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 Dollar hits 3-month high on yen as Tokyo steps in

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MesazhTitulli: Dollar hits 3-month high on yen as Tokyo steps in   Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:13 pm

The greenback, recently softened by speculation of more easing by the Federal Reserve, spiked more than 4 percent to 79.55 yen, after hitting another all-time low of 75.31 yen on EBS early in Asian trade.

The dollar was stuck at 79.20 yen for more than two hours after the intervention due to a large bid at that level, prompting traders to speculate that Japan might want to set a Swiss-style floor for the dollar/yen rate.

But when the Swiss central bank set a floor for its currency against the euro in September, Japanese officials said Japan's economy was too large to allow such a move, and dealers were skeptical that authorities could peg the yen to any particular level in the long term.

"The effect of intervention is likely to be temporary but the authorities probably had to make a show of strength," said Takafumi Yamawaki, chief fixed income strategist at JP Morgan Securities in Tokyo.

"The dollar/yen exchange rate is politically significant so they had to make an impact on the pair in one form or another, although intervening won't have much effect on the real economy," Yamawaki said.

Finance Minister Jun Azumi said Tokyo stepped into the market on its own at 10:25 a.m. local time (9:25 p.m. EDT) and would keep intervening until it was satisfied with the results.

With the Swiss franc pegged to the eucheap jerseys from chinaro and the possibility of further easing weighing on the liquid U.S. dollar despite relatively healthy U.S. GDP figures for the third quarter, the yen again came into focus as rattled investors sought safety.

Tokyo's second foray into the currency markets since its record selling of 4.5 trillion yen ($59.4 billion) when it intervened on August 4, follows weeks of warnings by government and central bank officials that their patience with the currency's strength was wearing thin.

"It was very good timing. The BOJ laid the groundwork by easing last week. Speculators' yen-buying positions have piled up, and intervention is most effective in such cases," Yunosuke Ikeda, senior FX strategist at Nomura Securities.

Japan's central bank eased monetary policy last Thursday by boosting its government bond purchases. Currency speculators doubled their net long position in the yen to 54,279 contracts in the week ended October 25, the highest since the beginning of August..


While traders were skeptical that the authorities were setting a floor for the dollar/yen rate, the currency options market indicated that traders were prepared for the finance ministry to defend the 79.20 yen level for the time being.

Implied volatility on one-month dollar/yen options, a gauge of expectations regarding a currency's price action, dropped to 9.2 percent after a brief jump to 10.3 percent after the intervention.
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"As usual, the size of the intervention and currencies purchased are unknown at this stage. We think the size could be as large as or even larger than the previous interventions (2.1 trillion yen on September 15, 2010, and 4.5 trillion yen on August 4)," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo.

The move came as the Europe's debt crisis looked set to dominate the G20 summit in France on November 3-4, after an Italian debt sale on Friday saw the country pay record high costs to borrow on the debt market, underscoring concerns that the latest EU deal still leaves much to be resolved.

"They (Japan) seem much more concerned than other countries with international criticism, and I think that the timing ahead of the G20 meeting makes this tough for them to engage in repeated bouts of yen selling," said Todd Elmer, currency strategist at Citi in Singapore.

"The second issue is that the flow backdrop is simply not conducive to a sustained rally in dollar/yen," he added.

Japanese exporters may sell into the dollar's rally to step up their currency hedging, for example, while FX reserve managers may view Japan's efforts to competitively devalue the yen with distaste and use the yen's drop as an opportunity to buy the Japanese currency, Elmer said.

Moreover, the dollar was seen vulnerable as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was seen likely to repeat his disappointment at the pace of recovery and explore further options for supporting growth at the Fed's two-day policy meeting starting on Tuesday.
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Spurred by Monday's intervention, the dollar surged 1 percent against the euro, which fell to $1.4008, off a two-month high of $1.4248 hit on Thursday.

The greenback also muscled in on the Australian dollar, which dropped about 1.6 percent to last change hands at $1.0529, off a two-month high of $1.0753 set last Thursday. The dollar index rose 1.5 percent to 76.18.

($1 = 75.760 Japanese Yen)
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