Sterling awaits for BoE deadline, fragile yen tests 1998 low

A fragile yen languished near a fresh 24-year low, while markets were also on edge ahead of U.S. inflation data due later in the day for possible clues on how much higher the Federal Reserve will push interest rates.
Banknotes of Japanese yen are seen in this illustration picture taken September 23, 2022
Banknotes of Japanese yen are seen in this illustration picture taken September 23, 2022Reuters

LONDON: Sterling fell on Thursday, marching towards Wednesday's almost two-week low, as investors nervously awaited an impending deadline for the end of the Bank of England's emergency bond-buying programme.

A fragile yen languished near a fresh 24-year low, while markets were also on edge ahead of U.S. inflation data due later in the day for possible clues on how much higher the Federal Reserve will push interest rates.

Sterling eased 0.1% to $1.10860 at 0808 GMT, following a 1.25% rebound in the previous session after the Financial Times reported that the BoE had signalled privately to lenders that it was prepared to extend its emergency bond-buying programme beyond Friday's deadline if market conditions demanded it.

However, the central bank later reiterated that its programme of temporary gilt purchases will end on Oct. 14.

At the same time, Britain's new government said on Wednesday that it would not reverse its vast tax cuts or reduce public spending - a plan which has wreaked havoc in the country's financial markets.

On Thursday, BoE said UK pension schemes are racing to raise hundreds of billions of pounds to shore up derivatives positions before the BoE's Friday deadline.

"We can expect potential market take-up to continue to increase as market participants prepare for the BoE to exit the market.

While the government shows little sign of turning back from the path of unfunded tax cuts, we can expect the market to focus on the risks of extended Gilt market volatility and potential contagion risks," said Jeremy Stretch, head of G10 FX Strategy at CIBC Capital Markets.

He added that, unless there is a "position adjustment from the government", sterling will likely remain under pressure. Another currency struggling against the U.S. dollar was the yen , which traded 0.1% lower at 146.8.

This is a whisker away from an August 1998 low of 146.98 per dollar hit on Wednesday, and well past last month's low of 145.90 per dollar which prompted Japanese authorities to intervene to buy the yen.

The yen "has lost its safe haven appeal," said Rodrigo Catril, a senior currency strategist at National Australia Bank.

"There's been this sense of cautiousness around that previous high (for dollar/yen) ... now they've punched through it, and therefore it feels like you have a little bit more room to keep going, because there hasn't been any intervention."

U.S. INFLATION IN FOCUS

Elsewhere, the U.S. dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of peers including sterling and yen, rose 0.05% to 113.29 ahead of core inflation in the U.S. data, projected to rise 6.5% year-on-year in September.

Data showed on Wednesday that U.S. producer prices increased more than expected last month.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve's policy meeting last month showed that officials agreed they needed to raise interest rates to a more restrictive level - and then keep them there for some time - to meet their goal of lowering "broad-based and unacceptably high" inflation, even as the minutes contained a hint of a downshift in the pace of future monetary tightening.

Analysts at ING expected the dollar to continue to consolidate as the release of the September minutes revealed a still very hawkish Fed as "the cost of doing too little outweighed the cost of doing too much".

The euro flattened to $0.96965, while the antipodean currencies were nursing small declines after having fallen to fresh multi-year lows earlier in the week.

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