Japanese yen breaches 150, intervention in focus


The Japanese yen weakened past the key 150 level to the dollar on Thursday, raising the chances of intervention in currency markets by the government and also putting pressure on the Bank of Japan to consider tightening policy.

The yen fell 0.1% to an one-year low of 150.25 against the dollar, as anxiety over an upcoming U.S. GDP reading and a Federal Reserve meeting next week drove steady flows into the greenback.

The move now ramps up the chances of government intervention to support the yen, given that its breach of the 150 level last year had spurred the government into spending as much as $60 billion to fish the currency from 32-year lows.

The yen had also weakened to as low as 150.16 on October 3, before rebounding sharply. The rebound had spurred speculation that the government had intervened in currency markets.

Before October 2022, the last time the yen had breached 150 was in August 1990, during the onset of Japan’s “lost decade.”

But circumstances are different now, with a bulk of the pressure on the yen coming from a growing rift between domestic and U.S. interest rates. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) is the only major central bank to have negative interest rates, given that most other global banks, chiefly the Federal Reserve, hiked rates sharply over the past year to curb a spike in inflation.

This trend saw the yen lose out severely to the dollar, with the currency ranking among the worst performing Asian units this year. The yen has tumbled more than 12% so far in 2023.

The BOJ has largely maintained its dovish stance over the past year, citing the need for more economic support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also maintained its controversial yield curve control mechanism, having intervened in bond markets earlier this month to curb rising yields on Japanese government bonds.

But media reports suggested that the BOJ was now considering an alteration in its yield curve control mechanism, to better match U.S. rates. Such a move could also support the yen.

The central bank is now set to meet next week, although any major changes to its dovish stance appear unlikely. The BOJ meeting also comes just a day before the conclusion of a Federal Reserve meeting.

Source: https://www.investing.com/news/forex-news/japanese-yen-breaches-150-intervention-in-focus-3209345

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