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Asia FX muted as Fed fears persist, yen rises amid intervention watch

Published 2023/09/28, 06:06
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Investing.com-- Most Asian currencies moved little on Thursday amid persistent concerns over hawkish signals from the Federal Reserve, while the Japanese yen rose slightly as markets watched for any intervention in currency markets by the government. 

The dollar remained perched at 10-month highs, with the dollar index and dollar index futures moving little in Asian trade. But most regional currencies remained weak against the greenback, after the Fed signaled that it will keep U.S. interest rates higher for longer. 

Japanese yen rises slightly from 10-mth low, intervention in focus 

The Japanese yen rose 0.2%, recovering slightly from a 10-month low. The currency was now spitting distance from  the 150 level to the dollar- a milestone that some traders believe will trigger intervention by the government.

Persistent weakness in the yen drew several warnings from Japanese government officials over betting against the yen. The currency was battered by a growing gap between local and U.S. yields, following hawkish signals from the Fed. 

An ultra-dovish outlook from the Bank of Japan was also a key driver of the yen’s recent weakness, after the central bank last week said it had no immediate plans to lift rates from negative levels. 

The Japanese government had sold record levels of dollars in late-2022 to fish the yen from over 30-year lows. But since then, U.S. interest rates have risen further, pointing to more pressure on the yen. The currency is also expected to retest 30-year lows if it breaks above 150. 

Markets were also awaiting key Japanese inflation data, due on Friday. 

Broader Asian currencies moved in a flat-to-low range. The Indian rupee rose slightly, but remained close to record lows amid pressure from a recent spike in oil prices.

Australia’s dollar rose 0.3%, recovering from a 11-month low even as data showed retail sales grew less than expected in August. 

Chinese yuan sees few pre-holiday bids, PBOC intervention also in focus 

The Chinese yuan moved little in onshore trade on Thursday, ahead of the week-long Autumn festival holiday.

While a series of strong daily midpoint fixes from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) supported the yuan, its outlook remained largely negative, amid persistent concerns over an economic slowdown in China. The PBOC was also seen instructing state banks to sell dollars and support the yuan this week.

Renewed ructions in China’s property market- after media reports highlighted more government scrutiny against embattled developer China Evergrande Group (HK:3333)- also weighed on the yuan in recent sessions. 

Still, positive data pushed up some hopes of an economic recovery in China. Data on Wednesday showed Chinese industrial profits rebounded in August after a year-long slump.

The Autumn festival holiday is also expected to boost consumer spending, while purchasing managers’ index due later this week is expected to show some improvement in manufacturing activity.

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