Japan’s exporters are benefiting from the weaker yen currency. However, with the yen trading at its lowest since 2008, rising import costs have many companies on edge, potentially weighing down Japanese stocks and related country-specific exchange traded funds.
The CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (NYSEArca: FXY) has declined 6.3% over the past three months. The U.S. dollar traded as high as 109.44 yen on Friday.
The iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEArca: EWJ) has declined 2.2% year-to-date.
Due to the quickly depreciating yen on growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will hike rates sooner than anticipated while the Bank of Japan may ease further, the currency’s decline now threatens to further aggravate costs for imported raw materials, reports Tetsushi Kajimoto for Reuters.
“Rising energy costs are concerns for manufacturers in Japan, which is heavily reliant on importing energy-related resources,” Fumihiko Ike, also chairman of Honda Motor Co, said in a news conference.
Now, three quarters of Japanese firms argue that the yen’s rapid descent is moving beyond comfortable levels, according to a Reuters survey. Only 25% of respondents prefer an exchange rate of 105 yen or weaker, 47% look for a 100 to 104 yen range and 28% prefer a yen at 99 to the dollar or stronger.
“Our business is slowing due to a marked increase in the cost of imports caused by the weak yen,” an executive at a textile manufacturer wrote in the survey. “Retail sales at department stores remain slack.”