Yen falls as demand for safe-haven assets continues

by Jonathan Adams

The Japanese yen fell as the rush into safe-haven assets continued amid rising risk appetite, while the euro paused before Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting

The Japanese yen fell on Wednesday as the rush into safe-haven assets during the summer continued to unwind on the back of rising risk appetite, while the euro paused before Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting.

The yen had rocketed towards a 2019 high as investors in August fretted about the prospect of a global recession and selloff. Forex traders often buy the yen in times of uncertainty because of Japan’s vast current account surplus and because they believe Japanese investors will bring their money home when international markets tumble.

But with broader stock markets recovering on hopes of easing U.S.-China tensions and diminishing risks of a no-deal Brexit before several key central bank meetings, the yen is now weakening.

Yen weakness has been reinforced overnight by speculation that China will implement further measures to ease the negative economic impact from the trade war with the U.S., MUFG analysts said in a note.

The yen was last down 0.2% at 107.73 yen, some way from the 105 levels of late August.

Broader risk appetite fed through into gains for both the Australian and New Zealand dollars, which were up 0.1% each.

The offshore yuan shed gains and was last down 0.1% at 7.1136 yuan per dollar.

Elsewhere, investor focus for now is centred on the ECB meeting on Thursday. Expectations that policymakers will push interest rates even further into negative territory have weighed on the euro, which has shed 3% since June.

The single currency was little changed at $1.1044, with bets divided on the likely scope and style of any stimulus.

The dollar index ticked 0.1% higher at 98.414.

Nobody really wants to commit yet, said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at Gain Capital in Singapore.

He said there was the trade-war boost last week, it’s filtered through this week, and so markets are taking a bit of a breather. Now it’s in that little in-between stage – what’s going to keep that value going?

The ECB decision is likely to set the tone for upcoming rate-setting decisions by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan next week, and for the broader global risk appetite.

Sterling edged lower to $1.2349, but was near its six-week high of $1.2385 hit earlier in the week.

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