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Yen moves higher as Bank of Japan tweaks YCC

European markets saw a strong session yesterday, buoyed by the belief that the central banks could be done when it comes to further rate hikes, after the ECB followed the Fed by raising rates by 25bps and then suggesting that a pause might be on the table when they next meet in September.

The mood was also helped by a strong set of US economic numbers which pointed to a goldilocks scenario for the US economy.

US markets also opened strongly with the S&P500 pushing above the 4,600 level and its highest level since March 2022, before retreating and closing sharply lower, with the Dow closing lower, breaking a run of 13 days of gains.

Sentiment abruptly changed during the US session on reports that the Bank of Japan might look at a possible “tweak” to its yield curve control policy at its latest policy meeting earlier this morning.

This report, coming only hours before today’s scheduled meeting, caught markets on the hop somewhat pushing the Japanese yen higher against the US dollar, while pushing US 10-year yields back above 4%.

With Japanese core inflation above 4% there was always the possibility that the Bank of Japan might spring a surprise, or at least lay the groundwork for a possible tweak. The Bank of Japan has form for when it comes to wrong footing the market, and so it has proved, as at today’s meeting they announced that they would allow the upper limit on the 10-year yield to move from 0.5% to 1%. They would do this by offering to purchase JGBs at 1% every day through fixed rate operations, effectively raising the current cap by 50bps, and sending the yen sharply higher. The central bank also raised its 2023 inflation forecast to 2.5% from 1.8%, while nudging its 2024 forecast lower to 1.9%.

As far as today’s price action is concerned, the late decline in the US looks set to translate into a weaker European open, even though confidence is growing that the Fed is more or less done when it comes to its rate hiking cycle. Nonetheless, investors will be looking for further evidence of this with the latest core PCE deflator, as well as personal spending and income data for June, later this afternoon to support the idea of weaker inflation.

Anything other than a PCE Core Deflator slowdown to 4.2% from 4.6%, could keep the prospect of a 25bps September hike on the table for a few weeks more. Both personal spending and income data are expected to improve to 0.4% and 0.5% respectively.

We’re also expecting a tidal wave of European GDP and inflation numbers, which are expected to confirm a weaker economic performance than was the case in Q1, starting with France Q2 GDP which is expected to slow to 0.1% from 0.2%. The Spanish economy is also expected to slow from 0.6% to 0.4% in Q2.

On the inflation front we’ll be getting an early look at the latest inflation numbers for June from France and Germany as well as PPI numbers for Italy.

France flash CPI for June is expected to slow to 5.1% from 5.3%, while Germany CPI is expected to slow to 6.6% from 6.8%.

With PPI inflation acting as a leading indicator for weaker inflation for all of this year the latest Italy PPI numbers will be scrutinised for further weakness in the wake of a decline of -3.1% in May on a month-on-month basis and a -6.8% decline on a year-on-year basis.  

EUR/USD – failed to follow through above the 1.1120 area, subsequently slipping back, falling below the 1.1000 area, which could see a retest of the 1.0850 area which is the lows of the last 2 weeks. Below 1.0850 targets a move back to the June lows at 1.0660.

GBP/USD – slipped back from the 1.3000 area, falling back below the Monday lows with the risk we could retest the 50-day SMA and trend line support at the 1.2710. While above this key support the uptrend from the March lows remains intact.    

EUR/GBP – struggling to rally, with resistance at the 0.8600 area, and support at the recent lows at 0.8500/10. Above the 0.8600 area targets the highs last week at 0.8700/10.

USD/JPY – while below the 142.00 area, the bias remains for a move lower, with the move below 139.70 targeting a potential move towards the 200-day SMA at 137.20.

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