The Japanese yen was volatile Wednesday against the U.S. dollar as Japan’s prime minister outlined economic-growth proposals, while Australia’s currency fell following Australian economic growth figures that missed analyst expectations.
The U.S. dollar climbed as high as ¥100.45 before sliding back to an intraday low of ¥99.35 as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled plans ranging from reforms in the energy market to tax breaks to stimulate activity in the lackluster economy.
U.S. dollar recently traded at ¥99.49. Japanese stocks also turned lower on Wednesday.
Abe’s push for growth through new economic policies — dubbed “Abenomics” — has been the force behind the central bank’s massive, recently launched monetary stimulus program that’s resulted in the U.S. dollar reaching four-and-a half year highs against the yen above the ¥103 level.
The dollar is poised for more action Wednesday with the release of ADP’s report on hiring in the U.S. private-sector in May, among other data.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar bought 95.83 U.S. cents, falling after first-quarter gross domestic product in Australia expanded by 0.6%, missing a Dow Jones Newswires consensus forecast of 0.7%. A rebound by the Aussie after the GDP report was short-lived.
The Aussie traded at 96.33 U.S. cents ahead of the release, around the same level seen late Tuesday in North America.
The Australian economy expanded 2.5% in the first quarter on a seasonally adjusted year-on-year basis, missing the 2.7% consensus forecast.
Australia’s currency last month fell below parity against the U.S. dollar on concerns about domestic economic weakness, with mining investment in Australia expected to peak this year.
Also of concern have been indications of a slowdown in China, Australia’s top export market, with the most recent signal coming from an HSBC gauge showing contraction in the manufacturing sector.
Reserve Bank of Australia Gov. Glenn Stevens said Tuesday that Australia’s economic growth remained “below trend” and would likely stay that way for the near term. The central bank on Tuesday kept its key policy cash rate at 2.75%, but with inflation currently subdued, it also said there’s some scope for further easing in monetary policy.
The suggestion by policy-makers that they’re keeping the door open to interest-rate cuts pushed the Aussie lower on Tuesday. A cut in the benchmark interest rate could further hurt the Australian dollar, as rate reductions tend to depress debt yields in the currency.
The euro rose against the greenback, changing hands at $1.3095 versus $1.3077. The European Central Bank’s June meeting is slated for Thursday in Frankfurt. The ECB cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-percentage-point to 0.5% at its May meeting.
The British pound rose against the U.S. dollar to $1.5332 from $1.5305.
The ICE dollar index , a gauge that measures the greenback’s performance against six other currencies, fell to 82.658 from 82.803 on Tuesday.
The WSJ Dollar Index , a rival measure that tracks the buck against a larger basket of currencies, fell to 74.40 from 74.50 on Tuesday.