Home Economy News Morning Bid: Yen wary of holiday calm as Q1 curtain falls

Morning Bid: Yen wary of holiday calm as Q1 curtain falls


By Jamie McGeever

(Reuters) – A look at the day ahead in Asian markets.

Markets in Asia on Friday will be quieter and probably more range-bound than usual with most of the rest of the world closed for Good Friday, but there is always the chance of outsized moves when liquidity is so thin.

Especially if Japanese authorities take advantage of the calm to intervene in the currency market and pull the yen up from this week’s 34-year low near 152.00 per dollar. 

The main event for world markets on Friday is U.S. PCE inflation data which will land when the Asian day is over, and most of Europe and U.S. stock and bond markets are closed for Easter.

The first quarter draws to a close with global sentiment riding pretty high after revised fourth quarter U.S. growth and inflation data on Thursday boosted the ‘soft landing’ or even ‘no landing’ scenario.

In Asia on Friday, investors face a batch of Japanese indicators including unemployment, retail sales, industrial production and Tokyo inflation. 

There’s potential for decent moves in the yen – thin liquidity, a raft of top-tier domestic data and the currency already languishing at its lowest levels in decades.

A double whammy of soft Tokyo inflation and punchy U.S. inflation could push the dollar back up to 152 yen and test Japan’s resolve. 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday waded in to the debate: “We will monitor currency moves with a high sense of urgency and respond appropriately without ruling out any options to deal with excessive currency moves.”

Whether Japan wants to trigger a potentially sizeable move in the exchange rate and spike in volatility on the last day of Japan’s fiscal year remains to be seen. But traders will be on their guard.

Japanese stocks will be looking to rebound from a 1.5% slump on Thursday but may struggle if the yen strengthens further.

Chinese stocks, meanwhile, will be looking just to close the month in the green. They jumped on Thursday after the South China Morning Post reported that President Xi Jinping has urged the central bank to buy government bonds as part of a broader stimulus push.

There may be further signs that China is seeking to engage with the international community on trade and business that could boost investor sentiment. 

After Xi’s meeting this week with top U.S. business leaders, commerce minister Wang Wentao will travel to Europe soon for discussions about the European Commission’s investigation into whether China’s electric vehicle industry has benefited from unfair subsidies. 

But the property sector black cloud looms large. Several developers on Thursday reported weaker 2023 earnings and Country Garden, China’s largest private developer, said it will delay its 2023 results due to “continuous volatility” in what is an “increasingly complex” sector.

Here are key developments that could provide more direction to markets on Friday:

– Japan Tokyo inflation (March)

– Japan retail sales, industrial production, unemployment (February)

– South Korea retail sales, industrial production (February) 

(By Jamie McGeever; Editing by Josie Kao)

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