Morning Bid: Playing the waiting game, Japan stirs

By Thomson Reuters Jun 10, 2024 | 4:46 PM

By Jamie McGeever

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

Asian markets look set to remain on the defensive on Tuesday, kept in check by rising bond yields, political shockwaves in Europe, a buoyant dollar and caution ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy decision later in the week.

That’s not necessarily a blanket outlook across the continent though – Japanese equities got the week off to a solid start, shrugging off a spike up Japanese Government Bond yields after revisions to first quarter GDP were stronger than expected and the yen fell broadly.

The economic calendar on Tuesday is light, with only South Korean current account figures, Philippines trade numbers and Australian business confidence on tap.

Japan’s GDP revisions on Monday will have boosted sentiment towards Japan and raised expectations that the Bank of Japan will press ahead with policy normalization at its policy meeting later this week.

The 10-year JGB yield jumped 4.5 basis points on Monday, its biggest rise in two months and enough to reverse half of last week’s decline.

The BOJ is widely expected to hold off following up on its historic 10-basis point rate hike in March – its first since 2007 – for at least a few months more.

Japanese swap markets aren’t fully pricing in another 10 bps of tightening until the BOJ’s September meeting, and are currently pointing towards a total 25 bps of rate hikes between now and the end of the year.

Instead, the BOJ is more likely this week to discuss cuts in its JGB purchases as part of efforts to unwind monetary stimulus and reduce its $5 trillion balance sheet.

But the yen will need more from the BOJ if it is to avoid falling back into the 158-160 per dollar zone that prompted two bouts of intervention from Tokyo recently. The yen on Monday slipped back below 157.00 per dollar.

The currency’s near-term fate, however, is probably in the dollar’s hands, and the greenback is on quite a ride right now. Last week, it was languishing at a two-month low against a basket of major currencies, but rebounded following Friday’s U.S. jobs report, and on Monday touched a one-month high.

Record closing highs on Wall Street and buoyant Treasury yields should continue to underpin the dollar, and that’s a combination that will probably weigh on emerging market assets more broadly.

If sentiment towards Japan is brightening, investors remain cool towards Chinese assets.

The CSI 300 index of blue chip shares and Shanghai Composite index both slumped on Friday to a six-week low. Chinese markets were closed on Monday so there could be outsized moves at the open on Tuesday as investors play catch-up for two global trading sessions.

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

– South Korea current account (April)

– Philippines trade (April)

– Australia business confidence (May)

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever)