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Japanese Yen Steady as Markets Calm at Start of Week

USD/JPY is showing limited movement in the Monday session. In the North American session, the pair is trading at 110.58, up 0.11% on the day. On the release front, Japanese Core Machinery Orders declined 0.1% in December, above the estimate of -1.1%. In December, the indicator was flat at 0.0%. In the U.S., banks are closed for a holiday and there are no U.S. events.

The Japanese manufacturing sector continues to struggle. Core Machinery Orders declined in December, following a flat 0.0% performance in November. The slowdown of China’s economy is chiefly to blame for a drop in Japan’s exports and manufacturing activity. Japanese exports of car parts and electronics to China are particularly vulnerable to the slowdown in China. There was positive news last week, as Japan’s economy grew 0.3% in the fourth quarter, after a decline of 0.6% in the third quarter. Business and consumer spending improved, helping the economy expand. Exports rose 0.9% in Q4, the strongest growth in a year. However, if the global trade war continues, Japanese growth could dramatically fall.

There are concerns about the strength of the U.S. economy, after soft consumer data in January. Retail sales and core retail sales showed sharp contraction, and these numbers came on the heels of soft inflation indicators. Inflation remains low, despite a strong labor market. CPI showed no change in January and has failed to post a gain since November. Core CPI has recorded weak gains of 0.2% for four successive months. On an annualized basis, CPI gained 1.6% in January, the weakest year-over-year gain since mid-2017. The soft inflation numbers were a result of low energy prices, which fell 3.1% in January as oil prices remain under pressure.

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