Yen drops despite intervention threat, Aussie slides after RBA

By Reuters   May 7, 2024 | 12:09 am PT
The yen continued to slide against the dollar on Tuesday as gaping interest rate differentials weighed on the currency, despite fresh warnings from Japanese officials following two rounds of suspected dollar-selling intervention last week.
Japanese yen banknotes. Illustration photo by Pixabay

Japanese yen banknotes. Illustration photo by Pixabay

The Australian dollar fell from near a two-month high versus its U.S. counterpart after the Reserve Bank of Australia refrained from ramping up hawkish signals, as some traders had anticipated.

In her press conference after the central bank's widely-expected decision to keep rates unchanged, governor Michele Bullock said the board believes monetary policy is at the right level to return inflation to target. The RBA hopes the economy wouldn't have to face additional rate hikes, Bullock said.

The Aussie was last down 0.51% at $0.6591, retreating from Friday's high of $0.6650, a level previously seen on March 8.

"It was a bit of 'Buy the rumour and sell the fact,'" said James Kniveton, senior corporate FX dealer at Convera.

"They (the RBA) remain vigilant to upside risk, but the hawkish bias the markets expected has not eventuated."

The U.S. dollar gained 0.39% to 154.50 yen , adding to its 0.58% rally from Monday.

On Friday, it sank as low as 151.86 yen for the first time since April 10, as softer-than-expected monthly U.S. jobs data fed losses following Bank of Japan data that suggested official intervention could have amounted to some 9 trillion yen ($58.37 billion).

Japan's finance ministry has refrained from commenting on whether it was behind the dollar selling, but top currency diplomat Masato Kanda repeated on Tuesday that the government "will continue to take the same firm approach" to disorderly yen moves.

He also acknowledged that an orderly market would not require the government to step in, however, which some analysts took as a signal that intervention risks had lessened.

The carry trade remains a draw, with a Federal Reserve rate cut likely to take some time and the BOJ following a cautious approach to tightening after its first rate hike since 2007 in March, leaving a vast gap of 370 basis points between ultra-low Japanese long-term yields and their U.S. counterparts.

At the same time, DBS analysts estimate that even after last week's bounce, the yen is still the most undervalued currency in the G-10 grouping, while the dollar remains "highly overvalued".

In a client note, they wrote, "We expect Japan to continue leaning against excessive JPY weakness."

The U.S. dollar index - which measures the currency against six major peers, including the yen, sterling and euro - ticked 0.11% higher to 105.27, after dipping as low as 104.52 on Friday.

The euro eased 0.1% to $1.0758 and sterling fell 0.14% to $1.2543.

($1=154.2000 yen)

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