Morning Bid: Yen traders on tenterhooks

By Thomson Reuters Mar 28, 2024 | 12:34 AM

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Vidya Ranganathan.

It’s another day of nail-biting for currency traders as the will-they-won’t-they debate swirls on Japan’s yen-buying intervention. Friday’s holiday in most of the world, barring Japan, China and some parts of U.S. markets, makes them all the more nervous.

The currency’s brief slide on Wednesday to a 34-year low near 152 per dollar triggered an emergency meeting of Japan’s three main monetary authorities, which market participants interpreted as imminent direct intervention to stop what those authorities consider speculative currency trading.

The dollar has pulled back to a 151.30-151.50 yen range, a move that will extend if hedge funds and speculators start covering their substantial short yen positions.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities are trying to mitigate the fallout of yen weakness on the yuan, which hit a four-month low last week.

In Europe, the data calendar is unexciting: UK final fourth-quarter GDP data and German employment numbers.

Britain’s GDP shrank 0.3% in the final quarter of 2023 and 0.1% in the quarter before, meeting the definition of a technical recession widely used in Europe. The economy returned to growth in January.

In Germany, the Bundesbank has already said Europe’s biggest economy was possibly in recession in the first quarter of 2024. Germany has struggled for the past year with surging energy prices and rising borrowing costs, and the central bank’s analysis did not point to any meaningful recovery.

Still, the Bundesbank said firms continue to hold on to workers and unemployment may rise only slightly in the coming quarter.

The U.S. releases the Federal Reserve’s favoured inflation measure on Friday even as markets there are shut.

The core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index is estimated to have risen 0.3% in February, which would keep the annual pace at 2.8%. Analysts see the headline index up 0.4% for the month and 2.4% for the year.

Key developments that could influence markets on Thursday:

Data: UK Q4 GDP, U.S. Q4 GDP, German employment, U.S. consumer spending, U.S. University of Michigan consumer sentiment

Earnings: Scout24, Sofina

Debt auctions: UK reopening of one-month, three-month and six-month government debt

(By Vidya Ranganathan; Editing by Christopher Cushing)