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Japanese yen fragile, USDJPY nears 160 amid intervention talk

Published 2024/06/24, 02:24
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Investing.com-- The Japanese yen was fragile on Monday, with the USDJPY pair nearing key intervention levels even as government officials reiterated warnings that they would step in to support the currency.

The USDJPY pair, which gauges the number of yen required to buy one dollar, rose slightly on Monday to 159.93 yen. The pair was close to reaching 160 yen, which was its highest level in over 30 years, and had sparked intervention by the government in May. 

Government intervention in May saw the USDJPY pair fall as low as 151. But a mix of weak economic readings, particularly inflation, as well as dovish signals from the Bank of Japan saw the yen swiftly reverse course. 

The yen’s latest decline was driven by somewhat dovish signals from the BOJ at its June meeting. The central bank kept interest rates unchanged and said it had no immediate plans to tighten policy further, and that a decision on cutting back its bond purchases will only be made in July.

The move disappointed traders who were positioning for a more hawkish BOJ, especially as the bank warned that excessive weakness in the yen could see it hike interest rates.

The minutes of the BOJ meeting, released on Monday, reiterated this notion. 

The minutes also showed that the BOJ was ready to hike rates further if the economy picked up pace this year. But data so far has painted a middling picture of the Japanese economy, which contracted in the first quarter of 2024. 

The BOJ had hiked rates for the first time in 17 years in March, bringing them out of negative territory after nearly a decade. But the move provided little support to the yen, which remained under pressure from a wide gulf between U.S. and Japanese interest rates. 

Yen intervention threats continue

Recent weakness in the yen came even as Japanese government officials kept up warnings over potential intervention.

Top currency diplomat Masato Kanda reiterated his warning that he will instruct the BOJ to intervene in markets in the event of “excessive” moves in foreign exchange markets. But he did not comment on whether recent moves in the yen were excessive. 

Kanda said he stood ready to “intervene 24 hours a day if necessary.” 

Kanda had spearheaded past intervention by the government, especially a record amount of dollar selling in 2022. 

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