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Repeated warnings from Tokyo appear to support Japanese yen vs. strong USD

 

Dollar strength post-CPI pressures Japanese yen 

The dollar's strength continued to pressure the yen this week, with the U.S. currency reaching its highest level since the mid-1990s on Friday at 153.39 JPY before retracting to 152.93, marking a drop of 0.23%. 

Friday’s dynamics mark a close to 1% weekly decline for the Japanese currency, which has depreciated by over 8% since the start of the year — largely due to the interest rate differential between Japan and the United States. 

The threat of currency intervention by Tokyo officials appeared to keep the Japanese yen steadier than other currencies on Friday, after Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said:  

"If there are excessive moves, we will respond appropriately without ruling out any options." 

"I can't comment specifically on recent currency moves. But it's important for exchange rates to move stably reflecting fundamentals. Excessive volatility is undesirable," Suzuki added. 

The official said that currency moves might be a topic of discussion among finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies during their meeting in Washington D.C. next week, coinciding with the spring gatherings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

Suzuki acknowledged the mixed impact of a weaker yen on Japan's economy, noting its potential to raise inflation and have a negative impact on consumers. 

 

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Finance Minister Suzuki stops short of “decisive action” threats 

Despite closely monitoring the yen's movements with Masato Kanda, Japan's chief currency diplomat, Suzuki refrained from indicating whether market intervention was being planned to support the yen. He also stopped short of repeating his previous threats of "decisive action" against rapid declines in the Japanese yen's value — language he used before Tokyo’s last currency intervention in 2022. 

Tsuyoshi Ueno, senior economist at NLI Research Institute, told Reuters that the best-case scenario for the Japanese authorities was to keep the market on alert for actual intervention to deter the yen from depreciating further. 

 "If you keep saying taking 'decisive' action, it will lose its effectiveness," Ueno said. "There is a risk of causing friction when intervening, and it is not possible to intervene indefinitely." 

 

Interest rate differential between U.S. and Japan boosts dollar 

Suzuki recently admitted the difficulty in pinpointing a single cause for the yen's weakness, attributing it to various factors — including changes in monetary policy and market speculation.  

"In usual thinking, narrowing interest rate gaps would lead to a stronger yen", Suzuki said when asked by an opposition lawmaker regarding the Bank of Japan’s March decision to step away from its ultra-loose monetary policy, hiking rates for the first time in 17 years. 

The widening interest rate differential between the U.S. and Japan has led to the dollar's continued rise, with expectations of a Federal Reserve rate cut being pushed back from June to September after the hotter-than-expected CPI report showed sticky year-on-year inflation in the U.S. 

Recent warnings from Tokyo about potential interventions to address the Japanese yen's volatility have reignited fears of market interference — especially after the dollar reached a new 34-year high against the yen. 

Analysts believe that Japanese authorities may not feel the immediate need to intervene with the upcoming G20 meeting — especially since the yen's value has remained relatively stable as of late. 

 

Reuters poll shows economists expect Bank of Japan to shift policy in April

 

Japanese yen’s slide puts Bank of Japan in difficult position 

The depreciating yen presents challenges for Japan, increasing the cost of imports like fuel and raw materials, impacting both retailers and households. Household spending has declined for twelve consecutive months as many consumers have yet to see wage growth exceed the pace of inflation. 

A poll released on Wednesday by the Japan Center for Economic Research, a think tank, showed analysts expect Japan's economy to contract an annualised 0.54% in the first quarter due to weak consumption and output, before rebounding by 1.69%. 

The Bank of Japan faces complicated decisions regarding the timing of potential interest rate hikes, with expectations leaning towards later this year. 

BOJ Governor Kazuo Ueda told parliament on Wednesday that while the central bank's monetary policy would not directly react to currency fluctuations, it could respond if yen moves have a big impact on the economy and prices.  

Tokyo last intervened in currency markets in 2022, first in September and again in October, aiming to prop up the Japanese yen. 

 


When considering shares, indices, forex (foreign exchange) and commodities for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant degree of risk and could result in capital loss. 

Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be construed to be investment advice. 

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