Japan’s Finance Minister Sees ‘Speculative’ Moves in Currency Market

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
Examples of Japanese yen banknotes, November 21, 2022.

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Monday there were some speculative moves in the currency market that did not reflect economic fundamentals, repeating his warning against excessive yen declines.

“We will watch currency market developments with a strong sense of urgency, and will respond appropriately against excessive moves without ruling out any options,” Suzuki told parliament.

Suzuki said various factors are driving currency moves such as the Bank of Japan’s decision to end negative interest rates, Japan’s current account balance, price moves, geopolitical risks, as well as market players’ sentiment and speculative trades.

“As for the yen’s recent declines, we believe there are some speculative moves that do not reflect fundamentals when taking into account domestic and overseas economic as well as price developments,” he said.

The yen JPY=EBS has been on a downtrend despite the BOJ’s decision on March 19 to end eight years of negative interest rates, and hit a 34-year low against the dollar at 151.975 last week. It was fetching 151.315 per dollar early on Monday.

With the BOJ’s policy rate still stuck around zero, expectations the gap between U.S. and Japanese interest rates will remain wide are giving traders an excuse to keep selling the yen, analysts say.

Suzuki declined to comment when asked by a lawmaker whether the yen’s sharp declines after the BOJ’s exit from negative rates had been within or beyond his expectations.

“It’s important for currency rates to move stably reflecting fundamentals. Excess volatility is undesirable,” Suzuki said.

The yen has rebounded since Japanese monetary authorities held an emergency meeting on the weak yen on Wednesday, which was brought forward from Thursday, to issue their strongest warning to date against excessive yen declines.

Japan intervened in the currency market in 2022, first in September and again in October, as the yen slid towards 152 to the dollar.