JGBs edge down as BOJ easing prospects cool

TOKYO - Japanese government bond futures retreated on Wednesday, pulling back from four-month highs as prospects receded for an interest rate cut by the Bank of Japan.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 20 Aug 2008, 2:06 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:55 AM

In a statement on Tuesday, the BOJ downgraded its assessment of the economy for the second month in a row as expected.

But in a news conference later Governor Masaaki Shirakawa reiterated the central bank view that the economy would eventually return to moderate growth.

That cooled expectations that the BOJ will be forced to cut interest rates by early next year.

Money market futures show that expectations for a 25 basis point rate cut by early next year were trimmed to about 10 percent from 20 percent.

‘With both the statement and news conference emphasising the status quo, market speculation about a rate cut was forced to undergo a measure of adjustment,’ Chotaro Morita, chief fixed-income strategist at Barclays Capital, wrote in a note to clients.

Futures fell as much as half a point, but a significant part of JGB losses was eventually pared as the underlying bond-supportive scenario remained intact -- one in which a global economic slump sparked by the US credit crisis spreads too quickly for Japan to avoid a recession.

With a gloomy outlook for the domestic and global economies holding sway, market participants were willing to take profits at peaks but hesitant to move away in earnest from the safety of government debt, traders said.

September futures hit a low of 137.34 but recovered to 137.78, down 0.18 point on the day.

The lead futures contract reached a four-month high of 138.12 last week, which is also a chart resistance level drawn from the March-June sell-off.

The benchmark 10-year yield rose 1 basis point to 1.440 percent after touching 1.475 percent.

Wednesday's 1.9 trillion yen ($17.29 billion) five-year JGB auction was a showcase of investors choosing government debt by default.

Although the Ministry of Finance set the new issue's coupon at an unattractive 1.0 percent, down from the previous auction's 1.3 percent and and the lowest since the issue offered in April, the new JGBs drew decent investor demand.

The auction tail shortened and the lowest price was in line with expectations, helping offset a dip in the bid-to-cover ratio.

Market watchers say JGBs may be poised to move sideways with prospects of a BOJ rate cut put in perspective.

‘The market would have to price in a rate cut to justify the five-year yield being at 1.00 percent. In that case, resistance toward further gains will stiffen,’ said Katsutoshi Inadome, a fixed-income strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities.

The five-year yield rose 1 basis point to 1.015 percent. It touched a four-month low of 0.980 percent last week.

The Nikkei share average fell 0.1 percent, with bank shares hit by worries about the US financial system.

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