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FX Update: Bond rally supercharges JPY comeback rally.

Forex 4 minutes to read
John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy

Summary:  An extension of the rout in risky assets has continued to drive the US dollar higher against the smaller currencies and most G10 currencies as well, but the Japanese yen has not only taken on a new shine, but is even sharply stronger against the strong US dollar as global bonds have suddenly rediscovered their safe haven appeal. Elsewhere, HKD is worth watching as the HKMA intervened for the first time of this cycle to maintain the top of the USDHKD band.


FX Trading focus: JPY woke up and smelled the coffee. Watching HKD as USD presses upper level of USDHKD band.

The JPY upside potential has been more fully realized since yesterday on the heavy weight of falling yields in global sovereign bond, which are finally serving their function as a go-to safe haven in an environment of generally risk deleveraging. The JPY is even handily outpacing the ongoing strength in the US dollar as the yield focus dominates. And the technical damage in JPY crosses is spreading: NZDJPY and GBPJPY, the latter our focus yesterday, are already trading back into old ranges that preceded the JPY sell-off sparked by the commodity rally in the wake after Russia invaded Ukraine. Now watching AUDJPY and EURJPY for whether the feat is repeated there (key levels around 86.00 and 134.00, respectively), and CNHJPY has come down hard, with more to come. More thoughts on the most important USDJPY pair below in the chart discussion. The JPY can continue higher, but the price is far “fairer” now relative to long term bond yields. Yields must extend lower still, possibly with a helping hand from crude oi and LNG prices for a full reversal of the JPY sell-off since late February. 

Chart: USDJPY
Yesterday, our focus in JPY crosses was on GBPJPY, which took out the 160.00 and 158.00 area supports yesterday. Today we have a look at the big one: USDJPY and what levels might trigger a more notably slide. Arguably, the first of these has already been under strain today in the 128.50 area. Regardless, the direction of the US 10-year benchmark yield is the key coincident indicator, with global energy prices a secondary indicator. The next support area below is the 127.03 pivot low followed perhaps by the 125.00 area, which was a stopping point on the way up.

Source: Saxo Group

Sterling suffered a sell-off to new lows in the wake of the Q1 GDP data, which showed a +8.7% growth rate, slightly below expectations, but a -0.1% month-on-month figure for March, with weak production figures to boot. The March Trade Balance data was also out and showed a toe-curling negative £23.8B trade balance, a staggering figure. Still, after a run to fresh lows against the G3 currencies, the EURGBP rally reversed rather sharply, in part as EURUSD tipped over to new lows after a couple of weeks of defending the 1.0500 support area.

All traders should monitor the crypto situation as a possible aggravator of additional volatility risk across markets. The TerraUSD “stable coin” broke its parity level with the US dollar earlier this week and traded as much as 70% below par. Then yesterday, a key Bitcoin support level at 30,000 broke, possibly inspiring the instability of the Tether stable coin, which is a commonly used as a kind of parking space between going in and out of crypto trades and in and out of the crypo market itself. The Tether coin traded as much as 5% below par against the US dollar this morning before the whole crypto-complex recovered.

More directly pertinent to FX, we have to watch the Hong Kong dollar (HKD), as the USD strength has taken the USDHKD exchange rate to the upper limit of its band at 7.85 and has seen the Hong Kong Monetary Authority out intervening for the first time of this cycle overnight. The HKMA will also need to copy Fed policy to avoid the worst of pressure on the HKD, even with Hong Kong’s economy in a funk. The HKD band is one of those legacy set-ups that makes little sense here almost forty years after its creation, but Hong Kong remains a key gateway into and out of the mainland Chinese economy, and China probably doesn’t want to add HKD instability to its long list of challenges.

Note the Chinese demand concerns continuing to weigh on the copper price, which has punched to the lowest reaches of the range since early 2021. This in turn weighs on the Aussie, which itself has punched to new lows for the cycle. The CAD has gotten off easy so far by comparison, perhaps as oil prices remain in the higher range here – but after breaking above resistance, if USDCAD loses its tethering to the 1.3000 area it is in danger of a sharp extension higher.

Table: FX Board of G10 and CNH trend evolution and strength.
We have noted the euro resilience of late, but signs of this crumbling today as EURUSD, EURCHF and especially EURJPY come under pressure. But the development of note here is the strong revival of the JPY momentum and outright positive trend measurement in recent days. Elsewhere, CAD looks too strong with this backdrop, although there is quite a race to the bottom of late among the weakest horses in G10 FX.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Table: FX Board Trend Scoreboard for individual pairs.
Note EURJPY and CADJPY trying to join other JPY crosses in flipping to the negative side after the sharp JPY rally today. All G10 currency pairs save for a few GBP pairs (due to Brexit-related events) are in the highest 10% of their ATRs of the last 1000 trading days, as shown in the dark orange shading for the ATR readings.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Upcoming Economic Calendar Highlights (all times GMT)

  • 1230 – US Apr. PPI
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