Daily Afternoon Report 20.01.2016

The dollar remained lower against the other major currencies on Wednesday, after the release of disappointing U.S. economic reports and as concerns over declining oil prices continued to support the safe-haven yen and Swiss franc.

USD/JPY was down 0.73% at 116.74, off one-year lows of 115.98 hit earlier in the day.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that consumer prices fell 0.1% in December, compared to expectations for a flat reading. Year-over-year, consumer prices were 0.7% higher.

Core CPI, which excludes food and energy costs, increased by 0.1%, missing forecasts for a gain of 0.2%.

Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department said that housing starts fell 2.5% to hit 1.149 million units last month from November’s total of 1.179 million units. Analysts had expected a rise of 1.6% to 1.200 million.

Meanwhile, the number of building permits issued declined 3.9% to 1.232 million units from November’s total of 1.289 million. Economists had forecast a drop of 6.4% to 1.200 million units.

The safe-haven yen remained supported as oil prices dropped to the lowest level since 2003 on Wednesday, falling below $28 per barrel after the International Energy Agency said in a report that the supply glut in markets looks set to last until at least late 2016.

The ongoing oil rout continued to weigh on the commodity-related Canadian dollar. USD/CAD was up 0.25% at a fresh 13-year high of 1.4615.

Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that manufacturing sales rose 1.0% in November, beating expectations for an uptick of 0.5%.

Wholesale sales in Canada increased by 1.8% in November, exceeding expectations for a 0.5% rise.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were also weaker, with AUD/USD down 0.69% at 0.6860 and with NZD/USD retreating 0.62% to trade at 0.6374.

Meanwhile, EUR/USD was steady at 1.0906 after rising to highs of 1.0976 earlier in the session.

Elsewhere, the dollar remained lower against the pound and the Swiss franc, with GBP/USD up 0.10% at nearly seven-year lows of 1.4175, and with USD/CHF slipping 0.12% to 1.0021.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.K. Office for National Statistics said the unemployment rate fell to 5.1% in the three months to November, its lowest since the three months to January 2006.

The number of people employed rose by 267,000, the third-biggest increase on record.

Average weekly earnings excluding bonuses, wages rose by 1.9%, compared to expectations of a 1.8% rise. This was the weakest growth since February last year.

Including bonuses, wages rose by 2.0% in the three months to November, missing forecasts for a gain of 2.1% and slowing from 2.4% in the previous three-month period.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.08% at 99.09.