USD/JPY Yen Remains Under Pressure as Pair Breaks Above 90 Level

The Japanese yen continues to look weak, as USD/JPY pushed above the critical 90 level in Friday’s Asian session. The pair has retracted slightly, and was trading in the 88.80 range. With the Bank of Japan expected to introduce further easing when it meets next week, we can expect the yen to face more pressure from the US dollar. On Thursday, the markets cheered as the US released excellent employment and housing data. Japanese Revised Industrial Production dropped in December, but managed to beat the market estimate. In the US, the markets will be keeping on eye on UoM Preliminary Consumer Sentiment, one of the most important consumer indicators.

The markets were in full swing on Thursday, as the US released a host of key data. Unsurprisingly, the data was a mix, which has been typical of recent US releases. However, market sentiment jumped as employment and housing numbers were outstanding, hitting multi-year highs. Unemployment Claims, which had looked weak earlier in January, bounced back with its best performance in five years, dropping to 331 thousand new claims. This easily beat the forecast of 369K. Housing Starts also were outstanding, improving to 0.95 million. This beat the forecast of 0.89M, and was the indicator’s highest level since June 2008. Building Permits was not as spectacular, but also came within market expectations. The key indicator remained at 0.90 million, just shy of the estimate of 0.91M. The positive numbers were not echoed by the Philly Fed Manufacturing Index, which fell back into negative territory.

The key manufacturing indicator plunged to -5.8 points, a very sharp drop. This surprised the markets, which had expected a small drop from 8.1 to 7.1 points. Coming on the heels of the Empire Manufacturing Index, which also looked dismal, these indicators point to significant contraction in the US manufacturing sector, which is weighing on the fragile economic recovery. The markets will be carefully monitoring today’s key release, Preliminary UoM Consumer Sentiment. The consumer index fell well short of expectations in the previous reading, dropping sharply to 74.5 points. The markets are expecting some improvement in the January release, with an estimate of 75.1 points. In Japan, Revised Industrial Production sagged, declining by 1.4%. The silver lining was that this figure beat the market estimate, which stood at -1.4%. However, the indicator has posted declines in four of the past five readings, underscoring 0ngoing contraction in the Japanese manufacturing industry.

The yen remains under strong pressure and is currently testing the critical 90 level. The downward spiral could continue into next week, as Prime Minister Abe has been continually talking about lowering the currency’s value and has been leaning on the Bank of Japan to implement further easing steps which will push the yen down even further. Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa stated that the BOJ will introduce further monetary easing steps, and warned that the economy would continue to struggle due to weak global conditions. The BOJ implemented monetary easing throughout 2012, and is widely expected to follow suit at a policy meeting next week. Analysts expect the central bank to double its inflation target to 2%, which is the government’s stated target.

Earlier this week, there was some negative news about global growth prospects from the World Bank. In its Global Economic Prospects report, which is issued twice a year, the prestigious institution said that global growth in 2013 would post a gain of 2.4%. This was down from the 3.0% estimate the World Bank stated in its June 2012 report. In explaining its downgrade, the World Bank noted persistent weaknesses in the economies of developed nations, citing austerity measures, high unemployment and weak business confidence. The report also sounded the alarm over the damage in market confidence due the ongoing fiscal battles in the US, and urged a quick resolution of the issue so as to ensure market stability.


USD/JPY for Friday, January 18, 2013

Forex Rate Graph 18/1/13

USD/JPY January 18 at 11:40 GMT

89.79 H: 90.21 L: 89.64



S3 S2 S1 R1 R2 R3
87.95 88.55 89.31 89.85 90.23 90.91


USD/JPY continues to look weak,as it flirts with the all-significant 90 level. The pair barrelled past resistance at 89.85 earlier on Friday, but then retracted, so this line remains intact, for now. It is under strong pressure and could see more activity during the day. If the pair can sustain a move above the 90 line, it will face resistance at 90.23. On the downside, there is support at 89.31. Given the strong volatility of the pair, this line cannot be considered safe. There is stronger resistance at 88.55.

  • Current range: 89.31 to 89.85.


Further levels in both directions:

  • Below: 89.31, 88.55, 87.95, 87.36, 86.97, 86.37 and 86.
  • Above: 89.85, 90.23, 90.91, 91.30 and 91.94.


OANDA’s Open Position Ratios

USD/JPY continues to fluctuate, but this has not been reflected in the ratio, which has looked very quiet. The ratio continues to be almost evenly split between long and short positions, and the lack of movement indicates uncertainty on the part of traders as to what direction the pair is headed. If the pair continues to show volatility, we can expect to see some movement in the ratio.

This week has been anything but dull, as the yen remains perilously close to the critical 90 level. Will the Japanese currency continue to weaken? The new Japanese government is committed to an agressive economic agenda, and continues to pressurethe BOJ to take further easing action, which will push the yen down further. With the BOJ widely expected to adopt more easing measures when it meets next week, it is unlikely that the yen will show much improvement against the US dollar.


USD/JPY Fundamentals

  • 4:30 Japanese Revised Industrial Production. Estimate -1.7%. Actual -1.4%.
  • 14:55 US Preliminary UoM Consumer Sentiment. Exp. 75.1 points.
  • 14:55 US Preliminary UoM Inflation Expectations.



*Key releases are highlighted in bold

*All release times are GMT

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Kenny Fisher

Kenny Fisher

Market Analyst at OANDA
A highly experienced financial market analyst with a focus on fundamental analysis, Kenneth Fisher’s daily commentary covers a broad range of markets including forex, equities and commodities. His work has been published in several major online financial publications including, Seeking Alpha and FXStreet. Based in Israel, Kenny has been a MarketPulse contributor since 2012.
Kenny Fisher

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