GLOBAL MARKETS-Yen soars on G7 comment; stocks up before Obama

Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:08pm EST

* G7 statement and later remarks roil yen
    * G7 official: Group statement was "misinterpreted"
    * Equities marginally higher ahead of Obama speech
    * Markets shrug off North Korea nuclear test

    By David Gaffen and Wanfeng Zhou
    NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The yen swung wildly on
Tuesday, reversing the previous day's late sell-off against the
dollar and euro after an official with the Group of Seven said
it is worried about excess moves in the Japanese currency. 
    World stock markets edged higher, led by European shares.
The S&P 500 index held near multi-year highs ahead of President
Barack Obama's State of the Union address. 
    The G7, in a statement, urged countries to refrain from
competitive devaluations, saying it remained committed to
"market-determined" exchange rates. This was in reaction to
weeks of concern that the new Japanese government's monetary
easing policy, which has also weakened the yen, could trigger
far-reaching currency wars.
    However, the market interpreted the statement as a sign that
the G7 supported Japan's moves, prompting an official from a G7
nation to say later that the group "is concerned about
unilateral guidance on the yen." 
    The comments - meant to clarify the G7 statement - sparked a
rally in the yen against the dollar and euro. 
    "Having asserted on Sunday evening that G20 would seek to
'calm' markets over talk of currency wars, the first ad-hoc
attempt to do so this morning has been a dismal failure," said
Richard Gilhooly, analyst at TD Securities in New York. "Rather
than calm the markets, the poorly communicated statement has
significantly raised volatility and now we have to wait to see
the actual outcome of G20 on the weekend." 
    The dollar was down 0,9 percent against the yen at 93.47
, having risen to 94.42 yen on Monday, according to
Reuters data, the highest since May, 2010.
    The euro fell 0.5 percent to 125.82 yen, after a 2
percent rally on Monday. 
    The G7 must go into this weekend's G20 meetings forcefully
pressing major emerging economies to adopt flexible foreign
exchange rates, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said on
Tuesday.
    Tokyo is likely to come under serious pressure when G20
finance ministers and central bankers meet in Moscow at the end
of the week, not least because the United States is employing
similar policies.
    Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso welcomed the statement,
saying it recognized Tokyo's policy steps were not "aimed at
influencing currency markets."
    U.S. Treasury official Lael Brainard said on Monday that
while competitive devaluations should be avoided, Washington
supported Tokyo's efforts to reinvigorate growth and end
deflation. 
    MSCI's global share index was up 0.6 percent
at 356.69. European shares gained 0.6 percent to close
at 1161.46, led by UK banks after Britain's third-biggest
lender, Barclays, unveiled cost cuts and a strategic
overhaul.
    Housing stocks led Wall Street higher. The Dow Jones
industrial average gained 66.70 points, or 0.48 percent,
to 14,037.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 4.83
points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,521.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index
 gained 1.65 points, or 0.05 percent, to 3,193.65. 
        
  
    
    STATE OF THE UNION
    The economy will be a major topic of Obama's speech before a
joint session of Congress set for 9 p.m. (0200 GMT Wednesday).
Investors will listen for any clues about a deal with
Republicans to avert automatic spending cuts due to take effect
March 1. 
    Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell 4/32 in
price to yield 1.98 percent, up from 1.96 percent late on
Monday, as investors prepared to absorb $72 billion in new debt
supply this week.
    In European bond markets, Spanish and Italian bonds inched
up as domestic buyers took advantage of a recent sell-off. But
the recovery looked fragile, given political uncertainty in both
countries.
    The euro rose 0.4 percent to $1.3457, accelerating
gains after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said
there is no such thing as a currency war and that Spain was on
the right track toward economic recovery. 
    Oil prices rose as OPEC said world oil demand will grow
faster than previously thought this year. Brent oil rose
18 cents to $118.31 a barrel and U.S. crude was up 54
cents to $97.57 a barrel.
    Spot gold clawed back from its lowest in over a month
and was last at $1,648 an ounce.
    Financial markets showed a muted reaction to news that North
Korea has conducted a nuclear test and said it would never bow
to U.N. resolutions.
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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