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Friday February 29, 2008 - 15:06:07 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (29 February 2008)

The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.5160 level and was capped around the $1.5240 level.  The common currency established another new lifetime high on an intraday basis before selling off as traders booked some profits ahead of month-end.  The markets are now pricing in about a 60% chance the Federal Open Market Committee will reduce the federal funds target rate by 75bps by the end of the 18 March FOMC meeting.  Data released in the U.S. today saw January personal income up +0.3% while personal spending was up +0.4%.  Additionally, the January core PCE deflator was up 3.7% y/y on the headline while the core PCE deflator was up +0.3% m/m and +2.2% y/y.  These data reaffirm that core consumer price inflation remains well above the Fed’s perceived 2.0% upper comfort zone level.  Other data released today saw the Chicago Purchasing Managers index fall to 44.5 in February from 51.5 in January while the final University of Michigan consumer sentiment index weakened to 70.8 from 78.4.  In eurozone news, the EMU-15 February economic sentiment indicator fell to a two-year low of 100.1.  Also, German consumer prices rose 0.5% m/m and 2.8% y/y in February while EMU-15 January harmonized consumer prices were up 3.2% y/y, unchanged from provisional estimated and significantly above the European Central Bank’s 2.0% ceiling target.  It was also reported that the EMU-15 January unemployment rate printed at 7.1%, down from 7.2% in December.  Most traders do not expect the European Central Bank will change monetary policy in March.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.4940 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥104.00 figure and was capped around the ¥105.35 level.  The pair has not traded at these low levels since March 2005.  Traders are becoming increasingly expectant of verbal or actual intervention from the Ministry of Finance.  The yen gained on escalating risk aversion following the run-up in oil prices above the psychologically-important US$ 100.00 figure and spike in commodities prices.  This also entails a reversal of short yen carry trades in which traders borrowed yen and invested in higher-yielding currencies. Data released in Japan overnight saw the January unemployment rate unchanged at 3.8% while January all-household spending was up 3.6% y/y.  Also, January core consumer price inflation rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 0.8% y/y on account of higher food and gasoline prices. These prices pressures are generally imported, however, and domestic demand remains relatively weak.  Most traders expect Bank of Japan’s Policy Board will keep its overnight call rate unchanged at 0.50 next week.  Other data released overnight saw January orders received by the 50 largest contractors fall 2.5% while January housing starts fell 5.7% y/y.  The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 2.32% to close at ¥13,603.02.  Dollar bids are cited around the ¥103.35 level.   The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥157.85 level and was capped around the ¥160.20 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥205.95 and ¥99.25 levels, respectively.  The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.1115 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.1133, the pair’s lowest close since the yuan revaluation of July 2005.

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9785 level and was capped around the $1.9920 level.  Data released in the U.K. today saw Nationwide February house prices fall 0.5% m/m, the fourth consecutive monthly decline.  Also, Bank of England reported mortgage approvals rose 74,000 in January from 72,000 in December.   The GfK consumer confidence index fell to -17 in February from -13 in January, its weakest level since December 1994.  BoE also reported that total consumer lending grew ₤8.4 billion in January, less-than-expected, while M4 money supply growth was up an annualized 13.1%, the highest level since August 2007.  Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is expected to reduce the repo rate by another 25bps over the next couple of months.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9730/ 1.9660 levels.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.7675 level and was supported around the ₤0.7625 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0425 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0525 level.  The pair continues to establish new multi-decade lows on growing risk aversion.  Data released in Switzerland today saw the KOF February economic barometer fall to 1.65 from a revised 1.75 in January.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0635 level.  The euro and British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5850 and CHF 2.0680 levels, respectively.


A$/ NZ$

The Australian dollar depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$ 0.9325 level and was capped around the $0.9485 level.  Data released in Australia today saw January private sector credit growth up 1.1% m/m and 16.4% y/y.  Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.9275 level.  The New Zealand dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested bids around the US$ 0.8015 level and was capped around the $0.8170 level.  New Zealand dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.8015 level.


The Canadian dollar depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 0.9845 level and was supported around the C$ 0.9750 level.  Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from C$ 1.0865 to C$ 0.9060.  Canadian finance minister verbally intervened on the loonie yesterday saying policymakers are “always concerned with…volatility in the Canadian dollar. As you know, that's a matter of monetary policy for the Bank of Canada to address and I'm sure that the Governor is watching the dollar.”  Data released in Canada today saw the Q4 current account register a deficit for the first time since Q2 1999, printing at –C$ 513 million. Also, the January industrial product price index rose 0.9% m/m, down from 1.1% in December.  Additionally, the raw materials price index climbed 3.4% in January. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 0.9960 level.


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