Yen logged some noticeable losses after a batch of disappointing data from Japan which are likely to pressure the Bank of Japan to expand its stimulus package or cut interest rates deeper into negative territory. Japan's Average Cash Earnings, or wages growth, rose just 0.1% in December year-on-year, compared with expectations of a 0.7% growth, and a bellwether of persistently weak inflation and spending by households.
Another survey tracking the "Economy Watchers Sentiment" slumped in January to 46.6, down from December's 48.7, and far from the forecasts of 48.5. A reading below 50.0 indicates pessimism. Yen tumbled almost half a percent against the dollar to 117.39, limping away from a two-week high hit on Friday at 116.29. Euro advanced 0.33% versus the Japanese currency to 130.79, while sterling jumped 0.70% to 170.44.
The slide in yen's value cheered exporters as it makes them more competitive abroad, with Japan's Nikkei erasing earlier losses and jumping 1.08% to 17,008. Other Asian shares were largely flat, affected by the week-long holiday in China, which thinned trading. Australian shares traded at 4,975, while Korea's KOSPI gained 0.08% to 1,917.
Wall Street closed sharply lower on Friday, after new jobs slowed down unexpectedly in January to 151,000, compared to forecasts of 190,000. The NASDAQ Composite led the decliners, pummeled by weak earnings forecasts for tech companies, with the index tanking 146 points, or 3.25% to 4,363.
Other U.S. stock indices registered more contained losses by still heavy, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average giving up 211 points, or 1.29% to close at 16,204. Standard and Poor's 500 fell 35 points, or 1.85% to end at 1,880.
Oil prices gained some ground on hopes of cooperation between major oil producers to cut production volumes, as mentioned from the recent meeting between Saudi's oil ministry and his Venezuelan counterpart. Brent crude futures rose 30 cents, or 0.85% to $34.34 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures gained 25 cents, or 0.80% to trade at $31.13 a barrel.
Investors wait for a basket of data today, with German industrial production expected to have grown 0.2% m/m in December, compared to November's 0.3% drop, which would be positive for the euro.
For the whole of the Eurozone, the Sentix Investor Confidence survey is forecast at 7.2 for February, easing from January's 9.6, but still far from 0.0, which separates optimism from pessimism.