Asian Currency

Morning Bid: Bank of Japan center stage, US tech supports | WKZO | Everything Kalamazoo

By Jamie McGeever

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

Asia’s market spotlight on Friday falls on the Bank of Japan’s policy announcement, as the cat-and-mouse game of when or if Tokyo intervenes in the currency market continues, and investors digest the latest U.S. mega tech earnings reports.

The BOJ decision and guidance from Governor Kazuo Ueda top the regional calendar, which also includes Tokyo consumer price inflation for April, producer price inflation from Australia and industrial production from Singapore.

Investor sentiment and overall risk appetite in early Asian trade on Friday will be determined in large part by the results from Microsoft, Alphabet and Intel reported after the closing bell on Wall Street on Thursday.

Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet were resounding beats. Shares in Alphabet jumped as much as 14% and Microsoft 6% in after-hours trading, but Intel shares slumped as much as 7%.

Risk appetite was dealt a heavy blow on Thursday by surprisingly high U.S. inflation and soft GDP growth numbers, and the leap in bond yields to new highs for the year will do little to improve the mood in Asia and across emerging markets.

On the other hand, U.S. stocks on Thursday closed off their lows and after-hours earnings were mostly upbeat. If Asian stocks hold the line on Friday, they will register their best week since July last year.

All eyes, however, are on Tokyo, where the BOJ is expected to keep its key interest rate on hold and project inflation to stay near its 2% target in coming years on prospects of steady wage gains.

But the yen’s slide to a fresh 34-year low against the dollar means Ueda will have to walk a delicate line in maintaining a steady, calibrated path to exiting ultra-easy policy while at the same time addressing the huge pressure bearing down on the currency.

Erring too dovish risks pouring even more fuel on the current yen-selling flames, while an overly hawkish stance could threaten GDP growth and spark unwanted volatility in financial markets.

One option policymakers are considering, according to Jiji news agency, is weighing up measures to reduce the central bank’s government bond purchases. This would likely push down the BOJ’s bond holdings, ushering in a phase of quantitative tightening, Jiji said.

The yen goes into the BOJ decision at a 34-year low well below 155.00 per dollar and down 9% this year, Once again, it is on the defensive against other Asian currencies, much to the likely displeasure of policymakers in capitals across the continent.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sidestepped the issue of Japanese intervention, but said such instances should ideally be rare and only in response to excessive volatility.

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

– Bank of Japan policy announcement

– Japan Tokyo inflation (April)

– Australia PPI inflation (Q1)

(Reporting and Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Josie Kao)

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