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Thursday February 28, 2008 - 16:29:54 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (28 February 2008)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.5150 level and was supported around the $1.5075 level.  The pair established a new lifetime low after the release of generally weak U.S. economic data.  First, it was reported that weekly initial jobless claims rose 19,000 to 373,000 with the four-week moving average at 360,500 and continuing jobless claims up 21,000 to 2.807 million, the highest level since October 2005.  Second, Q4 GDP expanded an unrevised 0.6% on an annualized basis, significantly lower than Q3’s 4.9% print.  The weak GDP print was coincident with higher inflation activity.  The headline PCE index was upwardly revised to 4.1% from 3.9% while the core PCE index printed at 2.7%, significantly above the Fed’s perceived comfort ceiling around 2.0%. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke is testifying before the Senate today and is likely to repeat much of his comments from yesterday in which he suggested interest rates may need to fall further.  Today’s data evidence the difficult economic environment in the U.S. where economic activity is slowing and inflation pressures are accelerating.  In eurozone news, Eurogroup chairman Juncker verbally intervened in the markets saying the eurozone “doesn’t like excessive volatility in exchange rates. We think that the financial markets are reacting too hastily to very short-term projections.”  Data released in the eurozone today saw German February jobless rate fall to 8.0% from January’s 8.1% level, the lowest level since 1992.  Also, French January producer price inflation was up 0.5% m/m and 4.9% y/y.  European Central Bank member Weber said the market’s current expectations regarding interest rates “underestimate” inflation risks.  Continued comments such as Weber’s evidence the ongoing hawkishness of ECB policymakers.  It was also reported that German January wholesale sales were up 3.8% m/m and 4.8% y/y.  Also, EMU-15 retail PMI rose to 52.4 in February from 48.1 in January.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.4940 level.


¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥105.80 level and was capped around the ¥106.65 level.  The pair is now less than 100 pips away from its lowest level since May 2005.  Data released in Japan overnight saw January retail sales rise 1.5% y/y, the sixth consecutive month of higher retail sales.  In contrast, January industrial output fell 2.0% m/m, the first decline in two months.  Data to be released tonight include consumer inflation, unemployment, and housing.  The government released a fiscal assessment overnight that concludes the overall fiscal situation “remains severe.”  Bank of Japan Policy Board member Mizuno reported “The Japanese economy, beset with troubles both at home and abroad, is now in a soft patch-like situation, and I also see the risk that this situation may be prolonged. While problems in Japan are expected to fade in the year to March 2009, downside risks stemming from factors outside Japan, such as the volatile financial markets, may grow.  Given the increased downside risks, we can not rule out the possibility of the Japanese economy posting lower growth than its potential growth rate.” There is growing speculation the Japanese economy has become more susceptible to downside economic risks in the U.S. economy.  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.75% to close at ¥13,925.51.  Dollar bids are cited around the ¥104.20 level.  The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥160.10 level and was capped around the ¥161.05 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥210.15 and ¥99.90 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.1133 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.1420 – the pair’s lowest close since the yuan revaluation of July 2005.  A government think-tank reported Q1 GDP will be up about 10.5% with consumer price inflation up 6.9%.

The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today
as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9905 level and was supported around the $1.9760 level.  Cable reclaimed much of yesterday’s losses following some fairly hawkish comments from Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Besley.  He said “What is key is that we are going to see a run-up due to food and electricity prices. The Bank is committed, and will remain committed, to bringing inflation back to target over the medium term. There is quite a long chain of links before import prices hit you and me. Some we buy as raw materials, such as petrol, hit us more immediately. But for a lot of goods there is a chain through which it will eventually come. The speed with which it comes through and by how much is something about which there is much uncertainty.”  Data released in the U.K. today saw Land Registry January house prices in England and Wales rose 0.9% m/m and 6.4% y/y.   Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9730/ 1.9660 levels.  The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.7635 level and was supported around the ₤0.7610 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0515 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0645 level.  The pair established a new multi-decade low.  Data released in Switzerland today saw the number of employed persons in Switzerland rise 2.7% y/y in Q4 2007.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0635 level.  The euro and British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5975 and CHF 2.0925 levels, respectively.

A$/ NZ$

The Australian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.9480 level and was supported around the $0.9365 level.  The pair established a fresh 24-year high after data were released that saw private sector investment up a quarterly 5.1% in Q4, above expectations.  Many traders believe Reserve Bank of Australia will tighten monetary policy twice this year.  Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.9340 level.  The New Zealand dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback tested bids around the US$ 0.8105 level and was capped around the $0.8180 level.  New Zealand dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.7970 level.


The Canadian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 0.9725 level and was capped around the C$ 0.9820 level.  Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from C$ 1.1875 to C$ 0.9055.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 0.9960 level.


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