Euro extends gains, yen pressured

The EUR found another spurt of life following the release of the stronger than expected February German IFO business confidence survey yesterday. The data helped make up for the disappointment related to the manufacturing and service sector surveys. However, while it may have alleviated concerns about weakening growth in Germany it only serves to highlight the disparities in growth across the Eurozone.

I continue to believe the EUR may struggle to sustain gains. In the near term, after breaking above 1.3320 resistance, EUR/USD will face further resistance around 1.3460. Nonetheless, my 2012 year end forecast of EUR/USD 1.26 shows that despite growing growth pressures in the Eurozone economy the EUR will still find underlying support from a healthy external balance and continued EUR buying from Asian official investors.

Over the near term upcoming votes in various countries on the second Greek bailout deal will provoke some nervousness while Greek reform implementation risks will also act to dampen EUR sentiment.

JPY has faced significant degree of pressure since the beginning of February. As noted previously one of the biggest sources of upward pressure on USD/JPY has been the widening in US – Japan 2-year bond yield differentials. US bonds currently yield around 19 basis points above Japan, the highest gap since August 2011. The widening yield gap already appears to be prompting foreign outflows from Japanese bonds, with outflows registered in six of the seven past weeks. These outflows have helped contribute to the weakness in the JPY.

The fact that the BoJ will step up its purchases of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) will also add to the downward pressure on the JPY as it will mean a further widening in US – Japanese yield differentials. Over the short term USD/JPY may face some resistance above the 80 level and I suspect that it will lose some momentum but maintain my view that it will reach 85.0 by the end of the year.

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