Short Aussie, long yen is the hot new currency bet for trade war

  • Business
  • Thursday, 23 May 2019

Short Australia

SINGAPORE: Short Australia’s risk-sensitive currency against the haven yen.

That is emerging as one popular currency trade as investors look to profit from the US-China trade war.

With the conflict escalating, Citigroup Inc. predicts the Aussie-yen will slip to about 72.75 in a few weeks, which marks a drop of more than 4% from 76.11 early in Asia yesterday.

Jeffrey Halley, a 30-year currency trading veteran and market analyst at Oanda Asia Pacific Pte, reckons the pair could fall below 70.

“Aussie-yen is the best bellwether for risk-off,” said Sean Callow, senior currency strategist in Sydney at Westpac Banking Corp.

“I don’t see a quick resolution to the US-China trade war before the Group-of-20” meeting next month, he said.

With US President Donald Trump bringing the trade spat back to the fore by threatening to impose tariffs on almost all imports from China, investors are looking to benefit not just from potential downside in the Aussie, but also from gains in the yen, which is proving to be the most sought-after haven currency.

One-month risk reversals, a measure of market positioning, signal options traders are most bullish on the yen among the Group-of-10 currencies, while being the least confident about the Aussie.

Further, implied volatility is indicating potential for wild swings in the Aussie-yen cross over the next three months.

“I can’t think of a better way to play the yen crosses right now other than by selling the Aussie,” said Jeffrey Halley, Singapore-based market strategist at Oanda.

“There’s going to be the most value in being short Aussie because it’s such a proxy for China, and the yen is still loved as a haven. I see easily Aussie-yen falling below 70 in the next one-to-two months.”

The Aussie is closely tied to the yuan as China is Australia’s largest trade partner, buying up commodities including iron ore.

The Australian dollar is a proxy for investors wary of trading the yuan given capital control measures.

The Aussie-yen’s correlation with how the offshore yuan trades has been rising recently and climbed to 0.60 last week - the highest since October - according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s stronger than the relationship the Chinese currency has with Aussie-greenback. The Aussie capped a fifth straight weekly loss against the yen last Friday and touched 75.331, its lowest since early January, when it hit a decade low amid the flash crash. — Bloomberg

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