Yen Up As WHO to Meet on Coronavirus, BOJ Leaves Policy Alone
Japanese Yen, Coronavirus Outbreak, Bank of Japan Monetary Policy Decision Talking Points:
- USD/JPY headed lower as the markets focused on the coronavirus outbreak
- The Chinese New Year season will see huge travel both in China and beyond
- The Bank of Japan left all its policy settings on hold as expected
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The Japanese Yen gained Tuesday as markets reacted nervously to overnight news that the World Health Organization is to convene an emergency meeting to discuss this year’s outbreak of coronavirus. The Bank of Japan’s first monetary policy decision of the year, meanwhile, largely passed markets by.
The virus is thought to have infected humans via a fish-market in China with cases also reported in Thailand and Japan. The outbreak has come just as millions are set to travel both within China and overseas to celebrate Chinese New Year at the weekend.
While the death toll so far remains small, Asian investors have all-too-vivid memories of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). That disease also originated in China and its 2002/03 outbreak lead to more than 700 deaths worldwide and caused widespread economic difficulty and travel disruption.
There was a much more muted reaction to the Bank of Japan. It left all its monetary settings alone, yet again, as had been universally expected. The key short-term policy interest rate stays at -0.1%, the ten-year Japanese Government Bond yield target is 0.0% and monthly bond purchases will remain substantial.
The central bank also maintained its forward guidance saying that rates will remain at current or lower levels for as long as is needed to guard against loss of price momentum in the economy.
It also upgraded its Gross Domestic Product growth forecast for Japan in fiscal year 2020 to 0.9%, from 0.7%. Its core Consumer Price Index inflation forecast went down to 1%, however, from 1.1%.
On its daily chart the Japanese Yen remains under some longer-term pressure against the US Dollar and other currencies.
Last week’s signing of an interim trade agreement between China and the US has helped boost risk appetite, as has the fading prospect of military confrontation between Washington and Tehran. The US corporate earnings season has also cheered the Wall Street crowd. USD/JPY has risen well above the broad trading range which had previously bounded trade since November 4.
However, the rise is starting to look a bit overdone with momentum indicators suggesting that the Dollar is now overbought. That need not mean that a marked correction lower is coming up anytime soon, but it is notable that the current rally seems to have faded out just short of the downtrend line that has capped the market since mid-2015.
It remains close at hand though and will remain a tempting target for the bulls for as long as they can keep the pair above that trading range, assuming that the coronavirus story does not worsen.
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--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research
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