Japanese Yen Mar '19 (J6H19)
|Tick Size||0.0000005 points ($6.25 per contract)|
|Contract Size||JPY 12,500,000|
|Trading Months||All Months|
|Trading Hours||5:00p.m. - 4:00p.m. (Sun-Fri) (Settles 2:00p.m.) CST|
|Value of One Futures Unit||$125,000|
|Value of One Options Unit||$125,000|
|Last Trading Day||Second business day preceding third Wednesday of expiring month|
A "currency" rate involves the price of the base currency (e.g., the dollar) quoted in terms of another currency (e.g., the yen), or in terms of a basket of currencies (e.g., the dollar index). The world's major currencies have traded in a floating exchange rate regime ever since the Bretton-Woods international payments system broke down in 1971 when President Nixon broke the dollar's peg to gold. The two key factors affecting a currency's value are central bank monetary policy and the trade balance. An easy monetary policy (low interest rates) is bearish for a currency because the central bank is aggressively pumping new currency reserves into the marketplace and because foreign investors are not attracted to the low interest rate returns available in the country. By contrast, a tight monetary policy (high interest rates) is bullish for a currency because of the tight supply of new currency reserves and attractive interest rate returns for foreign investors.
The other key factor driving currency values is the nation's current account balance. A current account surplus is bullish for a currency due to the net inflow of the currency, while a current account deficit is bearish for a currency due to the net outflow of the currency. Currency values are also affected by economic growth and investment opportunities in the country. A country with a strong economy and lucrative investment opportunities will typically have a strong currency because global companies and investors want to buy into that country's investment opportunities. Futures on major currencies and on cross-currency rates are traded primarily at the CME Group.
Dollar - The dollar index (Barchart.com symbol DXY00) rallied to a 15-year high in January 2017 on continued support from the Republican sweep of the White House and Congress in the November 2016 election, which bolstered expectations that a stimulus program would produce a strong economy and higher interest rates in 2017. Indeed, the Federal Reserve at its December 2016 FOMC meeting projected three rate hikes in 2017, up from its September estimate of two rate hikes. However, the dollar index then sold off during most of the remainder of 2017, closing the year down -9.9%. The dollar was undercut during 2017 as Republicans spent most of the first half of the year trying to repeal Obamacare, leaving aside a tax cut and dropping an infrastructure program. Congress in December 2017 finally did pass a massive tax cut bill, which provided some underlying support for the dollar. However, the markets were then concerned about expectations that the tax would will expand the U.S. budget deficit in coming years, thus increasing the need for the U.S. to import capital and leading to a larger current account deficit. The dollar was also undercut during 2017 by political uncertainty tied to the investigation into Russian interference in the November 2016 election. The dollar found only modest support during 2017 from Federal Reserve policy even though the Fed raised its federal funds rate target three times for a total rate hike of +75 basis points to a target range of 1.25%/1.50% by the end of 2017.
Euro - EUR/USD (Barchart.com symbol ^EURUSD) slumped to a 15-year low in early January 2017 on dollar strength and on speculation the ECB would not end its QE program anytime soon because ECB President Draghi said there are "no convincing signs yet of an upward trend in underlying inflation." However, EUR/USD then rallied sharply in the second half of 2017 on (1) relief that populists failed to win in the French national elections, (2) strength in the Eurozone economy, and (3) growing expectations for the European Central Bank (ECB) to eventually start to exit its extraordinarily easy monetary policy. The Eurozone economy in 2017 showed relatively strong real GDP growth of +2.3% as the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis finally started to fade into history. The ECB in October announced that its quantitative easing (QE) program, which ran at 60 billion euros per month during 2017, would be cut in half to 30 billion euros per month for the first nine months of 2018. EUR/USD finished 2017 with a sharp +14% gain.
Yen - USD/JPY (Barchart.com symbol ^USDJPY) posted the high for 2017 in early January on dollar strength prompted by the results of the U.S. November 2016 elections. However, USD/JPY then weakened during 2017 and closed the year down by -3.7% at 112.69 yen. The yen during 2017 found safe-haven demand from (1) trade tensions prompted by the Trump administration, and (2) North Korean geopolitical risks as North Korea continued its nuclear weapons development program and conducted ballistic missile tests, drawing a U.S. threat of military action. USD/JPY moved higher into November after Japanese Prime Minister Abe's ruling coalition retained its super-majority in the October 2017 general election. The strong mandate for Abenomics implied the BOJ would continue its massive quantitative easing program. The yen also found support during 2017 from the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) shift in September 2016 to a yield-curve-control (YCC) policy whereby the BOJ started to target the 10-year Japanese government bond (JGB) yield near the level of zero percent, potentially allowing its quantitative easing program to drop in size from its target level of 80 trillion yen per year.
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