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LONDON: Europe’s main stock markets mostly fell yesterday after a weekend meeting of the Group of 20 leading economies ended with Japan being spared an accusation of unfairly devaluing its currency.
London’s FTSE 100 index of leading companies slid 0.16 percent to 6,318.19 points, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 rose 0.46 percent to 7,628.73 points Paris’ CAC 40 added 0.18 percent to 3,667.04 points. Milan’s FTSE Mib fell 0.51 percent to 16,406 points and Madrid’s IBEX 35 also dropped 0.51 percent, to end the day at 8,108.9 points.
“Equity indices have traded marginally lower through the session as traders take pause for thought with US markets closed for the President’s Day public holiday,” said CMC Markets trader Matt Basi.
In foreign exchange deals, the yen resumed its downward trend as dealers welcomed the end of the G20 talks in Moscow, which came amid concerns that Japan’s new aggressive monetary policy could spark a currency war.
The dollar rose to 93.95 yen from 93.53 yen on Friday, while the euro rose to 125.43 yen from 124.97 yen on Friday. Meanwhile the euro dipped to $1.353 from $1.3360. Gold prices dipped to $1,610.75 an ounce from $1,612.25 on the London Bullion Market.
“As suspected the weekend G20 statement on currencies proved to be every bit as bland as markets expected it might be,” said Michael Hewson, senior analyst at trading group CMC Markets. “The statement urged countries to refrain from competitive devaluations, and instead focus on measures to boost growth and price stability.”
The G20 finance ministers’ statement issued on Saturday said: “We will refrain from competitive devaluation,” adding “we will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes”. The pledge echoed a recent statement by the G7 richest nations. Neither named Tokyo as a currency manipulator.
The Bank of Japan, under pressure from the country’s new conservative government, unveiled a plan for unlimited monetary easing last month and a target for two percent inflation as part of a bid to beat lingering deflation.
However, the moves sparked charges of manipulation, particularly in Europe, with some warning of a currency war in which nations weaken their units in a bid to boost exports. The Japanese unit has lost about 17 percent against the dollar and 25 percent against the euro since November.
National Australia Bank said the yen’s return to a weakening trend—after rising before the G20 talks—signalled “exchange rate shifts arising from appropriate domestic monetary and fiscal policies will not be criticised or challenged”.
“But direct reference to currencies as a policy objective will be,” it added. “We believe this means the yen is free to weaken, but Japanese officials must refrain from being seen to be goading the yen to weaker levels.”
On the corporate front Monday, shares in mining company Anglo American fell 2.75 percent to 1,983 pence after 13 people were wounded in gunfire and machete attacks outside one of its facilities in South Africa.
In France, shares in Natixis bank leapt by nearly a quarter in yesterday’s trading after an announcement that a change in the bank’s links to parent bank BPCE would generate an exceptional dividend.
Banking group BPCE which comprises the Caisses d’Epargne group of savings banks and the Banques Populaires, and its subsidiary Natixis said on Sunday that they would simplify their cross-shareholdings.
Asian stock markets closed mixed, with Tokyo surging thanks to the weakening yen. Tokyo climbed 2.09 percent and Sydney added 0.59 percent, while Seoul closed flat.