Bonds gain, dollar pares losses as BOJ pledges to keep rates ‘very low’
Bond prices gained on Tuesday while the dollar pared early losses on the yen amid guarded reaction to what was seen as only minor tweaks to the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) ultra easy monetary policy.
Following its two-day board meeting, the BoJ pledged to keep interest rates “very low” for the time being. It also took measures to make its massive stimulus program more flexible, reflecting its forecast that it would take time for inflation to hit its 2 percent target.
The announcement provided some comfort to bond investors as the policy tweaks didn’t appear to show any inclination from the BOJ to make a radical shift from its accommodative stance.
In response, yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds (JGBs) fell 3 basis points to pull away from a 1-1/2 year high of 0.11 percent while those on 40-year bonds slid nearly 9 basis points. The move in JGBs pushed 10-year Treasury yields lower too.
However, the reaction in currencies was muted as some market participants awaited further clarity. The dollar pared losses against the yen and was last flat at 111.06. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was barely changed at 94.314.
“The market is definitely cautious at this point. Hopefully we’ll get some more clarity when Kuroda speaks later today,” said Rodrigo Catril, senior forex analyst at National Australia Bank.
BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. (0630 GMT) to explain the policy decision.
“At this point, it’s very unclear what the BoJ means by allowing long-term rates to go up and down. That is as vague as it can be,” Catril added.
“The proof will be in how they react in the open market operations. It will be interesting to see how they allow 10-year JGB rates to increase. That will set a tone for the market.”
Elsewhere, Asian share markets pared some of their early losses as easy monetary policy is seen as positive for risk assets although a global rout in technology shares put a lid on gains.
Japan’s Nikkei was last down 0.1 percent, after falling more than 0.5 percent earlier in the day. South Korea’s Kospi index dipped 0.1 percent despite solid second-quarter results from Samsung Electronics which posted a 5.7 percent rise in profit.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was also down 0.3 percent while Australian shares were mostly unchanged..
Overnight in Wall Street, the Dow and the S&P 500 each lost 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq skidded 1.4 percent largely led by losses in tech stocks.
The technology index crumbled 1.8 percent as disappointing results from Facebook, Twitter and Netflix spurred concerns about future growth for a sector that has led U.S. equities to record highs.
Investors will next turn their attention to other central bank decisions this week. The U.S. Federal Reserve concludes its policy meeting on Wednesday and the Bank of England is seen raising interest rates on Thursday. Month-end macroeconomic data is also due from China on Wednesday.
The British pound held at $1.3132, drifting away from a more than 10-month trough of $1.2955 touched earlier in July.
In commodities, U.S. crude fell 35 cents to $69.78 a barrel after a sharp rally overnight while Brent fell 36 cents to $74.61.
Spot gold was a tad firmer at $1,222 an ounce.