The Australian dollar is the mover on the session. It was marked sharply lower after disappointing labour market data for April was released. Jobs in the economy shrunk while the unemployment rate jumped higher. I should add that unemployment remains near record lows. However, the data today in addition to the subdued wages data published yesterday, along with other indications showing some steam coming out from the Australian economy should give the Reserve Bank of Australia reason enough to pause at its upcoming June 6 meeting.

USD/JPY dropped on the session. Chatter continues to swirl of change afoot at the Bank of Japan. While policy tightening still seems some time away a step towards it, i.e. higher forecasts from the central bank for growth, CPI and other indications, seems likely. The yen added on a few tics on the session, USD/JPY falling from highs circa 137.70 to under 137.40 at one stage. Not a large range.

Trade data from Japan today was disappointing. April figures showed:

  • Imports fell faster than was expected, and to the first y/y decline in 27 months
  • Exports climbed 2.6% y/y, missing the 3.0% increase expected by economists, and at the slowest pace since February 2021.

New Zealand released its government budget. Treasury is no longer forecasting a recession for the country.

The People's Bank of China set the USD/CNY reference rate within a hair of 7 today. It was the weakest mid-rate for the onshore yuan since December 8 last year.

Asian equity markets:

  • Japan’s Nikkei 225 +1.5%, adding to its stellar run higher

  • China’s Shanghai Composite +0.5%

  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng +1.2%

  • South Korea’s KOSPI +0.55%

  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 +0.55%

AUD/JPY copped it on both legs but has retraced somewhat:

audjpy wrap chart 18 May 2023