Yen edges higher vs dollar as risk sentiment sours

Reuters Tokyo/Singapore | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on February 17, 2016


The yen retook some ground against the dollar on Wednesday after a recent rebound in crude oil prices fizzled and revived demand for the safe-haven Japanese currency.

The dollar fell 0.3 per cent to 113.74 yen, pulling away from a one-week high of 114.875 set on Tuesday.

The greenback tumbled to a 16-month low below 111 yen last week as a global rout in equities and commodities as well as reduced expectations for a near-term interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve boosted the Japanese currency.

The dollar then bounced sharply as risk aversion subsided but remains susceptible to swings in sentiment, as seen by its reaction to Tuesday’s drop in crude oil.

A rebound in crude oil prices from 13-year lows was cut short on Tuesday after top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia dashed expectations of an outright supply reduction, agreeing only to freeze output if other big exporters joined them.

While oil prices edged higher on Wednesday, they languished below Tuesday’s intraday highs. Asian equities slipped 0.5 per cent, suggesting that risk sentiment remained fragile amid concerns about the outlook for global growth.

“Dollar/yen will continue to watch movements in risk assets like crude oil and equities, for direction. During ‘risk off’ phases, the yen continues to show the strongest reaction. The dollar approached the 115 yen threshold recently and this also makes it easier for participants to sell the currency,’’ said Shin Kadota, chief Japan forex strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

The euro rose 0.2 per cent to $1.1165. Against the yen, the common currency eased 0.1 per cent to 127.04, down from Tuesday’s high of 128.16 yen.

The market will look to US housing and industrial production data and the minutes of the Fed’s January policy meeting due later in the day for cues.

Over the next month, a focal point for the dollar against the yen is the possibility of more monetary stimulus by the Bank of Japan, said Tan Teck Leng, FX strategist for UBS chief investment office Wealth Management in Singapore.

“The very reason why they decided to adopt negative interest rates in January, when dollar/yen was at 118, is because they wanted to encourage wage growth in ‘shunto’ taking place this month and next month,’’ Tan said, referring to wage negotiations in Japan.

If the dollar is stuck near its current levels against the yen by the time of the BOJ’s policy meeting on March 14-15, the BOJ might adopt further stimulus, Tan added.

Whether such additional BOJ monetary easing would reap much benefit is unclear, however.

The BOJ’s radical adoption of negative interest rates, which came into effect on Tuesday, is already being deemed a failure by financial markets, highlighting Tokyo’s lack of options to spur growth as global markets sputter.

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar fell 0.2 per cent to $0.7093.

The Canadian dollar last traded at C$1.3869 versus the US dollar, having pulled back from a 12-day high of C$1.3707 touched on Tuesday.

Published on February 17, 2016
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