Tag Archives: Yen

Bank of Japan and Federal Reserve

The Japanese Yen dropped overnight as the Bank of Japan kept its main policy rate at -0.1% but revamped its stimulus program and left its options open for further monetary easing in the future before returning to earlier levels. USD/JPY currently trades at 101.58, CHF/JPY at 103.99, EUR/JPY at 113.22 and GBP/JPY at 132.00.

In the USA the Federal Reserve meets this evening (19:00 UK) and is likely to keep rates on hold at their current 0.25-0.50% range. However, market participants will be looking for any comments which confirm the likelihood of a rate hike(s) before year end.

EUR/USD currently trades at 1.1147, GBP/USD at 1.30 and USD/CHF at 0.9770.

Elsewhere, EUR/GBP trades at 0.8575 (GBP/EUR 1.1662).

WEAK US RETAIL SALES DATA FORCES USD LOWER

The US Dollar (USD) has lost some of its recent gains following this afternoon’s release of much weaker than anticipated US retail sales data. EUR/USD recovered from 1.1728 to 1.1845, whilst GBP/USD rose from 1.5145 to 1.5267. USD/CHF fell from 1.0238 to 1.0139 and USD/JPY fell from 117.96 to 116.08.
Market focus now turns to European and US Inflation data released on Friday 16/01/15.

United Kingdom: Sterling Strength

The Pound surged higher following Scotland’s decision to remain in the United Kingdom with GBP/EUR hitting a two year high at 1.2802 before falling back to 1.2706 (EUR/GBP 0.7870). GBP/USD soared to a high of 1.6523 before meeting resistance and falling back to 1.6354 and currently trades at 1.6390 in mid-morning UK trading. With the Japanese Yen performing badly this month following the Japanese government’s economic forecast downgrade the Pound hit its highest level against the Japanese Yen since October 2008, pushing GBP/JPY through 180 to a high of 180.70 before falling back to around 178 Yen to the Pound.

With the risk of Scottish independence out of the way the focus now turns back to the strength of the UK economic recovery and the timing of any rate hike from the Bank of England.

US Dollar Strengthens on FOMC Minutes

The USD has appreciated overnight after minutes released by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) showed that the US central bank was gradually taking a more hawkish stance as economic conditions (labour market and inflation) begin to normalise to levels last seen before the financial crisis.

The growing prospect of interest rate rises in the US coming sooner than expected have caused the USD to appreciate, forcing GBP/USD back below 1.66, hitting a low of 1.6565 so far and forcing the EUR down against the USD to 1.3242. Against the Yen the USD also appreciated sharply with USD/JPY hitting a high of 103.96.

UK Inflation Falls and Takes Pound With it

As expected this morning UK inflation figures fell, even lower than what the markets had been expecting. UK Consumer Price Index fell to 2.4%, down from 2.8% the previous month and below market expectations of 2.6%. UK Core Consumer price index was also down 40 basis points to 2.0%, recording a figure below market expectations of 2.3%. UK Producer Price Index and UK PPI Core Output were also down at 1.1% and 0.8% respectively.

In what was a rather busy morning in terms of UK data releases, nearly every piece of economic data released concerning the UK economy was negative. As would be expected Sterling fell right across the board following these inflation figures’ release. GBP/EUR fell to a daily low of 1.1777 however remained within the approximate 1.5 cent range that the pair has been trading within for the last month. Similarly Cable fell to a daily low of 1.5163, continuing the pairs decline since early May with a further test of the 1.5157 level now likely and should this break the next area of substantial support being found at 1.5127.

Much earlier this morning we saw the Japanese Yen return to its depreciating ways following Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari’s much more coy response regarding the potential end to the Yen’s slide against the Dollar. This comes after the Yen strengthened yesterday following the economy minister’s comment that suggested further weakening of the Yen may adversely impact upon Japanese people. The bank of Japan’s record monetary stimulus program would now appear to be having the desired effect that Japanese finance ministers had initially hoped it would. Figures released in Tokyo last week showed that Japanese GDP rose to an annualized 3.5%, suggesting that the Bank of Japan’s efforts to end a decade of inflation are actually having a positive impact on the economy. This increase in money supply has had the inevitable, yet “unintentional”, effect of depreciating the Yen, which rose to above USD/JPY 100.00 two weeks ago for the first time in over four years, and has consequently lead to a boost in exports. Data released so far suggests that BoJ Governor Haruhik Kuroda may actually be able to reach his ambitious target of reaching 2.0% inflation in just two years. USD/JPY is currently trading at 102.68 and speculation will now grow as to whether the pair will reach 105.00.

With very little data due out this afternoon, trader’s attention is likely to turn to tomorrow where we will see a number of key releases. In the early hours of tomorrow morning the Bank of Japan is set to make their interest rate decision and monetary policy statement, potentially giving the market an indication of how long their extremely loose monetary policy will continue. Moving back westwards, later tomorrow morning UK BoE minutes will be released, followed by the US FOMC minutes tomorrow evening. As Sir Mervyn King comes to the end of his tenure as governor of the BoE, it is unlikely that we will see any drastic information released in the BoE minutes, however the market will be keen to see if the FOMC minutes or Fed Governor Ben Bernanke’s press conference give any indication as to when a reduction in the Federal Reserve’s bond buying program will be brought to an end.

Currency Matters

Yesterday saw substantial volatility within the markets courtesy of mixed PMI figures released in Europe and a tacit message from Mario Draghi suggesting that the European recovery will take longer than expected. Whilst the BOE’s decision to maintain interest rates and quantitative easing levels at their current level had little impact upon the markets, German and Euro Zone PMI figures falling short of expectations and Mario Draghi’s negative assessment of Europe’s recovery caused a substantial move in the euro throughout the day whilst GBP/EUR eventually closed flat at 1.1777. The dollar experienced similar levels of volatility yesterday following higher than expected US Initial Jobless Claims as GBP/USD closed near a six week high of 1.5225 and EUR/USD also closed up at 1.2926.

Despite the relatively high levels of volatility that were witnessed on both sides of the pond yesterday, the largest market movements were attributed to economic news coming out of Asia. In the early hours of yesterday morning the Bank of Japan committed to a substantial bond buying program worth over half a trillion dollars per year – the size of which took markets by surprise. Unsurprisingly however this lead to the most considerable Yen sell off that we have seen for quite some time with the Yen closing down across the board. The Yen touched a near three and a half year low yesterday against the Dollar and has now pushed above this level with USD/JPY reaching 97.15 so far this morning, whilst GBP/JPY has hit 146.67.
This morning we have seen relatively minor movements in the markets following the release of Euro Zone Retail Sales and German Factory Orders, both of which came out above expectations. Market participants are likely regrouping following yesterday’s volatile trading environment and preparing themselves for the release of the US Nonfarm Payrolls later today. Following the weaker than expected US data yesterday, another subpar performance today for the US jobs market could cause the Greenback to drop off even further, with GBP/USD potentially reach 1.53+.

Euro Appreciates

The Euro has continued to appreciate following Thursday’s European Central Bank press conference where ECB President Mario Draghi failed to meet market expectations by not hinting at a rate cut in the coming months.

GBP/EUR is currently trading at 1.2070, a key level of support, after having broken through 1.2168 on Friday, a level which had held for the previous nine months. Todays’ weakening continues a seven day trend for Sterling, as Britain’s position within Europe becomes more and more ambiguous. David Cameron’s attempt to tread a fine line between Conservative Eurosceptic’s and pro-European business leaders is proving difficult and his bid to negotiate a reduction in powers held by Brussels over Britain, whilst maintaining the UKs membership, would appear impossible. Any concrete signs of a full withdrawal of the UK from the EU could prove very negative for Britain and would likely stifle economic growth for the country. Leaders from across Europe and even the US have warned Britain of the damaging effects such a move could have, and the markets would appear to be making their feelings clear too as the Pound continues to weaken.

Elsewhere in the world today, the Yen has continued to weaken as newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, looks set to elect a central bank chief who will continue to expand monetary easing in the country. In a further attempt to increase the countries competitiveness internationally, it is hoped that weakening the country’s currency will help drag Japan out of decades of economic stagnation.

EUR/USD broke above a key Fibonacci level of on Thursday and has continued its appreciation since. The pair is currently trading at 1.3368 and should the Euro continue to strengthen the next price level we are likely to see will be at 1.3487, however should momentum dissipate the pair may well fall back to 1.3143.

Cable is currently trading at 1.6124, a significant price level that has been mentioned in previous blogs. We are likely to see the pair trade between 1.6010 and 1.6309 until a consistent break is made either side of this channel. We may have to wait until next month until we actually see this though, when the effects of the delayed fiscal cliff remerge in Washington and US politicians once again commence battle, this time over government spending.

Please find a summary of this week’s economic calendar below:

14.01.13
10:00 EU Industrial Production
15:30 Bank of Canada Business Outlook Survey
21:00 US Fed’s Bernanke Speech

15.01.13
01:00 UK RICS Housing Price Balance
07:00 German Consumer Price Index
08:00 German Gross Domestic Product
09:30 UK Consumer Price Index
09:30 UK Producer Price Index
09:30 UK Retail Price Index
13:30 US Producer Price Index
13:30 US Retail Sales

16.01.13
10:00 EU Consumer Price Index
13:30 US Producer Price Index
14:15 US Industrial Production
19:00 US Fed’s Beige Book

17.01.13
00:30 Australian Unemployment Rate
09:00 ECB Monthly Report
13:30 US Housing Starts
13:30 Building Permits
13:30 US Initial Jobless Claims

18.01.13
02:00 Chinese GDP
02:00 Chinese Industrial Production
02:00 Chinese Retail Sales
09:30 UK Retail Sales
14:55 Reuters/Michigan Consumer Sentiment

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Markets are relatively flat this morning as participants wait and see what will be the outcome of two major pieces of economic data due out this afternoon. First we will see the Bank of England release its decision at 12:00 GMT on whether or not to alter interest rates or their asset purchase program. Whilst both of these are expected to remain as they are, market participants look keen to wait until these decisions are confirmed before taking a position within the markets.

A little later this afternoon we will see an ECB Monetary Policy Statement and press conference at 13:30 GMT. As in the UK, the ECB are expected to keep interest rates on hold at their record low of 0.75%. Whilst the Eurozone appears to have been stabilizing recently, there has however been no spectacular data release to suggest that a rate change at present would be warranted.

Elsewhere today we have seen commodity currencies react favourably to the positive data released in China this morning. Figures show that the Chinese Trade Balance rose substantially in December, reaching 31.6B for the month, well above market expectations of 19.7B. The Australian Dollar rose to its highest point against the Japanese Yen in four years following the data release, and is currently trading at AUD/JPY 93.23. The Aussie Dollar was also aided by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has called for the Bank of Japan to raise inflation targets to 2%, weakening the Yen right across the board.

Mark Webster