FX Trading focus: Bank of Japan meeting tonight as pressure on policy mix mounts, EUR and GBP in for fresh pressure on Russian NatGas threats, AUD and SEK ahead of Riksbank
The JPY has found a bit of support this week on the consolidation in global bond yields. Yesterday saw a strong US 2-year Treasury auction that helped take yields lower at the front end of the curve as well, with risk-off finally strong enough in the background to see US treasuries serving as a safe haven. The falling yields factor by itself brings the JPY some relief, as has the Chinese decision to allow a so-far modest revaluation of its currency lower that will bring more relative support to the JPY if that move is extended.
But to really reset the JPY level back higher after its runs to multi-decade lows in real-effective inflation-adjusted terms, we will need to see a policy change from the BoJ. The BoJ meets tonight, and while very few are expecting a shift, it wouldn’t take much of a hint to suggest the pressure on the BoJ via the weakening currency is becoming too strong to ignore. Even a hint that the Bank is mulling tightening without specifics could be enough to trigger a JPY rally, but spelling out that the bank is willing to tinker with its yield cap policy on 10-year JGB’s would likely spark an even sharper move.
Meanwhile, the political pressure has to be mounting sharply as well: consider that overnight the Japanese government has passed a near JPY 6.2 trillion (approx. $50 billion) stimulus package aimed at offsetting cost-of-living pressures that are sorely felt by the most vulnerable in Japan. This at a time when inflation supposedly remains unsatisfactorily low. For whom the inflation bell tolls is an critical question both in Japan and globally as we have to consider that these cost of living pressures that may only measure in the mid- to high single digits nationally could weigh 20% or more for the consumption basket at the lower end of the income spectrum, in terms of rent, heating, food, etc. It’s an explosive cocktail for politicians and Japan is set for important lower house elections in July. The BoJ may not move tonight, but it can’t remain an immovable object in a rapidly moving world forever. Keep in mind that Japan is on holiday Friday and out for much of next week, so this could aggravate the volatility if the BoJ does deliver any new guidance or policy twists.
Watching the USDJPY pair and JPY crosses closely tonight over the Bank of Japan meeting for the reasons outlined above. Technically, the pair seems to have shied away from a test of the 130.00 level, while on the downside, any BoJ policy surprise could deliver tremendous intraday volatility – easily 125.00 or lower, given that the recent break level to the upside was all the way down at 116.35. JPY traders should tread carefully, considering long volatility plays in the options market if wanting to express a short-term view. JPY cross action may prove higher beta than the reaction in USDJPY itself. As well, Japan will be out on holiday over next week during the May 4 FOMC meeting so liquidity may prove thinner than usual. If we see Kuroda-san doubling down on the existing policy and a fresh surge in global yields, the uptrend could be reinvigorated for a try toward 135.00. It’s a pivotal week for USDJPY either way, in all likelihood.