The Japanese yen
weakened past 150 against the U.S. dollar Thursday, hitting a key psychological level that hasn’t been seen since August 1990.
The Bank of Japan’s two-day meeting is slated for next week. Policymakers have ruled out a rate hike in order to defend against further weakening of the currency.
On Thursday, Japan’s 10-year government debt yields
breached the 0.25% ceiling that the central bank vowed to defend – last standing at 0.252%. The yield on the 20-year bond also rose to its highest since September 2015.
The Bank of Japan also announced emergency bond-buying operations Thursday. It offered to buy 100 billion yen ($666.98 million) worth of Japanese government bonds with maturities of 10-20 years and another tranche worth 100 billion yen with maturities of 5-10 years.
The central bank has repeatedly vowed to buy an unlimited amount of bonds at a fixed rate in order to cap 10-year government debt yields at 0.25% as part of its stimulus measures for the economy.
On Thursday, Reuters reported Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said the government will take “appropriate steps against excess volatility.”
“Recent rapid and one-sided yen declines are undesirable. We absolutely cannot tolerate excessively volatile moves driven by speculative trading,” he said.
When asked how concerning is USD/JPY reaching levels around 150, ANZ chief economist Richard Yetsenga said he’s “not that worried.”
“I don’t think we’re into destabilizing currency territory yet,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
“There’s lots of emotive words around it, but what problems has it engendered?” he said.
Shortly after the Bank of Japan’s latest decision to maintain low interest rates to support the country’s sluggish economy last month, officials confirmed they intervened to support the currency against further weakening.
That intervention briefly pushed the yen to 142 against the dollar. The spread between the highest and lowest points intraday was also at its widest since 2016.
In April 1990, the yen traded around 159.8 against the dollar and last breached 160 in December 1986.