Tuesday, March 28

Dollar hits fresh peak against yen on bets for aggressive Fed

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TOKYO — The dollar hit a 24-year peak against the yen and reached new highs versus the Australian and New Zealand dollars on Wednesday after US economic data reinforced the view that the Federal Reserve will continue aggressive policy tightening.

The euro continued to languish not far from Tuesday’s two-decade low, well below parity, as European Union ministers prepare to meet this week to discuss the energy crisis that is hammering industry and squeezing households.

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A report overnight showed the US services industry unexpectedly picked up last month, reinforcing the view that the economy is not in recession and giving the Fed leeway for another super-sized 75 basis-point rate rise on Sept. 21.

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Markets currently give that scenario 73% probability, with 23% odds for a half-point hike.

The dollar jumped as high as 143.57 yen early in the Asian day, before trading 0.34% stronger than Tuesday at 143.28, as US Treasury yields also rose.

The yen is extremely sensitive to moves in long-term US rates, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed as high as 3.365% in Tokyo trading, a level not seen since June 16.

Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Tuesday that the recent market volatility was high and that authorities are watching the yen with a great sense of urgency.

But Rikiya Takebe, senior strategist at Okasan Securities, said the comments were not new.

Some analysts have said the fact that Suzuki has not reiterated the strong language used in July, when he said he was “concerned” after the yen fell beyond 139 to the dollar, suggested intervention in the currency market may not be imminent.

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“Currency intervention or policy revisions by the Bank of Japan are likely to be difficult, and it will not be easy to stop the yen from falling,” he said.

“Foreign central banks are prioritizing dealing with inflation, and cannot afford to worry about exchange rate fluctuations.”

Takebe added that there could be some defense at the 145 yen per dollar level because it is likely that a considerable amount of knockout triggers for domestic financial institutions’ structured bonds are stacked up at that level.

The euro wallowed 0.2% lower at $0.9888 after dipping as low as $0.9864 overnight.

The European Central Bank is seen likely to deliver a 75 bps rate hike on Thursday, but traders seem more focused on Russia’s decision to keep the key Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline shut indefinitely.

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EU energy ministers meet on Friday and will discuss options including gas price caps and emergency credit lines for energy market participants, a document seen by Reuters showed.

Sterling shed 0.3% to $1.1483, approaching the $1.1444 low from Monday, a level last seen in March 2020, with Britain also entangled in the energy crisis, despite new prime minister Lizz Truss’s plans for a massive support package.

The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, strengthened 0.08% to 110.43, sticking close to Tuesday’s 20-year high of 110.57.

Elsewhere, the Aussie declined 0.23% to $0.67165, and earlier touched $0.67105 for the first time since July 14, garnering little support from Tuesday’s as-expected Reserve Bank rate increase.

New Zealand’s kiwi dropped 0.43% to $0.6015, the lowest since May 2020.

Cryptocurrency bitcoin stood around $18,822 after dipping to $18,666 earlier for the first time since June 30. It tumbled more than 5% on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Additional reporting by Daiki Iga; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)



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