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Monday March 3, 2008 - 15:59:15 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (3 March 2008)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.5265 level and was supported around the $1.5160 level.  The common currency continued its upward trajectory and euro bulls are now eyeing the $1.5315 level as a major upside target.    Data released in the eurozone saw no change to EMU-15 February harmonized consumer price inflation at 3.2%, the same as January’s level and around expectations.  The European Central Bank’s ceiling target for inflation is 2.0% thus the 3.2% print is of great concern to policymakers. Most traders do not expect European Central Bank will alter monetary policy on Thursday.  Other data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-15 February manufacturing PMI print at 52.8 while Germany’s tally printed at 54.3.  The slowdown in some economic activity could result, however, in a decrease in hawkishness from ECB President Trichet when he speaks on Thursday.  Also, the ECB will release its most recent updated staff projections on economic growth and inflation on Thursday and could raise its average inflation rate forecast from its current 2.0% to 3.0% range.  ECB member Liebscher said the high price of oil is “crucial” to his monetary policy decision-making.  In U.S. news, some dealers sold the U.S. dollar on Friday’s news that U.S. insurance giant American Insurance Group registered its biggest quarterly loss ever in Q4, losing US$ 5.3 billion due to a US$ 11 billion dollar write-down.  Philadelphia Fed President Plosser today said the Fed has deviated from normal monetary policy on account of the problems in the capital markets and said the Fed may have to normalize policy quickly when conditions warrant.  Data released in the U.S. today saw the February ISM manufacturing index fall to 48.3 from 50.7.  The prices paid sub-index narrowed slightly to 75.5 from 76.0 while the new orders, production, and employment sub-indices all contracted.  Also, January construction spending fell 1.7% m/m from -1.3% in December.  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 ¥102.60 level and was capped around the ¥103.60 level.  The pair reached its lowest level since January 2005 and elicited some verbal intervention from Japanese officials.  Prime Minister Fukuda reported “too sharp forex moves are not good. I am carefully watching” exchange rates.”   Vice finance minister Tsuda said the MoF will “carefully monitor” daily moves while finance minister Nukaga declined comment.  The pair is within striking distance of parity and many traders believe it is only a matter of time before the psychologically-important ¥100.00 figure is tested.  Traders are split, however, as to whether Japanese monetary authorities will intervene by selling yen.  Most traders believe Bank of Japan will keep the overnight call rate unchanged at 0.50% for the foreseeable future.  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 4.49% to close at ¥12,992.18.  Dollar bids are cited around the ¥101.20 level.  The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥155.95 level and was capped around the ¥157.45 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥203.45 and ¥98.80 levels, respectively.  The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.1041 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.1115, the pair’s lowest close since the yuan revaluation of July 2005.  Data released in China overnight saw CLSA February PMI fall to 52.8 while CFLP February PMI improved to 53.4.

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9805 level and was capped around the $1.9935 level.  Sterling could not retain intraday gains it made after the U.K. February manufacturing PMI survey improved to 51.3 from 50.7 in January and the prices sub-index remained strong.  Lloyds TSB released a survey that reported consumers’ fears about inflation were rapidly worsening.  Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is expected to keep its repo rate unchanged on Thursday and possibly lower rates in April or May.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9730/ 1.9660 levels.  The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.7675 level and was supported around the ₤0.7635 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0305 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0420 level.  The pair established a new multi-decade low.  Data released in Switzerland today saw February PMI fall to 60.5 from a revised 61.6 in January.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0635 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5850 level while the British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 2.0450 level.

A$/ NZ$

The Australian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.9420 level and was supported around the $0.9275 level.  Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to raise its target rate by 25bps this week.  Data released in Australia overnight saw the TD Securities monthly inflation gauge rise 0.3% m/m and 4.0% y/y, up from 3.9% y/y in January and the highest annualized result in six years.  Data released in Australia today saw Q4 inventories rise 0.7% q/q while the February performance of manufacturing index improved +2.2 points.  Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.9275 level.  The New Zealand dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.8045 level and was supported around the $0.7920 level.  New Zealand dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.7895 level.


The Canadian dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 0.9900 figure and was supported around the C$ 0.9825 level.  Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from C$ 1.0195 to C$ 0.9710.  Data released in Canada today saw Q4 GDP rise 0.2%, down from 0.7% in Q3, and was up 2.9% y/y.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 0.9960 level.


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