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IMF Says Yen Falls Driven by Fundamentals, Urges BOJ to Keep Easy Policy

Clayton Lee

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar and Japan yen notes are seen in this photo illustration June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) -The yen’s recent declines have been driven by fundamentals and would be no reason for Japan to change its economic policy, including the central bank’s ultra-low interest rates, a senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said.

The remarks highlight the difficulty Tokyo may face if it sought international consent to intervene in the currency market to stem further yen falls, as G7 and G20 countries agree such action is justified only if exchange rates move out of line with fundamentals.

“What we’re seeing so far on the yen is driven by fundamentals,” Sanjaya Panth, deputy director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, told Reuters late on Wednesday.

“Economic policymaking should continue to look at fundamentals. We don’t see any reason to change economic policy because what’s happening right now reflects fundamentals.”

The yen has plunged to two-decade lows against the dollar, with the Bank of Japan (BOJ) continuing to defend its ultra-low rate policy in contrast with heightening chances of aggressive rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

“We do not see disorderly market conditions right now in the foreign exchange market. It’s been driven by fundamentals,” Panth said, when asked whether yen-buying currency intervention by Japanese authorities would be justified.

Markets are rife with speculation Japan may act to resist further yen declines, perhaps by buying yen, raising interest rates or tweaking the BOJ’s dovish guidance on the future path of monetary policy.

“As you know, a weak yen hasn’t been bad for Japan,” Panth said. “At the same time, it does affect households. It’s a little bit of a mixed bag,” he said in the interview.

With inflationary pressure still muted, there was no need for the BOJ to change its ultra-loose policy, Panth said.

While temporary factors, such as the dissipating effect of past cuts in cellphone fees, could push up headline consumer price inflation, Japan was unlikely to see inflation sustainably reach the BOJ’s 2% target in the near term, he added.

“Japan is in a very different situation compared with other advanced countries who have begun tightening monetary policy,” he said. “We do not see any need to change the accommodative monetary policy stance.”

IMF says yen falls driven by fundamentals, urges BOJ to keep easy policy

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U.S. Senate Committee Backs Biden Nominee to Be Ukraine Ambassador

Clayton Lee

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bridget Brink, nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifies at her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Ukraine, veteran diplomat Bridget Brink, and planned to push for her quick confirmation by the full Senate.

Brink is expected to easily win confirmation to a crucial position that has been vacant for three years.

The committee held Brink’s confirmation hearing on May 10, just two weeks after Biden sent her name to the Senate. The quick action underscored the desire from both Biden’s Democrats and Republicans to send an ambassador to support Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as he faces Russia’s invasion.

The Senate is expected later this week to approve nearly $40 billion in military and humanitarian support for Kyiv.

A Michigan native who speaks Russian, Brink is currently U.S. ambassador to Slovakia. She has been a career diplomat for 25 years and has worked in Uzbekistan and Georgia as well as in several senior positions across the State Department and White House National Security Council.

Brink was confirmed by unanimous voice vote in 2019, when former Republican President Donald Trump nominated her for the position in Bratislava.

U.S. Senate committee backs Biden nominee to be Ukraine ambassador

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Japan’s Trade Gap Widens As Import Costs Surge on Supply Pressures

Clayton Lee

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A cargo ship and containers are seen at an industrial port in Tokyo, Japan, February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s exports logged a third straight month of double-digit gains in April led by U.S. demand, but surging global commodity costs inflated the country’s import bill to a record, adding to worries about the rising cost of living.

Shoring up the prospects of a private demand-led recovery, however, was a gauge of capital expenditure that posted its first monthly gain in three months.

The mixed data on Thursday followed the yen’s falls to two-decade lows beyond 131 to the dollar earlier in May, which stoked fears of worsening terms of trade and added financial burdens for the resource-poor Japanese economy as import costs soar.

A weak yen, once considered a boon to the export-led economy, is now having less of an impact as shipments grow smaller, given the ongoing shift by Japanese manufacturers to offshore production.

Japan’s exports rose 12.5% in April from a year earlier, Ministry of Finance data showed, led by U.S.-bound shipments of cars and undershooting a 13.8% increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. It followed a 14.7% rise in March.

Imports rose 28.2% in the year to April, versus the median estimate for a 35.0% increase, as a weaker yen helped boost already surging global commodity prices.

That resulted in a trade deficit of 839.2 billion yen ($6.54 billion), narrower than the median estimate for a 1.150 trillion yen shortfall but posting a ninth straight month in the red.

Analysts have warned of the risks of prolonged cost-push inflation to the fragile economy with external factors, not domestic demand, pushing import bills higher.

Separate data showed on Thursday Japan’s core machinery orders rose 7.1% in March from the previous month, versus a 3.7% increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll.

The volatile data series, regarded as a leading gauge of capital expenditure in the coming six to nine months, provided a glimmer of hope for a domestic demand-led recovery.

Japan’s economy shrank for the first time in two quarters in the January-March period as COVID-19 curbs hit the service sector and surging commodity prices created new pressures.

($1 = 128.3600 yen)

Japan’s trade gap widens as import costs surge on supply pressures

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Barclays Appoints Hossein Zaimi As Asia Pacific Markets Head

Clayton Lee

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A branch of Barclays Bank is seen, in London, Britain, February 23, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Barclays (LON:BARC) said on Thursday Hossein Zaimi had been appointed as its head of markets for Asia Pacific and would join the bank after a long career at rival HSBC

Zaimi will remain based in Hong Kong and report to Adeel Khan and Stephen Dainton, co-heads of Barclays global markets business and Jaideep Khanna, the bank’s head of Asia Pacific, a statement said.

Zaimi spent more than 17 years at HSBC and was most recently the global head of equities and global co-head of securities financing.

Barclays appoints Hossein Zaimi as Asia Pacific markets head

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