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Asia FX stems losses as dollar consolidates; yen digests Q4 recession

Published 02/14/2024, 11:49 PM
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Investing.com-- Most Asian currencies moved little on Thursday as mild consolidation in the dollar offered some relief, while the Japanese yen firmed as expectations of government intervention offset data indicating an economic recession.

Regional currencies were still reeling from a hotter-than-expected U.S. inflation reading, which saw traders further scale back expectations of early interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. 

A slew of Fed officials also warned that sticky inflation will keep the bank from easing interest rates early. The dollar surged to three-month highs earlier this week, but fell slightly in overnight trade.

The dollar index and dollar index futures both moved little in Asian trade, and remained within sight of their highest level since mid-November. 

Yen losses limited by intervention watch; economy enters recession

The yen rose 0.2% on Thursday, but hovered around its weakest level since November. The currency also broke past the 150 level to the dollar earlier this week.

But further losses in the yen were held back by a slew of Japanese officials warning that they were watching for any drastic moves in the yen, which could herald some currency market intervention. Levels above 150 yen have attracted government intervention in the past.

Gross domestic product data showed Japan’s economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, entering a technical recession as private spending weakened further.

Weakness in the economy casts doubts over the Bank of Japan’s plans to begin raising interest rates in 2024. Analysts at ING said the trend was likely to delay the BOJ’s plans, and that they only expected a hike by June. 

Despite Thursday’s strength, the yen was still the worst-performing Asian currency this week amid growing concerns over higher-for-longer U.S. rates, which have been a key weight on the Japanese currency over the past two years. 

Broader Asian currencies moved in a flat-to-low range, but were nursing steep losses this week as U.S. rate concerns dented sentiment towards the region. 

The Australian dollar fell 0.1% and hovered near three-month lows as data showed that Australia’s labor market cooled further in January- a trend that gives the Reserve Bank lesser impetus to hike interest rates further.

The Indian rupee and the Singapore dollar were flat, while the South Korean won fell 0.4%.

The Chinese yuan fell 0.1% in offshore trade, as mainland markets remained closed for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

The Indonesian rupiah fell 0.4%, ducking a rally in the stock market after Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto appeared poised to win the country’s presidency.

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