Yen backtracks after strong move higher, dollar climbs ahead of CPI

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The yen retreated on Tuesday, coming off its biggest one-day percentage rise since mid-July as the currency strengthened on comments from Japan’s top central banker, while the U.S. dollar gained as investors awaited the latest reading on inflation.

The greenback strengthened 0.39% at 147.15 against the yen to recover somewhat from a 0.83% fall on Monday against the Japanese currency after comments from Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Kazuo Ueda heightened expectations the central bank could shift away from its negative interest rate policy.

However, influential ruling party lawmaker Hiroshige Seko indicated his preference for an ultra-loose monetary policy on Tuesday.

The yen has come under pressure against the dollar as the BOJ remains a dovish outlier among global central banks, especially since the Federal Reserve began its aggressive rate-hike cycle in March 2022.

“Even if the Bank of Japan were to move off the negative rate setting, the reality is that interest rate differentials would remain absolutely vast,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay in Toronto.

“So we did have that sort of knee jerk over-reaction and it is something we have seen repeatedly in recent years here, sort of this triumph of hope over experience that markets keep going through.”

Traders have been closely watching for any signs of intervention from Japan to shore up the yen since it weakened past the 145 per dollar threshold last month. A year ago, that level prodded the central bank to engage in the first yen-buying intervention since 1998.

The dollar index recouped some of Monday’s decline as investors awaited U.S. inflation data due on Wednesday in the form of the consumer price index (CPI) and was last up 0.14% at 104.72. While a strong reading is unlikely to sway expectations the Federal Reserve will hold rates steady at its policy announcement next week, it could increase expectations for more rate hikes at following meetings.

Expectations the Fed will hold rates steady next week stand at 93%, according to CME’s FedWatch Tool, but with a 40.9% chance for a 25 basis point hike for the November meeting, up from 38.4% on Monday.

The euro fell 0.19% to $1.0728 ahead of Thursday’s European Central Bank (ECB) policy announcement. Money markets have been slowly increasing expectations for another hike by the ECB.

Analysts at Wells Fargo expect the ECB to hold rates steady but “expect it to accompany any hold with hawkish rhetoric and potentially a quid pro quo on balance sheet reduction.”

The pound lost 0.2% to $1.2485 against the greenback after UK labor market data showed wage growth likely kept the Bank of England on track to raise interest rates again, but the unemployment rate rose, signaling a possible cooling.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, editing by Deepa Babington)