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Yen Soars on Speculation of Japanese Intervention

Carolane de Palmas | Tuesday 30 April 2024

On April 29th, 2024, the Japanese Yen (JPY) plunged to a 34-year low against the US Dollar (USD), hitting a low of 160.245 at its lowest. Then, in a sudden reversal, the Yen surged. This shift fuelled speculation of a possible intervention by the Japanese government, a move that could significantly impact Forex trading.

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why the USD/JPY (USDJPY) might have suddenly fallen yesterday and what it means for the Japanese Yen:

Japanese yen price chart

USD/JPY Price Snapshot of 2024: April 30th, 2024

USDJPY price chart

The Yen recorded its largest daily gain against the dollar this year on Monday, April 29th, 2024. Since the beginning of the year, the USD/JPY has been trading in a strong bullish market. The Forex pair started the year at 140.956 and is trading at 156.833 on April 30th, 2024. So far this year, the USD/JPY is up 11.26%.

Yen Soared on April 29th, 2024: Did Japan Intervene?

The Japanese Yen’s weakness isn’t a recent development, as it has been at its weakest in over 50 years in real terms. 

The USD/JPY currency has been steadily declining since peaking above 80 Yen to the US Dollar in 2011. This downward trend accelerated in March 2022 when the US Federal Reserve (FOMC) adopted a more hawkish monetary policy stance: raising interest rates to combat inflation

As a result, the US Dollar strengthened significantly against other currencies, with the Yen being particularly impacted. While the Bank of Japan maintained negative interest rates between 2007 and 2024, the US raised theirs, making the USD a more attractive investment and further weakening the JPY, with the USD/JPY reaching a new record in 34 years on April 29, 2024. However, this weakness has a cost for the Japanese economy. 

While it makes Japanese exports more competitive for foreigners and travelling to Japan more affordable, it also means that imports are more expensive, which can dampen domestic consumption, as households tend to be net importers.

Despite BOJ Governor Kazuo Ueda’s recent statement that monetary policy does not specifically aim at currency rates, it must consider the potential impact of extreme exchange-rate fluctuations on the country’s economy and inflation. 

Excessive movements in exchange rates around 4% over two weeks, according to Masato Kanda, may necessitate government interventions. 

The unexpected surge in the Yen on April 29th, following its decline to a 34-year low against the USD, has led traders to speculate that Japan intervened to halt the decline, although no official statements have been issued to confirm this. (Source: Reuters)

Conclusion

While the interest rate differential between the US and Japan puts downward pressure on the Yen, the Bank of Japan’s history of intervening to support the currency (such as in 1991-1992, 1997-1998, and 2022) suggests they may act again. 

The Yen’s significant depreciation – losing over a third of its value since 2021, reaching a 34-year low on April 29, 2024, and hitting multi-year lows against other currencies such as the Euro (EUR), the Australian Dollar (USD) and the Chinese Yuan – strengthens the case for intervention.

The future of the Yen remains uncertain, and trading the USD/JPY could come with some volatility in the next few days, as this week brings potentially market-moving events like the Fed meeting, Japan’s consumer confidence data, and the US Non-Farm Payrolls.


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