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Wednesday January 16, 2008 - 17:01:24 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (16 January 2008)

The euro fell sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.4595 level and was capped around the $1.4860 level.  Technically, today’s intraday high was just above the 23.6% retracement of the 2008 range and today’s intraday low was below the 76.4% retracement of the same range.  One reason for the intraday weakness in the common currency was a comment from European Central Bank member Weber who said markets should not “overdramatize” the final EMU-13 December harmonized CPI print of 3.1%.  Inflation remains well above the ECB’s ceiling target of 2.0% and his comment today was the first time in recent memory an ECB official has not been very hawkish in remarks. ECB’s Mersch followed suit with a comment that downside economic risks are increasing.  Two of Germany’s Five Wise Men today warned the financial market crisis has not yet peaked.  In U.S. news, many economic data were released. First, December headline CPI was up 0.3% m/m and 4.1% y/y, an acceleration from 2006’s 2.5% annualized increase. These data suggest price pressures remain elevated and the next core personal consumption expenditures print will be closely monitored to see if price pressures are still above the Fed’s perceived 2.0% comfort ceiling zone.  On a core basis, December PPI was up +0.2% m/m and 2.4% y/y.  Second, December industrial production was unchanged m/m and up 1.5% y/y while capacity utilization fell to 81.4%.  Third, Treasury International Capital flows for November saw net capital inflations rise to US$ 149.9 billion in November from US$ 92.2 billion in October.  Net foreign acquisitions of long-term U.S. securities were US$ 90.9 billion.  Talk remains focused on whether or not the U.S. is in a recession or may soon enter one, and how aggressive the Fed will be at the 30 January FOMC meeting.  There is still widespread speculation the Fed will announce an intermeeting cut before then but the most likely scenario involves a 50bps easing at the end of the month.  Today’s Beige Book will be closely scrutinized by the markets.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.4540 level.



¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥105.90 level and was capped around the ¥106.95 level.  The pair fell to its lowest level since May 2005 as risk aversion continued to grow, reducing demand for short yen carry trades in which proceeds are invested in higher-yielding currencies. Many data were released in Japan overnight. First, November core private sector machinery orders fell 2.8% m/m to ¥1.05 trillion, the first decline in two months. The government today left its assessment of machinery orders unchanged.  Second, the November current account surplus expanded 2.1% to ¥1.78 trillion while the trade surplus fell 9.7% to ¥932.7 billion. Third, the December domestic corporate goods price index rose 2.6% y/y, up from November’s 2.3% level.  Most traders expect Bank of Japan’s Policy Board to keep its overnight rate unchanged at +0.50% for the next several months.  Banking minister Watanabe today said many industries in Japan are “suffering due to high costs” associated with the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S.  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 3.35% to close at ¥13,504.51.  Dollar bids are cited around the ¥106.30 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥156.50 level and was capped around the ¥158.45 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥210.70 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥97.05 level.  The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.2324 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.2411, the pair’s lowest close since the yuan revaluation of July 2005.  People’s Bank of China tightened monetary policy today by hiking the reserve requirement by 50bps to 15.0%, effective 25 January.

The British pound strengthened sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9720 level and was supported around the $1.9525 level.  Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from $2.0100 to $1.9480.  Data released in the U.K. today reconfirmed the labour market remains very tight.  The December claimant count of unemployment fell 6,400 while the jobless rate was unchanged at 2.5%, its lowest level since 1975.  The ILO measure of unemployment was unchanged at 5.3% in the three months to November. Also, average earnings growth remained benign with a flat print of 4.0% in November.  Other data released in the U.K. today saw the RICS November house price balance at -49.1, the worst print in more than fifteen years.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9260 level.  The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.7440 level and was capped around the ₤0.7575 level.



The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1025 level and was supported around the CHF 1.0835 level.  The pair gained ground after establishing a new multi-decade low.  UBS released a 2008 corporate outlook survey today and Swiss companies remain confident about 2008 despite some signs of slowing growth.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1155 level.  The euro slumped vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.6080 level while the British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 2.1620 level.


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