Updated December 19th, 2023 at 10:01 IST

Yen slides after Bank of Japan stands pat on ultra-loose policy

The yen fell over 0.6 per cent against the US dollar to a session-low of 143.75 following the decision

Reported by: Business Desk
Japan | Image:Pexels

The yen fell broadly on Tuesday after the Bank of Japan (BOJ) kept its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged, and maintained its forward guidance in a closely awaited decision.

The yen fell over 0.6 per cent against the US dollar to a session-low of 143.75 following the decision. Against the euro, the yen dropped 0.6 per cent to 156.88.

The decision was in line with market expectations but some investors were on the lookout for signs on whether the dovish central bank might signal an eventual move away from negative interest rates.

"The BOJ will continue to maintain the stability of financing, mainly of firms, and financial markets, and will not hesitate to take additional easing measures if necessary," the BOJ said in a statement at the conclusion of its two-day monetary policy meeting.

Market focus now turns to Governor Kazuo Ueda's press conference later in the day for further guidance on the bank's policy outlook.

"Before the meeting, there were expectations for policy changes, including wording amendments in the statement," said SMBC's Chief FX strategist, Hirofumi Suzuki.

"The movement of a weaker (yen) is unlikely to become a trend, partly because expectations remain for a policy revision for January-March next year.

"Governor Ueda's stance on monetary policy normalisation at the press conference is drawing attention. Ueda is expected to say that he is paying attention to wage developments, including next spring's wage negotiations, so he will remain cautious," Suzuki said.

Elsewhere, the greenback languished near roughly five-month lows against the risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars, as market sentiment stayed buoyant on the prospect that the US Federal Reserve could begin easing next year.

The Aussie edged 0.28 pe cent higher to $0.6725, having peaked at $0.6736 in the previous session, its highest since July 31.

The kiwi likewise rose 0.22 per cent to $0.62255, standing not too far from Monday's top of $0.6250. The US dollar index was little changed at 102.50.

While some Federal Reserve officials have pushed back against market expectations of how soon the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) could cut rates, those comments have done little to sway market pricing and stem the greenback's decline.

Chicago Fed President, Austan Goolsbee, on Monday said the Federal Reserve is not pre-committing to cutting rates soon and swiftly, and the jump in market expectations that it will do so is at odds with how the US central bank functions.

"It may take (the) PCE inflation or comments from FOMC Chair (Jerome) Powell to encourage market participants to delay their expectations for the start of the rate cut cycle," said Joseph Capurso, Head of International and Sustainable Economics at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).

A reading on the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index - the Federal Reserve preferred measure of underlying inflation - is due this week, providing further clarity on whether inflation has slowed sufficiently for the Fed to begin easing its monetary policy next year.

Sterling rose 0.03 per cent to $1.2651, while the euro slipped 0.04 per cent to $1.0919.

CBA's Capurso said those two currencies are the most vulnerable to a dislocation in oil and gas markets given their increasing dependence on energy from the Middle East, after the Yemeni Houthi militant group attacked ships in the Red Sea.

Those attacks led to a spike in oil prices as investors worried about disruption to trade as well as supply costs.

"Middle East oil and gas supplies may be put at risk," said Capurso. "That's why the euro and sterling are most at risk for big falls if these conflicts get worse or spread."

Published December 19th, 2023 at 10:01 IST