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HSBC sees yen at 100 against dollar within months as Japan falters on inflation

Bloomberg

The yen may advance to 100 against the dollar by the year’s end as investors conclude that Japan is still failing to sustain inflation gains five years after Abenomics was introduced, according to HSBC Holdings PLC.

HSBC, which holds the most bullish call on the currency among analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, also expects the benchmark Treasury yield to fall to 1.9 percent, which will support the yen as Japanese funds cut back purchases, according to David Bloom, the global head of FX strategy in London.

“The idea of this massive QE program, this massive idea of three arrows creating inflation started in 2012 — that’s five years ago,” London-based Bloom said by phone on Tuesday. “It hasn’t happened, so why should the yen be cheap to fair value?”

The Bank of Japan pushed back in July the projected timing for reaching its 2 percent inflation target for the sixth time as economic growth failed to drive price gains. The nation’s reflationary policy, dubbed Abenomics, drove the dollar-yen rate to more than 125 in 2015 from below 80 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled his policy initiatives.

The currency pair touched its peak of ¥125.86 in June 2015, before slumping to below 100 last year. It has traded from 107.32 to 118.60 this year, driven by bouts of risk aversion from North Korean tensions and a sell-down of the dollar as optimism over U.S. economic and tax reforms faded. HSBC made its call for the yen to reach 100 in the last quarter of the year in April, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Though Japan’s economy is in its longest expansion for more than a decade, price pressures have refused to accelerate with core inflation up just 0.5 percent in July. Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said in an interview in August that the current growth rate of 4 percent isn’t sustainable.

“We haven’t had inflation picking up in Japan on a sustainable basis,” said Bloom. On that basis, dollar-yen should come back to fair-value range, which is roughly ¥100, he said.

The BOJ will also be coming under pressure as the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are set to normalize monetary policies. While the odds for the BOJ to announce an imminent change to its bond-purchase targets is low, there is a risk, said Bloom.

“Is there any point in time that the Japanese will slightly want to pull away from the 10-year bond-buying program? If there is, the risk is that dollar-yen goes down, not up,” Bloom said.