Comments by Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso sparked a fast and furious sell off in USD/JPY and yen crosses as traders booked their profits and dumped the pair ahead of the long Tokyo weekend. Speaking in Japanese Parliament Mr. Aso said, “The yen’s sudden move from 78 or 79 to 90 was not something we anticipated.”

That one sentence was enough to trigger a massive selloff in USD/JPY which quickly tumbled more than 150 points off the session highs to hit a low of 92.16 before rebounding to 92.50 by mid-morning european trade. Mr. Aso’s comments seem disingenuous at best since Prime Minister Abe specifically campaigned on raising the USD/JPY rate to 90.00. However, now that the pair has exceeded that target and has weakened further to hit 94.00 this week, Japanese fiscal authorities are clearly concerned with the pace of depreciation.

While Japanese officials definitely want to see further yen depreciation, the runaway rally that we’ve seen over the past few weeks may be causing both political and economic risks as the country now comes under strong criticism from its Asian neighbors while the market volatility creates hedging problems for its export driven corporate sector.

Therefore today’s statement by Mr. Aso was a clear calculated move to temper some of the investor flows into USD/JPY and allow the pair to consolidate around the 90.00-94.00 region while the Abe administration looks for a BOJ nominee and continues to assert it power over the monetary policy making apparatus.

With the weekend ahead, and serious damage done on the technical level. USD/JPY may be vulnerable to further sell-off in North American trade as shorts try to target the 92.00 level.

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