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Dollar Stays in Range and Yen Creeps Higher Awaiting Fed Speech

September 21, 2020

Dollar

The USD held on to late-week gains on Monday, while the JPY and CNY each edged higher, as investors looked ahead to a number of U.S. Federal Reserve speakers this week and to a decision on the inclusion of Chinese government bonds in a global index.

Chinese bond-buying by foreigners has helped drive the yuan up more than 1% this month and it crept back toward a 16-month peak hit last week in early offshore trade, rising 0.2% to 6.7648 per dollar. Inclusion in the FTSE Russell World Government Bond Index is likely to boost inflows and support the currency. A decision from FTSE Russell is due on Thursday.

“People are trying to get in ahead of that,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia currency analyst Joe Capurso.

China’s benchmark lending rate is also fixed at 0100 GMT and is expected to be held steady for a fifth straight month. Other moves were modest and volumes light owing to a public holiday in Japan.

The DXY index was steady at 92.943, roughly in the middle of a range it has kept for about two months.

The EUR moved higher to $1.1847 and the pound moved up to $1.2933, though concerns about rising coronavirus cases in Europe and Brexit turmoil limited further gains.

European countries from Denmark to Greece announced new restrictions last week to curb surging infections, while Britain was reported to be considering a new national lockdown.

The yen, which had its best week since June last week, tacked on 0.07% to 104.50 per dollar. That is not far from a seven-week high of 104.27 hits on Friday, which came as uncertainty over everything from the U.S. election to the global economic recovery had investors seeking safety, and as U.S. real yields sink lower.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is due to appear before Congressional committees later this week while Fed committee members Charles Evans, Raphael Bostic, Lael Brainard, James Bullard, Mary Daly, and John Williams also make public speeches.

Their opinions on how the Fed should handle its more accommodative approach to inflation could drive further yen strength if they imply looser monetary policy settings.

“The yen is an attractive currency, I see no reason to sell it,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Melbourne brokerage Pepperstone, noting that real yields in Japan are positive.

“This makes the yen very attractive, especially against the pound and dollar, where real rates are not just negative but in the case of the Fed, they are actively seeking lower rates out.”

Elsewhere the NZD was flat at $0.6762, lagging a 0.2% gain in the AUD to $0.7301 ahead of an RBNZ rate-setting meeting later in the week. No policy changes are expected at the Wednesday RBNZ meeting, but hints at negative rates or adjustments to the bank’s large-scale asset purchase (LSAP) bond-buying programme could drive volatility in the kiwi.

“We don’t expect any change on policy, but the tone will be dovish and they may signal an intention to flex the pace of the LSAP more to help flatten the curve, which would take the pressure off the kiwi,” ANZ analysts said in a note on Monday.