output in October declined at a faster annual rate again, data released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, revealed on Wednesday.

Construction output fell further by a seasonally adjusted 4.1 percent year-on-year in October, after recording a decline of 3.8 percent in September, which was revised from 2.6 percent reported earlier. In August, output decreased 1.5 percent.

German business confidence improved for the second straight month in December as expectations for next six months counteracted the deterioration in current assessment, survey results from the Ifo Institute showed Friday.

Surpassing economists' expectations, the headline business climate index rose to a five-month high of 102.4 from 101.4 in November. The reading was forecast to climb to 102.

Germany's leading economic indicator remained unchanged in October, ending the downward trend started in March, data from a survey by the Conference Board showed Wednesday. The leading economic index remained unchanged at 101.6 in October after dropping 0.6 percent in the previous month.

Bank of England policymakers voted 8-1 to leave the stimulus programme unchanged at GBP 375 billion as seen in November, the minutes of the latest monetary policy meeting showed Wednesday.

David Miles was the only member to call for more quantitative easing. According to minutes, the Monetary Policy Committee members said the current size of the asset purchase programme seemed appropriate for the present.

Further, the nine-member MPC unanimously decided to hold the key interest rate at a record low 0.50 percent. The meeting was held on December 5 and 6.

The buck dropped to a 3-month low of $1.6306 against the pound sterling Wednesday, but has since rebounded to around $1.6265.

The greenback climbed to an 8-month high of Y84.606 against the Japanese Yen Wednesday, but has since eased back to around Y84.325.

Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 953.4 billion yen in November, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday - down 37.9 percent on year while continuing to reflect slowing exports to China in a territorial island dispute.

Sinking into the red for the fifth straight month and 12th in the last 14, the headline figure beat forecasts for a shortfall of 1,035.1 billion yen following the downwardly revised deficit of 551.1 billion in October (originally 549.0 billion yen).

Exports were down 4.1 percent on year to 4.983 trillion yen, also beating forecasts for a 5.5 percent decline following the 6.5 percent contraction in the previous month.

Japan's all industry activity increased in October, partly reversing previous month's decline, data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed Wednesday.

The all industry activity index rose 0.2 percent month-on-month following 0.4 percent fall in September. The improvement was largely driven by a pickup in industrial production and higher activity in government services. Japan's leading index rose more than previously estimated in October, final data from the Cabinet Office showed Wednesday.

As per the revised data, the leading index, designed to measure the direction of the economy in the months ahead, was at 92.8 in October compared to 92.5 in the preliminary report. In September, the index was at 91.8.

by RTT Staff Writer

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