Morning Bid: Bank of Japan goes big

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 12:32 AM

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Ankur Banerjee

In a well-telegraphed move, the Bank of Japan delivered what investors had been waiting for – ending its negative interest rate policy after eight years. The pivot marks the country’s first rate hike since 2007.

Not just that, the central bank abandoned yield curve control, a policy in place since 2016 that capped long-term interest rates around zero, and also said it would no long purchase risky assets such as exchange-traded funds (ETF) and Japanese real estate investment trusts.

And just like that, the era of cheap money has come to an end and its impact across the globe, especially in the murkier world of FX carry trades remains to be seen.

Several media reports over the past few weeks had indicated the likelihood of these sweeping moves and that perhaps explains the initial market reaction. Japanese shares were volatile and then rose, while the yen slid to 150 per dollar.

BOJ Governor Kazuo Ueda is due to speak at 0630 GMT to further explain the move and the market will focus on the tone to gauge whether the last dove in the developed market is ready to tighten more.

The BOJ though has pledged to maintain accommodative policy and traders expect rates to remain at zero for some time.

The Reserve Bank of Australia was the other central bank in focus, after it decided to leave interest rates unchanged on Tuesday. The decision was expected though the RBA further watered down its tightening bias, leading the Australian dollar lower.

That left the Aussie/yen cross, often a good measure of investor desire for carry trades and global risk appetite in general, little changed in Asian hours.

European bourses are due to open lower, futures indicate, as traders await the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy decision on Wednesday.

The central bank is widely expected to stand pat but the focus will be on its economic projections and how many rate cuts it estimates for the year.

Key developments that could influence markets on Tuesday:

Economic events: Wages in euro zone for Q4, euro zone labour costs for Q4; Germany ZEW economic sentiment for March

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)