Japan Finance Minister says watching rising FX volatility as yen hits new lows

Japan Finance Minister says watching rising FX volatility as yen hits new lows
Japan Finance Minister says watching rising FX volatility as yen hits new lows
© Reuters. Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki attends the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia July 16, 2022. Sonny Tumbelaka/Pool via REUTERS

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki on Tuesday reiterated that sharp yen moves were “undesirable” and that he was watching rising volatility in the exchange market with a “great sense of urgency” as the currency hit a fresh 24-year low.

It was Suzuki’s latest verbal warning on the currency but it was not considered as strong as comments made in July, when a fall beyond 139 to the dollar prompted him to say he was “concerned”. Suzuki’s comments on Tuesday were made before the yen hit the new low.

The yen on Tuesday weakened beyond 141 yen per dollar for the first time since 1998, last trading at 141.17 per dollar. It has slumped nearly 20% since the start of the year, on diverging monetary policies between Japan and the United States.

U.S. dollar’s surge vs yen https://graphics.reuters.com/JAPAN-ECONOMY/YEN/zjpqkreolpx/chart.png

While the Bank of Japan has vowed to stick to powerful monetary stimulus to back a fragile economy, the Federal Reserve is expected to continue raising rates for the time being.

“It’s important for currencies to move stably, reflecting economic fundamentals,” Suzuki told reporters at the finance ministry.

When pressed to comment on the impact of a weak yen on the economy, Suzuki said “a weak yen has both merit and demerit, but sharp moves are undesirable.”

Suzuki said on Friday that Tokyo will take “appropriate” action as needed after the yen hit its lowest level in over two decades last week.

Some analysts said the fact that Suzuki did not use the word “concerned” then suggested intervention in the currency market may not be imminent.

“Intervention could be possible technically but it’s difficult politically to sell the dollar at a time when the U.S. is fighting inflation,” said Daisaku Ueno, chief FX strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ (NYSE:) Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) Securities.

“That may be a reason why the minister toned down a tad on the verbal warning.”

Japan last intervened by selling the dollar and buying the yen in the foreign exchange market in June 1998 when the yen fell to beyond 146 to the U.S. currency.

(This story refiles to correct yen move vs dollar since start of year in paragraph 3)

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