The yen weakened beyond 99 per dollar for the first time since May 2009 on speculation Bank of Japan measures to fight deflation announced last week will further debase the currency.
The yen dropped against all its 16 major counterparts for a third day after BOJ officials said last week they will boost monthly bond purchases to 7.5 trillion yen ($80 billion), exceeding the 5.2 trillion yen forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The dollar declined for a fourth day versus the euro before Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke speaks today. South Korea’s won slid to an eight-month low as military tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated.
“It’s more of the same right now and the conversation has diverged into where’s the money going to end up,” Geoffrey Yu, a senior currency strategist at UBS AG in London, said in a phone interview of yen depreciation. “The yen flows, at the end of the day, they’re driven by yield.”
The yen fell 0.9% to 98.49 per dollar at 9:46 a.m. New York time, after sliding to 99.01, the weakest level since May 8, 2009. It last traded weaker than 100 on April 14, 2009. The currency tumbled 3.4% last week.
The yen declined 1.1% to 128.17 per euro after depreciating to 128.84, the least since January 2010. The dollar dropped 0.2% to $1.3020 per euro.
South Africa’s currency gained 0.7% versus the dollar amid speculation monetary stimulus by global central banks will continue, boosting demand for high-yielding assets. The rand rallied against the dollar to a fourth day, rising to 9.0305.
Poland’s currency rose 0.8% to the greenback, the most of the dollar’s 31 most-traded peers, climbing for a third day and reaching 3.1726.
French, Belgian and Austrian bond yields fell to records as investors sought higher-yielding alternatives to German bunds amid a flood of liquidity policy makers to revive economic growth. Italian and Spanish securities advanced, with Spain’s two-year yields dropping below 2% for the first time since October 2010.
The BOJ on April 4 suspended a cap on some bond holdings and dropped a limit on debt maturities. Policy makers set a two- year horizon for their goal of 2% inflation. The central bank’s next policy meeting is on April 26.
“We expect the market to price in extra policy announcements as we move towards the 26 April meeting,” Barclays Plc currency strategists including Chris Walker in London wrote in a note to clients. The bank forecasts the yen will drop to 103 per dollar within three months, compared with the median forecast for it to trade at 95 by the end of the second quarter, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The yen pared declines earlier today after the Finance Ministry said Japan’s current-account surplus, the widest measure of trade, was larger than economists forecast.
The surplus was 637.4 billion yen in February compared with the median economist estimate of 457.5 billion yen in a Bloomberg News survey. The current account was in deficit for three months through January
The yen has slumped 21.2% in the past six months, the worst performance of 10 developed market currencies tracked by the Bloomberg Correlation Weighted Indexes. The dollar gained 1.7% and the euro climbed 2.1%.
“Levels around 100 yen in the very short-term are definitely possible,” said Lutz Karpowitz, a senior currency strategist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “Any doubts the BOJ would be very expansionary are off the table now and measures might even be increased if they find out it is not enough to create inflation.”
Demand for the dollar was limited before Bernanke speaks at the Fed Bank of Atlanta 2013 Financial Markets Conference today. The U.S. central bank’s next policy meeting is April 30-May 1.
The Fed is buying $85 billion of bonds a month in the third round of its quantitative-easing strategy to spur the economy. While policy makers reiterated after their March meeting the U.S. central bank will maintain its purchases until there’s significant improvement in the labor market, Bernanke told reporters the pace may be altered if warranted by a healing economy.
The South Korean won slid as heightened risk of conflict with North Korea spurred outflows of foreign funds. The currency weakened 0.8% to close at 1,140.15 per dollar in Seoul after depreciating to 1,140.36, the weakest since July 27.
“Tensions with North Korea are intensifying, making investors nervous,” said Jeon Seung Ji, analyst at Samsung Futures Inc. in Seoul. Authorities “may try to take action if they find market reactions are excessive, while investors will also eye the yen-won movement.”
Global funds sold more Korean stocks than they bought, as they have on all but two days in the past three weeks after President Park Geun Hye’s office said the North may fire a missile around April 10.
North Korea last week warned embassies to evacuate as it won’t be able to guarantee the safety of foreign missions from April 10 in the event of a conflict. The regime told South Korean companies to leave the Gaeseong joint industrial complex by the same date.