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Dollar Pushes Yen to 137, Powell Speech Eyed

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The Japanese yen is in negative territory today. USD/JPY is trading at 136.90 in the European session, up 0.34%.

It has been a relatively quiet week for the yen, which is trading exactly where it started the week, around the 137 line. The month of August has not been kind to the yen, with USD/JPY soaring 2.75%. The US dollar is again in favor as the markets have tapered down their excitement that the Fed plans a dovish pivot. Does the Fed plan to let up or remain aggressive in its fight against inflation? We will certainly be smarter after Jerome Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole later today. A hawkish message from Powell should boost the US dollar unless investors zero in on any dovish remarks or projections, which could reignite speculation that the Fed will ease up on rate hikes.

Japanese inflation rises

The Tokyo Core CPI index rose 2.6% in August, above the forecast of 2.5% and higher than the 2.3% gain in July. This marked the highest gain since October 2014. Policy makers in other major economies can only dream about inflation below 3%, but for Japan, rising inflation is a new phenomenon after decades of deflation. Inflation has exceeded the Bank of Japan’s target of 2% for four successive months and inflation is finally on the Bank’s agenda. Still, it is very unlikely that the BoJ will do anything more than tweak monetary policy, as its number one goal is to stimulate Japan’s fragile economy.

The rise in inflation and the BoJ’s rigorous control of its yield curve has caused a steep deprecation of the yen, and an exchange rate of 140 may not be far off. There has been speculation in recent months that the Ministry of Finance could intervene to support the yen, but this has not happened until now and there is no indication that the 140 level is a magical ‘line in the sand’ that would trigger intervention.  For now, the main driver of USD/JPY remains the US/Japan rate differential, leaving the yen at the mercy of the movement of US Treasury yields.

USD/JPY Technical

  • USD/JPY is testing resistance at 137.03. Above, there is resistance at 137.03
  • 1.3615 and 1.3504 are providing support

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