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Thursday January 17, 2008 - 18:26:35 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 January 2008)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.4715 level and was supported around the $1.4590 level.  Technically, today’s intraday low was just below the 50% retracement of the move from $1.4310 to $1.4920.  More downbeat U.S. economic data were released today.   First, weekly initial jobless claims fell 21,000 to 301,000 while continuing claims rose 66,000 to 2.751 million.  Second, December home construction fell to its lowest level in sixteen years, off 14.2% m/m to an annualized 1.006 million units, much worse than expected.  Also, December housing starts were off 38.2% y/y and for all of 2007, starts were off 24.8% from 2006’s level.  Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke testified in Congress today and reiterated the FOMC was prepared to enact “substantive” rate cuts if required to counter the risks associated with a slowing economy and dislocations in the financial markets.  Bernanke also endorsed a proposed economic stimulus plan if it is enacted quickly and noted core inflation remains elevated.  Similarly, Cleveland Fed President Pianalto said the U.S. economy has moved to “a slower growth track” and added she is concerned the Fed could lose the public’s confidence in maintaining price stability.  Other data released in the U.S. today saw the January Philadelphia Fed’s general business conditions index fall to -20.9.  The Fed’s Beige Book yesterday said economic growth moderated between November and December.  In eurozone news, the euro came off yesterday on comments from ECB member Mersch who yesterday said there are “certainly downside risks” and added the ECB may “look through” oil-driven inflation.  Mersch also spoke today and said the ECB recently discussed keeping rates steady and raising them only.  Data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-13 November trade surplus fall to €2.6 billion.  The ECB today noted base inflation effects are likely to have a strong downward impact on inflation in 2008.  Finance ministers from the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy convene in Paris tonight ahead of the G7 meeting in Tokyo on 9 February.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.4540 level.


¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥106.60 level and was capped around the ¥107.85 level.  Negative U.S. dollar sentiment increased demand for yen one day after the pair tested the ¥105 handle for the first time since May 2005.  Data released in Japan overnight saw December corporate bankruptcies fall 1.7% m/m while industrial output came off 1.6% m/m in November.  Traders await Bank of Japan Policy Board’s interest rate meeting next week along with the probably downgrade to GDP growth forecasts to the fiscal year to March 2008.  Most traders do not expect the BoJ to change the overnight call rate from 0.50% anytime soon.  The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 2.07% to close at ¥13,783.45.  Dollar bids are cited around the ¥104.20 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥156.40 level and was capped around the ¥157.80 level.  The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥212.40 level while the Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥97.00 figure.  In Chinese news, December property prices in 70 major Chinese cities were up 10.5% y/y. 


The British pound strengthened sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9790 level and was supported around the $1.9605 level.  Sterling gained ground on comments from Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Gieve who hawkishly noted the global increase in oil and food prices will “likely raose our inflation rate well above target in the coming months at a time when short-term inflation expectations remain uncomfortably high.  These are testing times for the MPC.” BCC today forecast slowing economic growth and elevated inflation will be difficult for the U.K. economy.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9260 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.7415 level and was capped around the ₤0.7480 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0950 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1085 level.  Data released in Switzerland today saw the January ZEW investor sentiment indicator decline to -32.7.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1155 level.  The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.6180 and CHF 2.1810 levels, respectively.


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