Yen Crumbles Under Towering Dollar And U.S. Treasury Yields

WSJ

The yen was last marginally higher at 153.17 per dollar, languishing near a 34-year trough of 153.32 per dollar hit in the previous session on the back of a surge in U.S. Treasury yields, which the dollar/yen pair tends to closely track.

While the 152 yen level initially proved a strong resistance for the dollar due to fear of an intervention from Japanese authorities, a hot inflation reading out of the United States on Wednesday spurred a broad rally in the greenback, which eventually broke past the key threshold.

“The break of 152 wasn’t really a break, it was more like a blast,” Tony Sycamore, a market analyst at IG. “It’s been pretty impressive.”

“They have to support the yen, it’s in freefall. So there has to be some measures soon. The question is at what level and at what time do they decide to put some money down,” he said, referring to an intervention from Tokyo to shore up the currency.

Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Friday authorities were analysing not just recent yen levels but factors that are driving the currency’s moves, adding to the slew of verbal intervention from authorities in recent weeks in a bid to stem the yen’s decline.

Elsewhere, sterling dipped 0.01 per cent to $1.2553 while the euro last bought $1.0726, pushing some distance away from a two-month low hit in the previous session.

The single currency was on track for a weekly loss of more than 1 per cent, after the ECB on Thursday held interest rates at a record high, as expected, but signalled it could start lowering them as soon as June.

“I think the ECB now are going to be the front runners in terms of rate cuts,” said IG’s Sycamore.

A June cut from the ECB would likely come ahead of the Fed, which is now only widely expected to begin easing rates by September, after a stronger-than-expected reading on U.S. consumer prices sent prospects for a first Fed cut before the end of summer down the drain.

Futures now point to just about 40 basis points worth of easing from the Fed this year, down from roughly 60 bps at the start of the week.

While data on Thursday showed U.S. producer prices increased moderately in March, calming fears of a resurgence in inflation, that did little to stop U.S. Treasury yields from scaling new highs amid a sea change in U.S. rate expectations.

The benchmark 10-year yield was last at 4.5784 per cent, flirting with a five-month peak of 4.5930 per cent hit in the previous session.

The two-year yield, which typically reflects near-term rate expectations, eased slightly to 4.9482 per cent, after pushing above 5 per cent for the first time since November on Thursday.

The renewed dollar strength also weighed on the Australian and New Zealand dollars, which each fell 0.02 per cent.

The Aussie was headed for a weekly decline of about 0.6 per cent, while the kiwi was on track to lose nearly 0.3 per cent for the week.

Against a basket of currencies, the greenback rose 0.01 per cent to 105.28, holding near a five-month top of 105.53 hit in the previous session.

“In our view, it was already difficult to justify near-term policy easing in the context of a U.S. economy that had strong jobs and real GDP growth alongside unemployment below 4 per cent,” said David Doyle, head of economics at Macquarie.

“While FOMC participants had downplayed the upturn in core inflation in January and February, we suspect a third consecutive firm month will cause them to revisit their confidence in its trajectory.

“We now only expect one 25 bps cut in 2024.” – Reuters

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