The dollar rose to a one-month high above 144 yen on Thursday as monetary policy divergence was front of investors’ minds ahead of crucial U.S. inflation data later in the day that should guide the path for interest rates.
Meanwhile, the yuan edged further from a one-month trough after the People’s Bank of China again set a stronger-than-expected mid-point guidance rate in a sign of displeasure at recent weakness. That helped lift the Australian and New Zealand dollars from near two-month lows.
The dollar rose as high as 144.08 yen for the first time since July 7 as markets took the view that the Bank of Japan will be slow to exit stimulus, even with traders mostly betting the Fed is done with rate hikes.
A rise in crude oil to the highest since January also weighed on Japan’s currency, because the resource-poor nation is a major oil importer.
“The fact that energy prices have risen for almost seven weeks, that’s certainly weighed on the yen,” said Tony Sycamore, a market analyst at IG.
A break above 145 would open the way potentially to 148 “if we get the U.S. dollar flexing again after the CPI,” he said.
Despite the BOJ’s decision to relax its control of long-term yields at the end of last month, policymakers have stressed the change was a technical tweak aimed at extending the shelf life of stimulus, chiefly defined by the negative short-term interest rate.
“Weak Japanese labour cash earnings data earlier this week has increased our conviction that the BOJ will leave interest rates unchanged at ‑0.1% over the rest of the year,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Kristina Clifton wrote in a note.