Yen eases as BoJ keeps policy steady, stocks mixed

SINGAPORE: The Japanese yen edged down on Tuesday after the Bank of Japan(BoJ) held policy steady, shedding some gains made following deadly incidents in Germany and Turkey, while regional stocks were mixed after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s upbeat comments.
The BoJ maintained its pledge to guide short-term rates at minus 0.1 per cent and the 10-year government bond yield around zero per cent, while offering a more upbeat view of the economy than in its November 1 assessment.
Stating that the economy continues to recover moderately as a trend, the central bank signalled its conviction that a generally weak yen and a rebound in overseas demand will lift prospects for a solid recovery. The US dollar advanced 0.1 per cent to 117.335 yen, after closing 0.7 per cent lower on Monday.
The greenback has risen 11.6 per cent versus the yen since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, on his promises of increased fiscal stimulus.
Trump formally won the US presidency on Monday after receiving more than the 270 Electoral College votes required to be elected.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan pared earlier gains to trade little changed.
Japan’s Nikkei, flat before the BoJ decision, rose 0.1 per cent.
Reduced volumes ahead of the Christmas holidays tempered buying in some Asian markets.
China’s CSI 300 index slid 0.6 per cent, and Taiwan shares retreated 0.3 per cent, as did Hong Kong stocks.
Wall Street ended higher on Monday, albeit below the session’s highs, as optimism over Yellen’s comments about the US labour market offset some of the risk aversion following the deaths in Germany and Turkey.
“Yellen painted a very positive picture in her commentary overnight,” said James Woods, global investment strategist at Rivkin Securities in Sydney.
“The (Federal Open Market Committee) has done a fantastic job preparing the market for this second and subsequent hikes.
Importantly they have continued to stress that the FOMC remains data dependent, only hiking when the underlying fundamentals of the economy support this.”
Still, markets were rattled after a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday evening, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others in what Germany’s interior minister said looked like an attack.
The euro, which slid 0.5 per cent to $1.0401 on Monday, recovered 0.1 per cent to $1.0413 on Tuesday.
Pressure also came on the euro after the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot and killed at an art gallery in Ankara, the capital.
The Turkish lira was steady at 3.5325 per dollar on Tuesday after falling 0.7 per cent on Monday.
The rouble was also little changed on Tuesday at 61.9048 per dollar.
It slumped to as low as 62.0907 per dollar on Monday but recovered to end the day up 0.3 per cent at 61.8475.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global peers, climbed 0.2 per cent on Monday after Yellen’s upbeat labour market assessment.
It was steady at 103.11 on Tuesday.
Gold, which rose 0.4 per cent on Monday, was little changed at $1,138.20 on Tuesday. Oil pulled back as traders began to unwind positions in the run-up to the holiday season. US crude slid 0.4 per cent to $51.91 per barrel after closing up 0.4 per cent on Monday.
Global benchmark Brent slipped 0.2 per cent to $54.82.— Reuters