U.S. Markets

Dollar edges lower vs. yen with Bank of Japan decision on tap

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar was slightly lower against the Japanese yen on Monday, as investors braced for the possibility that the Bank of Japan will announce changes to its monetary easing policy on Tuesday at the conclusion of a two-day meeting.

A U.S. Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

The dollar was 0.05 percent lower against the yen at 110.98 yen.

“I think there is some nervousness ahead of tomorrow’s results of the BoJ meeting,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

The BoJ will consider changes to its massive stimulus program to make it more sustainable, such as allowing greater swings in interest rates and widening its stock-buying selection, Reuters reported last week, citing people familiar with the central bank’s thinking.

The changes, although small, would be the first since 2016 and the latest sign Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is gradually walking away from his radical stimulus program deployed five years ago to shock the public out of a persisting deflationary mindset.

“While I do think the knee jerk will be JPY stronger, USD/JPY lower, I think this is such a consensus trade now that it will be hard for the pair to run for very long,” Brad Bechtel, managing director, at Jefferies in New York, said in a client note.

In the options market, heightened premiums showed investors wary of a hit to USD/JPY JPY=.

The euro EUR= rose 0.46 percent against the dollar, as it recovered from its worst weekly performance against the greenback in six weeks.

“The euro is a bit firmer, like it was on Friday, which is typical of the recent price action pattern, where the euro gets stronger on Fridays and often there is some follow-through on Mondays,” said Chandler.

The euro’s gains follow a sharp decline last week after the European Central Bank reaffirmed that rates would stay low through the summer of 2019. Analysts said the rebound was largely because traders felt it had been oversold last week.

German and Spanish inflation remained slightly above the European Central Bank’s price stability target in July, preliminary data showed on Monday, supporting the ECB’s cautious approach of winding down its monetary stimulus only gradually.

The U.S. dollar index .DXY, which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, was down 0.38 percent at 94.316, ahead of economic data and central bank monetary policy meetings this week.

Besides the BoJ, other central bank news is likely to be on investors’ radar this week as the Federal Reserve concludes its meeting on Wednesday and the Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates on Thursday.

Investors do not see the Fed raising interest rates this week. U.S. economic data this week, including data on payrolls, is also in focus, analysts said.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s crown jumped against the dollar after forecast-beating second-quarter GDP numbers from the country.

The pound rose 0.25 percent against the dollar, even as its modest gains reflected concern among investors about the currency’s prospects ahead of the widely anticipated interest rake hike. [nL4N1UQ514]

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Steve Orlofsky