Japanese intervention in focus as yen heads to 145 level

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Investing.com — The steadied after a series of steep declines on Wednesday, as traders awaited fresh intervention in currency markets by the government to support the weakened currency.

A mix of increased risk appetite and bets on more U.S. interest rate hikes battered the yen in recent weeks. This was exacerbated by a consistently dovish outlook from the Bank of Japan on maintaining its ultra-loose monetary policy in the near-term.

The yen was trading around 143.88 to the dollar in morning trade on Wednesday – its weakest level since early-November. Recent weakness in the yen drew warnings from Japanese officials on potentially corrective measures.

Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said that he would “respond appropriately” to stem further weakness in the currency – a warning that was somewhat reiterated by Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Masato Kanda.

Kanda had also led intervention in the yen last October, when the currency plummeted to a 32-year low of near 152 to the dollar. The government had intervened on three separate occasions between September and October, selling a record $48 billion to prop up the yen.

But analysts expect intervention to occur sooner this time, amid verbal warnings from top currency officials.

“The move up in core yields alongside improvement in risk appetite are supporting a weaker JPY given the BoJ ultra-easy policy. We are now approaching FX intervention territory with the market bracing for a (Ministry of Finance) announcement as and when USD/JPY climbs above ¥145,” analysts at National Australia Bank wrote in a note.

While a weaker yen benefits export-driven industries, it also ramps up the cost of imports and in turn boosts Japanese inflation. A core reading hit a 42-year high in May, data showed last week, indicating that underlying Japanese inflation remains high.

A widening gulf between U.S. and Japanese interest rates is the key source of pressure on the yen, especially after the Federal Reserve this year.

In contrast, the BOJ in a meeting earlier this month, and signaled no immediate plans to alter its yield curve control measures.

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