Japan intervened in> the forex market for the first time in six years Wednesday in an attempt to boost its export-led economy by buying the dollar in order to stop the recent rise in the yen. The nation, which has been struggling with persistent deflation, also hinted at more actions to halt its rising currency.
The move represents the latest effort by Japan s new prime minister Naoto Kan to boost exports which have been declining as the rising yen has made them more expensive for countries to purchase and stimulate its economy.
The Bank of Japan bought dollars at around 83 yen, but the country s finance ministry declined to say how much it was spending. The currency intervention is estimated at around $2.4 billion to $3.5 billion, just a fraction of the $586 billion in daily dollar-yen trading, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Following the announcement Wednesday, the dollar rose to 85 yen after having dropped to below 83 yen, its lowest level in 15 years. Japan s benchmark stock index, the Nikkei 225, is up more than 2% in trading after closing at 9299 Tuesday. The index is down 7% for the year, in part because of the yen.
Investors in large Japanese exporters benefited from the currency intervention immediately. In the auto sector, shares of Toyota Motor (TM)
The gains could be short lived, says Adrian Ash, head of research at BullionVault.com, citing an $800 billion dollar purchase over the five years leading up to 2005 that left the currency's dollar exchange-rate barely changed and lifted it only about 25%. The forex market has "been goading the Bank of Japan to act, and now it's provoked a response," he says. "Longer-term, though, does Tokyo really have the guts or the electronic ink for a fight?"
During the second quarter, Japan lost its position as the world s second-largest economy to China. "The lack of consumer spending by Japan's aging population, amid a deflationary environment wherein spending is postponed, reduces Japan's outlook," according to a Charles Schwab report.