Stocks retreat, as yen hits 20-year dollar low

A Japan Yen note is seen in this illustration photo taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS-Thomas White-Illustration

Major stock markets mostly retreated Tuesday, while the yen struck a fresh 20-year low against the dollar.

While investors worry over decades-high inflation, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) has decided against hiking interest rates to combat surging prices, weighing on the country’s currency.

The yen also hit a seven-year low against the euro, with the single currency benefitting from expectations that the European Central Bank will soon embark on its own rate-tightening.

“The BoJ stands out among its global peers in not tightening policy, which is leading to a widening interest rate differential as other central banks continue hiking,” noted Deutsche Bank analyst Jim Reid.

Sydney’s stock market closed down more than one percent Tuesday after the Australian central bank announced a bigger-than-forecast rate hike to quell inflation.

London equities steadied approaching the half-way stage after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote of no confidence from his own Conservative MPs.

The pound — seen as a better indicator of UK economic health and political stability — dropped versus the dollar and euro.

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“Although the leader came out victorious, the triggering of the confidence vote itself along with the fact that 41 percent of Tory MPs failed to back him are both politically corrosive, leaving the prime minister wounded,” noted Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

“History suggests that this could mark the beginning of the end of his time as prime minister.”

The vote on Johnson was brought after a string of scandals that have left the Tory party’s standing in tatters.

Chief among them was the “Partygate” controversy over Covid lockdown-breaking events at Downing Street that caused public outrage and saw him become the first serving UK prime minister to have broken the law.

The government is under pressure also over its handling of a cost-of-living crisis in the UK after the country’s inflation rate soared to the highest level in four decades.

An easing of Covid lockdown measures in China is helping to offset some of the worries over inflation, which is being fuelled by high oil prices following the invasion of Ukraine by key crude producer Russia.

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– Key figures at around 1030 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,609.50 points

Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.9 percent at 14,517.59

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,496.82

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.9 percent at 3,803.78

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 27,943.95 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.6 percent at 21,531.67 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,241.76 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 0.1 percent to 32,915.78 (close)

Dollar/yen: UP at 132.69 yen from 131.88 yen late Monday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0681 from $1.0699

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2514 from $1.2528

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.35 pence from 85.37 pence

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $119.35 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.3 percent at $118.19 per barrel

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