FX Update: JPY drop extends despite yield consolidation.
Head of FX Strategy
Summary: Global bond yields, and especially US treasury yields, consolidated lower yesterday and yet the JPY weakening move that has been nominally coincident (inversely) with the direction in global bond yields kept ride on trucking. This suggests that aggressive speculative flows in JPY are behind at least some of the move. And it is worth noting that the CNHJPY exchange rate is pushing at the range highs that stretch back several years and have twice signaled major shifts in the CNH.
FX Trading focus: JPY drop extends despite consolidation in global bond yields
The Japanese yen weakening move continued apace overnight in the wake of an upward Q1 GDP revision and a solid uptick in the May Eco Watchers Survey. The aggressive extension lower in the currency looks slightly odd, given that global bond yields, and especially US Treasury yields, saw a solid consolidation lower yesterday. Looking at the origins of this latest leg lower in the JPY, the move in USDJPY began on May 31, the day when US long treasury yields halted their slide lower and lifted off from their consolidation lows as well. But a good friend and far-more-clever market observer than I argues that the move makes sense in light of a shift in the wording on that very day of a new fiscal draft away from a commitment to balancing the budget by 2025. This did merely make explicit something that was widely considered unlikely anyway, and other countries are hardly likely to get their fiscal houses in order before the next recession strikes (presumably well before 2025), but it is an FX negative, together with other recent signs the PM Kishida has few qualms with the current BoJ policy mix and is therefore more likely to nominate someone like him when Kuroda’s term expires next year.
But the aggressive move lower in the JPY also has a clear speculative element, as is visible in rather stretched speculative US futures positioning and indications that “Mrs. Watanabe” is enjoying the strong carry trade as the JPY weakens, going long other currencies like the AUD and especially BRL in recent months. This speculative element and the Japanese external capital flows focus driving a good portion of the JPY weakness (as has so often been the case in the past) is covered very well in a column from Bloomberg’s John Authers today. The question is how late in the game we are here – is this the beginning or middle of a climax phase or do we have months to run? It is hard to tell, the higher yields go and the lower the JPY goes, the more explosive the blowback when and if either the BoJ is forced off the YCC commitment, or the speculative bubble plays itself out.
Interesting to watch the JPY move in isolation, but also the CNHJPY exchange rate in coming days as it is interesting to note that China chose to allow its currency to weaken just as the CNHJPY cross was poking at the 20.00 level for the first time since 2015, which was near the time frame in which China chose to dramatically rework its foreign exchange policy. If the USDJPY rate continues higher, we should expect a renewed bout of volatility in the USDCNH rate as well.
The low-yielder theme is also prominent in EURCHF today as EURCHF challenges above its 200-day moving average, which it has generally traded below since July of last year. We’re seeing new highs in EU yields and pricing of the ECB heading into tomorrow’s ECB meeting (previewed in yesterday’s update) after an upgrade of the Q1 GDP estimate to 0.6% QoQ from 0.3% originally.
Sterling was sharply strong yesterday after the gyrations before and after the Boris Johnson leadership vote, with the strength likely stemming from the rebound in risk sentiment yesterday together with promises of tax cuts for companies from Chancellor Sunak in the fall budget statement, but these latter sources of support are eroding fast today and still looking for the potential for a EURGBP break higher post ECB if Lagarde and company can support the repricing of the forward yield curve for the euro. Watch the 0.8600 area post-ECB tomorrow.
The Turkish lira has been in for an ugly drubbing in recent weeks, with the deterioration picking up sharply today in the wake of fresh comments from Turkish president Erdogan, who has been out talking up interest rate cuts as the needed medicine for reducing inflation. This after the country posted a year-on-year inflation rate of 73.5% in May (although month-on-month it was 3.0% vs. 4% expected) After a tenuous period of stability when USDTRY traded below 15.00 from early March until early May, the currency has now moved over 12% lower in carry adjusted terms since early May versus the US dollar. At the same time, President Erdogan is complicating Sweden and Finland’s application to join NATO with claims that Sweden must stop supporting “terrorism”, with a single deciding vote in the Swedish parliament holding the Swedish government together an ethnic Kurd and former Peshmerga fighter. You can’t make it up.
Table: FX Board of G10 and CNH trend evolution and strength.
The pressure on the JPY continues to mount, with some fresh downside in the CHF as well. As noted above, curious to see if CNH responds to the JPY situation soon. Elsewhere, CAD is riding high on oil and Euro is in a holding pattern – let’s see what the ECB can deliver.
Table: FX Board Trend Scoreboard for individual pairs.
Watching USDCNH as a derivative of the CNHJPY and USDJPY situation and after the recent USDCNH new lows were rejected. USDCHF has also crossed back to positive.
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