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Japanese Yen Talking Points

USD/JPY bounces back from the session-low (110.93) as New York Fed President John Williams defends the recent decision to raise the benchmark interest rate to 2.25% to 2.50%, but the Relative Strength Index (RSI) appears to be on the cusp of flashing a bearish signal as it flirts with oversold territory.

Image of daily change for major currencies

USD/JPY Risks Bearish Behavior as RSI Flirts with Oversold Territory

Image of daily change for usdjpy rate

Fresh comments from Mr. Williams suggest the Federal Reserve will continue to embark on its hiking-cycle as the permanent voting-member on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) argues that ‘two rate increases would make sense in the context of a really strong economy,’ and the central bank may continue to prepare U.S. households and business for a less accommodative stance as officials ‘don’t seethe need today to change our balance-sheet normalization.’

The FOMC appears committed in further normalizing monetary policy as Chairman Jerome Powell & Co. continue to project a longer-run interest rate forecast of 2.75% to 3.00%, butthe central bank may adopt a less-hawkish tone over the coming months as fresh data prints coming out of the economy instill a mixed outlook for growth and inflation.

Image of DailyFX economic calendar

Updates to the 3Q U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report reveal an unexpected downward revision in the growth rate, with the gauge narrowing to 3.4% from an initial forecast of 3.5%, while a separate report shows Non-Defense Capital Goods Orders excluding Aircrafts, a proxy for business investment, contracting 0.6% in November versus forecasts for a 0.2% expansion.

Signs of a slowing economy may encourage Chairman Jerome Powell & Co. to conclude the hiking-cycle ahead of schedule, and USD/JPY appears to broadly tracking the decline in U.S. Treasury yields as both of instruments slip to fresh monthly lows following the last FOMC meeting for 2018. With that said, failure to preserve the opening range for December keeps the downside targets for the dollar-yen exchange rate rate especially as the pickup in volatility fuels the recent shift in retail sentiment.

Image of IG client sentiment for usdjpy

The IG Client Sentiment Report shows 61.3%of traders are now net-long USD/JPY compared 58.1% yesterday, with the ratio of traders long to short at 1.58 to 1. In fact, the percentage of traders net-long is now its highest since October 16 when USD/JPY traded near 112.30.The number of traders net-long is 3.3% lower than yesterday and 33.9% higher from last week, while the number of traders net-short is 15.2% lower than yesterday and 48.0% lower from last week.

The ongoing drop in net-short position is indicative of profit-taking behavior as USD/JPY trades near the monthly lows, but the tilt in retail interest offers a contrarian view to crowd sentiment as the series of failed attempt totest the 2018-high (114.55) warns of a larger correction. At the same time, developments in Relative Strength Index (RSI) warrants attention as the oscillator snaps the upward trend from earlier this year, with a break below 30 raising the risk for a further decline in USD/JPY as the bearish momentum gathers pace. Sign up and join DailyFX Currency Analyst David Song LIVE for an opportunity to discuss potential trade setups.

USD/JPY Daily Chart

Image of usdjpy daily chart
  • With the near-term outlook for USD/JPY remains capped by the 113.80 (23.6% expansion) to 114.30 (23.6% retracement) region, the lack of momentum to test the 2018-high (114.55) has opened up the downside targets especially as the exchange rate fails to preserve the monthly opening range.
  • However, waiting for a close below the 111.10 (61.8% expansion) to 111.80 (23.6% expansion) region to open up the next downside area of interest around 109.40 (50% retracement) to 110.00 (78.6% expansion), which largely lines up with the August-low (109.77).

For more in-depth analysis, check out the Q4 Forecast for the Japanese Yen

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--- Written by David Song, Currency Analyst

Follow me on Twitter at @DavidJSong.