Another session of risk aversion sent global equities sharply lower on Monday on concerns Britons are leaning toward leaving the European Union. Most recent polls from ORB, ICM, and Yougov showed that Brexit campaign extended its lead over the Bremain camp ahead of the June 23 referendum. Markets anxiety was clearly reflected in CBOE’s volatility index “VIX”, which climbed above 20 for the first time since late Feb, indicating that investors are now taking the vote more seriously than in the past couple of weeks and accordingly are adjusting their portfolios.

Although Japan’s policy makers hate the idea of an appreciating Yen, the currency proved to be traders best friend in uncertain times. The Yen appreciated across the board on Monday and USDJPY was only 20 pips away from 18-month low recorded on May 3 while EURJPY and GBPJPY traded at lowest levels since 2013. BoJ is one of the major four central banks to meet this week, and markets are anticipating the central bank to stand pat on monetary policy especially with GDP being revised higher, and sales tax hike being delayed. However, a surprise could be on the cards, and increasing purchases of EFTs and JGB’s or taking interest rates deeper into negative territory are all available options.  The key question remains how will further easing impact the Yen. In fact, investors are buying the Yen for the purpose of hedging against the unknown and not because of the attractive negative yields provided by their bonds, and this trend is likely to continue whatever the central bank’s decision is on Thursday. Unless BoJ intervenes directly in foreign exchange markets Yen’s strength unlikely to be curbed with all uncertainty surrounding financial markets.  

The Federal reserve kicks off its two-days policy meeting today with market expectations for a rate hike close to zero percent according to CME’s fedwatch. This has already been priced in the U.S. dollar and markets are more interested in knowing how the Fed sees the health of the labor market after the disappointing May’s NFP figures, and whether clear signals will be given on the time frame of tightening monetary policy which will shape expectations for the next couple of months. The dot plot won’t help a lot as the Fed likely to stick to two raises in 2016, but Yellens’ tone most probably to be the main driver of the U.S. currency. Today’s US retail sales figure will be the last major data release ahead of tomorrow decision, and a very strong figure is required to offset recent weakness in labor market and maintain an optimistic outlook for the economy. 

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