Despite a drop in the Nikkei 225, Japan’s stock index, the Japanese Yen has seen 3 straight days of gains now against the US Dollar. In contrast, the Nikkei dropped back below 18,000 points, a one week low.
Traditionally a very stable currency pair due to both currencies being strong safe havens, USD/JPY was steadily rising in the months leading up to March. However just like every other market, it was not safe from the extreme volatility brought on by the global coronavirus outbreak in March. After dropping all the way below 103, the Dollar eventually rebounded against the Yen to trade at ¥111 to the Dollar, influenced by the rise in strength of the greenback following a pullout from investors from assets back to liquid cash in order to minimise risk. It is currently trading at ¥107 against the greenback.
Investors are also looking towards the Yen once again as a safe haven, as it remains a strong currency in times of economic uncertainty, and this is certainly one of them.
However, the Yen's current status may be short-lived, amid growing sentiment that Tokyo may soon come under lockdown due to the sharp increase in coronavirus cases in the city. This new rise comes shortly after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were announced to be postponed until Summer 2021, leading some to question whether or not the Japanese government had been suppressing figures in order to keep the Olympics going ahead.
The governor of Tokyo has urged citizens to avoid karaoke- the popular Japanese pastime- in order to maintain social distancing, despite warnings from senior health officials to put the city under lockdown before it is too late. Japan’s economy minister has warned that a lockdown of the country’s biggest cities would have disastrous effects on the Japanese economy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also stated that a state of emergency is not yet needed, but that Japan could enter a situation like Europe very soon.
The Dollar also weakened once again following White House officials projecting that around 100,000 to 240,000 more deaths would occur in the United States due to the coronavirus. US President Donald Trump also gave warnings that the coronavirus would continue to worsen, backtracking on his statements from the previous week that he had expected to see the States reopen by Easter. However, he is still resisting calls to issue a nationwide warning to tell Americans to stay home. The Trump Administration’s lack of action has led to State governors to take action of their own. California and New York are continuing to be under lockdown, and an increasing number of states are also extending or adding their own stay at home orders.
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