May: the Month Dollar-Yen Finally Breaks 100?
April just wasn't meant to be the month for the dollar to push decisively above 100 yen. Perhaps May will be, given hopes of stronger U.S. economic news after Friday's upbeat payrolls data, currency analysts said.
The dollar was trading around 99 yen on Monday, hovering within sight of the key 100-barrier it tested on a number of occasions last month but failed to break.
(Read More: Close, Yet So Far – Yen Takes Another Stab at 100)
"I think dollar/yen going through 100 this week is a reasonable expectation," said Richard Yetsenga, head of global markets research at ANZ.
"Most of us in the market had expected 100 to break before now and it hasn't, mostly because of two things: One is the slowdown in the U.S. numbers and the second is people adjusting to the fact that there isn't an avalanche of capital coming out of Japan," Yetsenga said.
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"I suspect those two are close to running their course, so expect dollar/yen to break 100 near-term," Yetsenga added.
Analysts say that the one driver behind the yen's weakness has been an expectation of capital outflows from Japan. While that has not materialized significantly, it's expected to do so in the months ahead as heavy bond buying by the Bank of Japan to stimulate the economy forces big institutional investors to shop abroad for foreign bonds and other assets.
Data on Friday showing the U.S. economy created 165,000 new jobs last month, higher than expectations for a gain of 145,000, followed a batch of weak data that had raised concerns about the outlook for the world's biggest economy and in turn stalled the rally in the dollar.
The upbeat U.S. payrolls number has renewed appetite for risk assets, lifting the S&P 500 and Dow Jones stock indices to all-time closing highs on Friday and helping push Asian stock markets higher on Monday.
Dollar/Yen 3-Month Chart
The dollar has risen some 25 percent against the yen since November, largely as a result of weakness in the Japanese currency as Japan embarks on a policy of radical monetary easing to kick start growth and end years of deflation.
And having risen quickly in such a short space of time, analysts had said the markets were looking for another incentive to push the dollar higher and knock the yen lower, through the psychological barrier of 100.
"We have now moved aggressively higher once again, and the countdown to breach the psychological 100 mark is back on. Perhaps tomorrow [Tuesday] will finally be the day after an extended holiday weekend," Jason Hughes, head of sales trading at CMC Markets, said in a research note, referring to the closure of Japanese markets on Monday for a public holiday.
Other analysts remained skeptical about whether any break of the elusive 100-level could be sustained.
"We could revisit [that] 100 level soon, but I don't think we will see a sustained break," said Chris Tedder, research analyst at Forex.com.
"We just don't see the interest in the market for a push above that level. So overall, if we do spike up to 100, we don't see a sustained break until we get some more guidance from the Bank of Japan and we don't expect to get that in the coming weeks," he said.
(Read More: Has the Yen Hit Bottom Against the Dollar Already?)
- By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe, Follow her on Twitter: @DharaCNBC