February 18, 2016 / 9:40 AM / 3 years ago

Yen gains vs euro, dollar as oil, stocks falter anew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The yen rose sharply against the euro and dollar on Friday after yet another downbeat session for oil prices and stock markets worldwide, underscoring worries about global growth.

South Korean won, Chinese yuan and Japanese yen notes are seen on U.S. 100 dollar notes in this picture illustration taken in Seoul, South Korea, December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

The dollar fell overall, with the higher than-expected U.S. inflation data for January having limited impact. Analysts said declining oil and equities took the shine out of the dollar.

U.S. data this week has been generally positive, however, helping the dollar index .DXY post its best weekly performance in about two months.

The index was last down 0.3 percent on the day at 96.64.

Sterling climbed against the dollar on Friday after France’s President Francois Hollande expressed hope that EU leaders would reach a deal to help Britain stay in the bloc at a summit in Brussels.

But the focus remained squarely on oil and equities, two assets that have struggled this year.

“With stock market fluctuations having recently followed crude oil prices closely, the Japanese yen continued to benefit from its safe haven status when equity markets fall,” said Matt Weller, senior market analyst at FOREX.com, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Though equities have recovered some of the losses from earlier in the month, any major return of market volatility may likely boost the yen even further.”

On Friday, the Japanese currency hit a 2-1/2-year high against the euro, which was last down 0.4 percent at 125.32 yen EURJPY=.

Against the dollar, the yen rose to a one-week high. The dollar last traded at 112.59 yen, down 0.6 percent JPY=.

The euro rose against the dollar, trading up 0.2 percent at $1.1018. However, it still posted its worst weekly loss against the dollar since the third week of November.

Thursday’s minutes of the European Central Bank’s January meeting had the market again looking for more weakness in the euro against the dollar ahead of a March meeting now widely expected to deliver further policy easing.

“The minutes cemented expectations for stronger stimulus next month, growth-positive measures that are euro-negative as they aim to lower lending rates, harming the single currency’s appeal,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.

ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said at a Reuters Newsmaker event on Friday, however, that the central bank had not yet committed to any decision for its next meeting on March 10 but might act if it determines a recovery in inflation is getting pushed back further into the future.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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