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Disappointing economic reports in both the U.S. and Japan are helping the yen post gains against the dollar. Japanese stocks, which have been highly correlated to movements in the dollar-yen pair of late, fell more than 2% to a 3-week low leading some to question whether the rally in Japanese-focused ETFs is now a thing of the past.
As with the U.S., aggressive monetary easing in Japan is not translating into falling government bond prices, especially when the easing is the central bank buying government bonds. The 10-year JGB (JGBL, JGBT) yield falls to 0.55%, the lowest in about a decade even as a new regime has made devaluation of the yen its key economic policy. Top-gaining Japanese ETFs last week: DFJ +4.3%, JSC +4.2%, SCJ +3.4%, FJP +3.2%.
The Nikkei dives 2.4% and the yen (FXY) strengthens 0.4% as new BOJ Governor Kuroda's ex-colleagues express doubt about his vows to hit a 2% inflation target. Included was the man formerly known as Mr. Yen for his ability to divine (and drive) the currency's moves - Eisuke Sakakibara - saying the inflation rate "will never reach 2% ... the deflation is structural." EWJ -0.6% , DXJ -0.4% premarket.
Japan's main opposition party, the DPJ, plans to oppose the nomination of Kikuo Iwata as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan in a vote on Friday. Support from smaller parties should enable the government to win approval for Iwata - who's considered to be a strong advocate of easing policies - in the upper house, where it lacks a majority. However, that's not stopped the yen from strengthening and shares from falling. The Nikkei closed at -0.6% and the dollar is -0.3% at ¥95.78.
The yen (FXY) resumes its bear market, tumbling 1% vs. the dollar to its weakest level since 2009 - the dollar now buying ¥95.74. The Nikkei responds, gaining 2.6% overnight, also to levels not seen since 2009. EWJ - unhedged against the currency - up just 0.3% premarket. Keep an eye on DXJ for the big movement today.
As widely anticipated, the Bank of Japan has left its monetary policy unchanged in Masaaki Shirakawa's last meeting as governor, with the BOJ's key interest rate staying at 0-0.1% and its asset asset-purchase program at ¥101T. The real action is expected to come at the bank's next meeting in early April, which is set to be led by prospective governor and uber dove Haruhiko Kuroda. (PR)
Gundlach: Japan is the "pace car" in the great global debasement race, he says, continuing to be bullish on Japanese stocks (EWJ, DWJ) and bearish on the yen (FXY). One interesting slide shows an explosion higher in consumer confidence there since Abe made his yen devaluation policy clear. He's not bearish on JGBs however, as the BOJ - like the Fed - has a big checkbook and can buy up all the debt the government can issue.
More on Gundlach: "Can you imagine (the President) walking around the U.S. saying 'I'm going to inflate. I want to inflate. My policy is inflation," he asks. That's what the President wants, says Gundlach, but at least he doesn't say it. In Japan, the PM is actually saying it. He sees the yen (FXY) headed to 200 to the dollar (93.37 now).
Haruhiko Kuroda - nominated to be next BOJ governor - ratchets up expectations for the central bank's first meeting under his leadership (April 3-4), telling parliament he will do whatever it takes to end deflation. Adding a bit of humor to his confirmation hearing, he says the BOJ's easing isn't aimed at weakening the yen. Dollar/yen -0.1% at ¥93.43. The NIkkei +0.7%.
The yen is lower against the dollar following Haruhiko Kuroda's nomination as the BOJ governor, with the greenback +0.2% at ¥92.41. The Nikkei rises 2.1% after falling sharply in the previous two sessions. Kuroda has advocated an inflation target for the BOJ for over a decade and reckons Japan can hit 2% within two years.
As expected, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has nominated Asian Development Bank President and uber dove Haruhiko Kuroda as the next Governor of the Bank of Japan. Abe also picked academic Kikuo Iwata, who backs unconventional monetary policy, and BOJ official Hiroshi Nakaso as deputy governors. The nominations will need opposition support to receive parliamentary approval.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is reportedly set to nominate Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda as BOJ Governor. It's hard to think of a bigger dove. "The Bank of Japan must be prepared to do anything and everything" to achieve its 2% inflation target, he said in a January interview. Look for a big opening pop in the Nikkei, and a big opening drop in the yen.
Are investors having 2nd thoughts about the Abe trade - long Nikkei, short the yen (FXY)? Markets have lost count of the number of prime ministers promising change Japan's bureaucracy has chewed up and spit out (this is Abe's 2nd go-around). Market reaction to Abe's selection for next BOJ Governor will be key to seeing whether the stock rally, yen devaluation will continue. EWJ -0.7% premarket.
Just about the time George Soros lets leak he's been profitably short the yen is about the time he's probably covered. The yen (FXY) strengthens for a second session, the dollar -0.2% and buying ¥92.66. In concert, the Nikkei takes a breather, -1.2%. DXJ +8.8% YTD.
Yesterday's G-7 statement was meant to slow the pace of the yen's slide, not to signal concern over the currency's current level, according to a source within the group. "There was a concern it may overshoot." FXY +0.2% premarket. The yen's strength following yesterday's release and clarification had the Nikkei off 1% last night. DXJ -0.5% premarket.