May 15, 2019 / 1:37 PM / in 2 months

FOREX-Weak Chinese data bolsters safe-haven currencies

 (New throughout, updates trading and comments to U.S. market
open, new byline, changes dateline, previous LONDON)
    By Karen Brettell
    NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - Safe-haven currencies, the
Japanese yen and Swiss franc, gained on Wednesday after weak
economic data in China raised new concerns about growth in the
country.
    China reported surprisingly weaker growth in retail sales
and industrial output for April, adding pressure on Beijing to
roll out more monetary stimulus as a trade war with the United
States escalates.
    “The Chinese data is the big market driver today,” said Erik
Nelson, a currency strategist at Wells Fargo in New York. “This
data preceded the latest round of tariffs, so that’s a bit
worrying that even before this flared up we saw some weakness.”
    The greenback also benefited from its safe-haven status even
as the United States and China remain locked in a trade war.
    President Donald Trump threatened higher tariffs on billions
of dollars of Chinese imports last week, and Beijing responded
with planned tariff hikes of its own on Monday.
    The euro weakened as Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister
Matteo Salvini criticized European Union rules for the second
day.
    "If there are European rules that are starving a continent,
these rules must be changed," Salvini said on Wednesday, a day
after he said the government was ready to breach EU rules that
seek to limit budget deficits and curb excessive
debt.
    “There are definitely concerns heading into the European
elections next week that there could be some more rhetoric
against the EU,” Nelson said.
    Weakening in the single currency came despite data showing
that Germany’s economy returned to growth in the March quarter
as householders spent more freely and construction activity
picked up.
    The greenback briefly dipped against the euro after data
showed that U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in April as
households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and a range
of other goods.
    The Aussie dollar dropped to its lowest level since
Jan. 3 when a flash crash in the foreign exchange markets rocked
major currencies.
    The Aussie is often seen as a proxy for Chinese growth
because of Australia's export-reliant economy and China being
the country's main destination for its commodities.
    Domestic data added to the woes, with the pace of growth in
Australian wages stagnating.
    Sterling dropped to its lowest since Feb. 15 amid
continuing worry over Britain’s exit from the European Union.
    There is an under-appreciation of the risk Britain could
leave the European Union without a deal later this year, Brexit
minister Stephen Barclay said on Wednesday.
    
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    Currency bid prices at 9:13AM (1313 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct     High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                 
                                              Session                                           
 Euro/Dollar      EUR=        $1.1182        $1.1203     -0.19%         -2.50%      +1.1221     +1.1178
 Dollar/Yen       JPY=        109.2800       109.5900    -0.28%         -0.89%      +109.7000   +109.1900
 Euro/Yen         EURJPY=     122.21         122.79      -0.47%         -3.18%      +122.9900   +122.1000
 Dollar/Swiss     CHF=        1.0078         1.0085      -0.07%         +2.69%      +1.0091     +1.0056
 Sterling/Dollar  GBP=        1.2855         1.2904      -0.38%         +0.77%      +1.2922     +1.2853
 Dollar/Canadian  CAD=        1.3475         1.3459      +0.12%         -1.19%      +1.3493     +1.3456
 Australian/Doll  AUD=        0.6919         0.6941      -0.32%         -1.84%      +0.6947     +0.6915
 ar                                                                                             
 Euro/Swiss       EURCHF=     1.1272         1.1301      -0.26%         +0.16%      +1.1311     +1.1265
 Euro/Sterling    EURGBP=     0.8698         0.8680      +0.21%         -3.18%      +0.8700     +0.8669
 NZ               NZD=        0.6556         0.6574      -0.27%         -2.40%      +0.6577     +0.6551
 Dollar/Dollar                                                                                  
 Dollar/Norway    NOK=        8.7529         8.7442      +0.10%         +1.32%      +8.7628     +8.7310
 Euro/Norway      EURNOK=     9.7891         9.7983      -0.09%         -1.18%      +9.8186     +9.7869
 Dollar/Sweden    SEK=        9.6283         9.6022      +0.06%         +7.42%      +9.6383     +9.5957
 Euro/Sweden      EURSEK=     10.7680        10.7615     +0.06%         +4.91%      +10.7822    +10.7571
  
    

 (Additional reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan and Saikat
Chatterjee in London; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
  
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