The yen surged to a four-month high against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday after the Bank of Japan (BOJ) stunned markets with a surprise tweak to its bond yield control program.
While it kept broad policy settings unchanged – pinning short-term JGB yields at -0.1% and the 10-year yield around zero – the BOJ decided to let long-term yields move 50 basis points either side of its 0% target, wider than the 25 basis point band previously.
The move rattled investors already worried about the economic fallout of rising interest rates and untamable inflation around the globe.
The dollar was down 3.6% against the Japanese currency at 131.95 yen. It hit a low of 131.83 yen, a level last seen in mid-August.
The timing of the move surprised since most BOJ watchers had expected no changes until the current governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s 10-year term ends at the end of March.
“We would have expected this to be a more of an early 2023 story as opposed to now,” said Bipan Rai, North American head of FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets.
“The BOJ amending its yield curve control policy has been a significant mover for FX market overnight,” Rai said.
The 10-year JGB yield jumped to 0.46% from the previous cap at 0.25%. It pulled equivalent U.S. Treasury yields higher as well, with the 10-year soaring to the highest this month at 3.711%.
The U.S. dollar Index , which through late September had gained nearly 19% for the year, has given up a lot of those advances to trade up about 9% for the year.
On Tuesday, the yen’s gains were broad, with the euro tumbling as much as 3.5% to the lowest since late September at 140.17 yen and sterling also sliding as much as 3.7% to the lowest since Oct. 12 at 160.34 yen.