By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said authorities were ready to take appropriate action against excessive exchange-rate volatility, repeating his warning to yen bears as Tokyo tries to prevent a destabilising fall in the currency.

Suzuki stopped short of threatening to take “decisive action” against excessive moves, language the minister used last week when the yen slumped to a 34-year low, suggesting officials are keeping their powder dry as they watch how currency moves play out.

“All we can say is that we will take appropriate action against excessive volatility, without ruling out any options,” Suzuki told a regular news conference on Tuesday, when asked about the yen’s continued falls.

The yen has been on a downtrend despite the Bank of Japan’s decision last month to end eight years of negative interest rates, as traders interpreted its dovish language as signalling that the next rate hike will be some time away.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks on Friday that there was no need “to be in a hurry to cut” interest rates kept the dollar firm by cementing market expectations that the gap between U.S. and Japanese rates will stay wide.

Markets remain on alert for the chance of intervention by Tokyo as the dollar hovers around 151.610 yen in Asia on Tuesday, near the 34-year high of 151.975 hit on Wednesday.

On the day the yen hit 34-year lows, Suzuki said Tokyo will take “decisive steps” against excessive currency moves. The language is considered by markets as the strongest warning by authorities that currency intervention was nearing.

Japanese authorities, including Suzuki, had not used the same language since then.

The yen had been declining quite sharply back then, Suzuki said when asked about the day he threatened to take decisive action.

“Language aside, we’re now watching markets with a strong sense of urgency,” Suzuki said. “We are carefully watching daily market moves,” he added.

Suzuki said monetary policy was only among many factors that affect currency moves, such as each country’s current account balance, price developments, geo-political risks, market sentiment and speculative moves.

“It’s important for currency rates to move stably reflecting fundamentals. Excessive volatility is undesirable,” he said.

Japan intervened in the currency market in 2022, first in September and again in October, to prop up the yen as the currency slid towards 152 to the dollar.

Suzuki declined to comment when asked whether Japan would intervene heavily in a single blow to unwind speculative positions, or conduct intervention in several stages to smooth volatile moves.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Japanese yen and U.S. dollar banknotes are seen with a currency exchange rate graph in this illustration picture taken June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

Japanese policymakers have historically favoured a weak yen as it helps boost profits for the country’s big manufacturers.

But the yen’s recent sharp declines are raising concerns for policymakers as they inflate the cost of raw material imports, hurting consumption and retail profits – a complication for the BOJ’s goal of decisively moving out from decades of accommodative policy.





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