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Japan spent $62 billion supporting yen in April-May: govt

Japan spent $62 billion supporting yen in April-May: govt
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Japan said Friday that it spent about 62 billion dollars to bolster the yen over the past five weeks, when it intervened in forex markets for the first time since 2022 after the currency hit a 34-year low.

Finance ministry data showed that forex intervention operations totaled 9.79 trillion yen ($62 billion) between April 26 and May 29.

Shortly after Friday’s data was released, one dollar bought 157.26 yen, compared with 156.83 yen earlier in the day.

The Japanese currency has cratered from around 115 per dollar before Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

This plunge is due in part to the Bank of Japan‘s maverick policy of maintaining ultra-low interest rates while other central banks have hiked theirs.

In early May, the yen weakened to its lowest level since 1990, but then suddenly jumped more than three percent.

That stoked speculation among market-watchers that the government had sold dollars and bought yen for the second time in a week to support the Japanese currency.

At the time, authorities were tight-lipped on whether they had stepped in, saying intervention data would be disclosed in the end-of-month ministry report.

By comparing forecasts to Bank of Japan deposits, brokers estimated 9.4 trillion yen had been spent overall.

Japan’s government last intervened in markets to support the yen in October 2022, when it spent 6.3 trillion yen on forex intervention operations.

Authorities also sold dollars in September 2022 in an intervention that cost 2.8 trillion yen. That marked the first time since 1998 they had made such a move.

Analysts said the most recent intervention boosted the beleaguered currency, but may not prop it up long-term.

Japan has “a lot of firepower” for interventions with about $1.1 trillion of forex reserves, said Carol Kong, economist and currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

But “interventions might not be a good idea at this time because there is little prospect of US interest rates declining in the near term”, she warned in April.

“In other words, interventions might be very costly to have the same effects on the yen as in 2022.”

A weaker yen is good for Japanese exporters and foreign visitors, but it makes imports and outbound travel more expensive.

In March, the Bank of Japan hiked interest rates for the first time in 17 years, but said it would take a steady approach to normalising monetary policy.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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