After a quiet start to the week, the Japanese yen has recorded sharp gains in the Wednesday session. In North American trade, USD/JPY is trading at 110.15, down 0.68% on the day. On the release front, Japanese Flash Manufacturing PMI dipped to 52.5, marking a 7-month low. This missed the estimate of 53.6 points. Japanese All Industries Activity dropped to 0.0%, shy of the estimate of 0.1%. In the US, the key event is the Federal Reserve minutes from the May policy meeting. On Thursday, the US will release unemployment claims and Existing Home Sales.
On Tuesday, President Trump sounded skeptical over progress in trade talks between the US and China, saying he was ‘not really’ satisfied with the negotiations. Trump’s comments have confused the markets, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared on the weekend that the trade spat was ‘on hold’. The remarks spooked Asian and European stock markets on Wednesday, while sending the safe-haven yen strongly higher. Investor risk appetite has also waned as there is uncertainty whether North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will meet with President Trump next month. On Tuesday, Trump acknowledged that there was a ‘substantial’ chance that the summit planned with Kim in Singapore on June 12 would not take place.
The Federal Reserve will be in the spotlight on Wednesday, as analysts pore over the minutes of the May policy meeting. The Fed did not raise rates at the meeting, but a strong US economy has raised expectations that the Fed will press the rate trigger in June – according to the CME Group, the odds of a June hike stand at 100%. The markets will be looking for some guidance from the May minutes, and if the message from Fed policymakers is hawkish, traders can expect the US dollar to post gains. On Monday, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic sounded positive about the economy, saying the Fed’s employment and inflation goals were close to being met. The Fed expects growth to be around 2.5% in 2018, and inflation has been moving closer to the Fed target of 2.0%.
On Tuesday, BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda promised that the bank would be transparent with regard to an exit from its radical easing policy, but added that the markets shouldn’t hold their breath for any dramatic announcements. Kuroda said that the BoJ would “communicate specifics on how we plan to exit once inflation accelerates toward 2 percent, but reiterated that there would be no departure from policy until the inflation target was met. That goal remains elusive, as underscored by BoJ Core CPI, which fell in April for a second straight month. BoJ policymakers have been looking for ways to move away from radical easing, as ultra-low interest rates have hurt the profits of financial institutions