Yen spikes after Japan intervention, stocks slump


Yen spikes after Japan intervention, stocks slump © Reuters. U.S. dollar banknotes are displayed in this illustration taken, February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration


By Herbert Lash and Marc Jones

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – The yen spiked higher on Thursday after the Federal Reserve’s adamant rate hike stance the day before roiled the investment outlook for bonds and stocks while forcing Japan to unilaterally intervene in FX markets for the first time since 1998.

The dollar slid after earlier surging to fresh two-decade highs following the Fed’s raising interest rates on Wednesday by an expected 75 basis points. Its projection of more large increases ahead cemented a market view of “higher for longer.”

In a cautionary sign, the Treasury yield curve measuring the gap between two- and 10-year notes inverted the most since at least 2000, signaling a recession in a year or two. It later eased a bit at -44.1 basis points.

Stocks fell further on Wall Street while in Europe, where Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons amplified the existing economic pain and volatility from the Ukraine war, major indexes also tumbled.

But the day’s big news was Tokyo swooping in to support the yen soon after Europe opened. While the move seemed imminent for weeks – the yen has fallen 20% this year, almost half of that in the last six weeks – it still packed a punch.

The Japanese currency surged almost 4% to 140.31 to the dollar from 145.81 in just over 40 minutes. The yen was last up 1.38% versus the greenback at 142.05. [/FRX]

GRAPHIC: Japan intervenes to prop up weak yen

Central bank rate hikes around the world and Japan fighting back against the weak yen cooled the dollar’s latest burst to fresh highs, said Joe Manimbo, U.S. senior market analyst at Convera.

“But the Fed’s unflinching determination to restore 2% inflation is likely to keep the buck well-supported for the foreseeable future,” Manimbo said.

With the dollar stalled, the euro fell 0.21% to $0.9817 and other currencies gained, too.

The move came just hours after the Bank of Japan maintained super-low interest rates, fighting the global tide of monetary tightening by the Fed and other central banks trying to rein in roaring inflation.

Volatility and uncertainty have risen as the market comes to grips with a monetary regime that is now reducing liquidity after a decade of abundance, said David Bahnsen, chief investment officer at wealth manager The Bahnsen Group in Newport Beach, California.

“Excessive quantitative easing over the past decade is going to result in excessive tightening and the market has no way to properly price what this means for valuations,” Bahnsen said.

On Wall Street, the fell 0.25%, the slid 0.73% and the dropped 1.31%.

In Europe, the pan-regional index lost 1.40% while MSCI’s gauge of global stock performance shed 0.95% and its emerging markets indes stocks slipped 1.02%.

Asian stocks swooned overnight to a two-year low after the Fed’s rate hike and outlook.

The median of Fed officials’ own outlook has U.S. rates at 4.4% by year’s end – 100 bps higher than their June projection – and even higher, at 4.6%, by the end of 2023.

Futures scrambled to catch up. The yield on two-year Treasuries hit a 15-year high of 4.135% in Asia and were last at 4.139%. Ten-year yields were up 18.8 basis points to 3.700%.

In Europe, Germany’s rate-sensitive 2-year bond yield rose to 1.897%, its highest since May 2011, and was last at 1.845

GRAPHIC: Yen sees historic drop


The Swiss National Bank also pulled up its rates by 75 basis points, only the second increase in 15 years. The move ended a seven-and-a-half-year spell with negative rates.

Also in Europe, Norway and Britain raised their rates by 50 bps with traders seeing plenty more coming too.

The pound’s modest rise on the day came after it had hit a 37-year low of $1.1213 overnight on the growing worries about the state of Britain’s finances. Sweden’s crown had also touched a record low despite the country’s steepest rate hike in a generation earlier this week.

The global economic outlook is helping drive the dollar higher as U.S. yields look attractive and investors think other economies look too fragile to sustain rates as high as those contemplated by the Fed.

Japan and China are the outliers and their currencies are sliding particularly hard.

The dollar’s rise has also sent emerging market currencies tumbling and punished cryptocurrencies and commodities.

Lira traders were left wincing again as Turkey, where inflation is now running at around 85%, defied economic orthodoxy and slashed another 100 basis points off its interest rates.

recently rose 0.81% to $83.61 per barrel and was at $90.57, up 0.82% on the day.

dropped 0.2% to $1,670.70 an ounce. rose 2.43% to $18,914.00.

GRAPHIC: Central banks ramp up fight against inflation

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