Yen Jawboning Continues Before Bank of Japan Policy Decision

Yen Jawboning Continues Before Bank of Japan Policy Decision

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(Bloomberg) — Japan’s leaders are standing by to address any sharp moves in the yen as the currency remains in focus ahead of the central bank’s policy decision later Friday. 

While the yen has edged away from the 150 level to the dollar that some analysts see as a trigger for intervention, the prime minister, his chief cabinet secretary, the finance minister and the nation’s top currency official have all issued verbal warnings to the market this week.

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The yen was little changed at 147.71 as of 11:10 a.m. in Tokyo, rebounding from Thursday when it touched its weakest level since November. It’s lost 11% versus the greenback this year, making it the worst-performing Group-of-10 currency.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan would maintain high vigilance and take necessary action against excessive currency moves, repeating remarks made on Thursday by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno. 

Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Friday morning that intervention can stabilize movements in foreign exchange. Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Masato Kanda said earlier in the week that he was keeping in close contact with his counterparts in the US, adding both sides agreed that excessive moves were unwelcome. 

Japan intervened to support the yen for the first time since 1998 when it weakened to 145.90 in September last year. It spent around $65 billion in total to prop up the yen on three occasions through October.  

The currency remains under pressure to weaken as the BOJ maintains the world’s last subzero interest rates, keeping the yield gap wide with other nations. The US Treasury 10-year yield is about six times more than Japan’s equivalent. 

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While the BOJ isn’t expected to adjust policy Friday, Governor Kazuo Ueda’s post-decision comments will be scrutinized for his views on the yen’s weakness and any hints on how soon policy may be normalized.

Underscoring just how much the currency has slumped, data from the Bank for International Settlements showed its value at a record low as measured against a broad basket of its peers and adjusted for inflation.

This is adding to pressure on inflation, which has been above the central bank target of 2% for more than a year. Figures on Friday showed inflation excluding fresh food and energy stood at 4.3% in August. 

(Updates with comments from finance minister)

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