Yen intervention worked so far; more RBA rate cuts ahead?

In this Asia Video Andrew Robinson, Correspondent for Saxo Capital Markets, analyses the effect of the Bank of Japan’s latest yen intervention and the sustainability of further actions before year end. He also comments on the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to cut rates, the first flow of PMI data in Asia and the noise surrounding the Chinese leader's visit to Europe this week.

Japan’s Finance Minister Jun Azumi put his money where his mouth was with unilateral intervention to weaken the yen. This is the third intervention this year with estimates suggesting it is the largest one of the three. So far it has had the intended effect with the USDJPY holding at around the 78.0 level. History however shows that it could be a longer term struggle to keep it there as after the previous two interventions this year it took only about five days for the rate to drop back to pre-intervention levels. Concerning other action it is unlikely the Bank of Japan will instigate other measures like a trading floor for the pair, similar to the Swiss National Bank’s action says Andrew. The timing of the intervention ahead of the Group of 20 leaders initially took the market by surprise but in hindsight as Finance Minister Azumi had in recent weeks spoken almost daily about the problem of the strong yen it was ultimately only a matter of time before the Bank of Japan took action.

Meanwhile the Reserve Bank of Australia cut the official interest rate by 25 basis points for the first time since April 2009. Whether this is this the beginning of a whole series of cuts or just a one-of is another story though and will depend largely on the development of the local economy and the degree of uncertainty globally. How effective the passing on of the cut by commercial banks to consumers will be on their spending behaviour will also remain to be seen.

Monthly Purchasing Managers Index data in the Asian region paints a mixed picture about the health of the manufacturing sectors with most attention on China and somewhat different stories being told by the official Chinese data and private sector equivalent report.

China is also drawing attention from its leader Hu Jintao’s visit to Europe these days in the lead up to the G-20 summit at the end of the week. Expectations are increasing that China will commit to supporting the European Financial Stability Facility but any announcement is hardly likely to occur before the G-20 meeting.

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