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Thursday December 20, 2007 - 16:44:23 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 December 2007)

The euro slumped vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.4310 level and was capped around the $1.4390 level.  The common currency traded at its lowest level since 25 October.  Data released in the U.S. today saw GDP expand at an annualized 4.9% pace in the July – September quarter, unchanged from previous estimates.  Notably, the housing market recession subtracted about 1.08% in growth from the GDP tally.  Many economists believe GDP will have expanded 1.5% or less between October and December.  Other data released today saw weekly initial jobless claims climb 12,000 to 346,000 while continuing jobless claims were up 12,000 to 2.65 million.  These data suggest the December non-farm payrolls report that will be released in a couple of weeks could be on the light side.  Additionally, the Chicago Fed’s November national activity index improved to -0.27 from -0.89 in October.  The U.S. dollar gained ground on the GDP report because the core personal consumption expenditures index expanded at a 2.0% rate in Q3, up sharply from Q2’s 1.4% rate and the earlier 1.8% estimate for Q3.  The 2.0% print is at the upper boundary of the Fed’s perceived comfort zone and may render it that much more difficult on the Federal Open Market Committee to deliver another interest rate cut next month. Still, most traders believe the FOMC will ease policy by 25bps next month.  In eurozone news, the German GfK January consumer climate index improved to 4.5 from 4.4 in December.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.4165 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥112.90 level and was capped around the ¥113.35 level.  The pair has traded in a narrow 75-pip range all week as traders are loath to assume too much market risk ahead of the illiquid Christmas and New Year holiday period.  As expected, Bank of Japan’s Policy Board voted to keep the overnight call rate unchanged at 0.50%. Surprisingly, however, the vote was unanimous with hawkish Policy Board member Mizuno not voting to hike rates for the first time in six months.  The BoJ also downgraded its economic assessment in December, noting economic growth is slowing on account of a decline in housing starts and business sentiment.  Data released in Japan today saw the November merchandise trade surplus fall 12.2% y/y to ¥797.41 billion.  The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.01% to close at ¥15,031.60.  Dollar bids are cited around the ¥112.50/ ¥111.75 levels.  The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥161.75 level and was capped around the ¥163.10 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥223.60 and ¥97.50 levels, respectively.  The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.3694 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.3767.  People’s Bank of China tightened monetary policy today by lifting the one-year deposit rate by 27 bps to 4.14% and the one-year lending rate by 18bps to 7.47%.  The Bush administration opted not to cite China as a currency manipulator yesterday.

The British pound extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9810 level and was capped around the $1.9985 level.  The pair reached levels not seen since 22 August as traders continued to react to the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting minutes released yesterday that evidenced a unanimous decision to ease interest rates.  This suggests there may be momentum on the MPC to deliver additional monetary easing in the coming months.  Data released in the U.K. today saw Q3 GDP upwardly revised to 3.3% from 3.2%, a revision that was expected on account of the recent increase improvement in business spending.  Sterling was also dented by news that its external position is worsening substantially.  It was learned that the U.K. registered a massive current account deficit in Q3 of ₤20 billion – about 5.7% of GDP – and upward revisions to previous quarters’ deficits.  Similarly, public sector net borrowing ballooned to ₤11.2 billion in November, the largest ever monthly deficit on record.  Other data released today saw the November money supply up 0.1% m/m and 11.1% y/y.  Also, CML November gross mortgage lending was off 8% m/m. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9795/ 1.9640 levels.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.7240 level and was supported around the ₤0.7195 level.


The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1590 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1540 level.  The pair reached its highest level since 1 November.  Swiss National Bank Chairman Roth verbally intervened today saying the SNB would take action “sooner or later” if the franc continues to weaken.  Data released in Switzerland today saw November producer price inflation up 0.3% m/m and 3.0% y/y while the November trade surplus was up 45.8% to CHF 1.89 billion.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1680 level.  The euro and British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.6575 and CHF 2.2905 levels, respectively.


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