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Tuesday March 4, 2008 - 14:25:30 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (4 March 2008)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.5230 level and was supported around the $1.5170 level.  The common currency established a new intraday high yesterday before ceding some gains.  Eurozone finance ministers verbally today, noting they are “closely monitoring” exchange rates.   European Central Bank member Quaden suggested the U.S. should reiterate its long-standing strong-dollar policy.  Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-15 January industrial product prices rise 0.8% m/m and 4.9% y/y, the strongest annual gain since August 2006.  Wholesale inflation at the factory gate level will continue to render it difficult for the ECB to reduce interest rates anytime soon.  Other data released today saw EMU-13 Q4 GDP up 0.4% q/q and 2.2% y/y, unchanged from provisional estimates.  Also, German January plant, machinery new orders were up 7% y/y.  Most traders do not expect European Central Bank will change monetary policy on Thursday and will pay close attention to remarks from ECB President Trichet who may highlight growing downside risks for economic growth.  In U.S. news, traders await Friday’s February non-farm payrolls number.  A weak set of data will likely result in increased speculation about a 50bps or 75bps interest rate cut by the Federal Open Market Committee on 18 March or perhaps another intermeeting rate cut. Fed Chairman Bernanke called on lenders to enact “vigorous solutions” to counter foreclosures in the mortgage market.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.4940 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥102.90 level and was capped around the ¥103.55 level.  North American dealers bought the pair back yesterday after it had plumbed to multi-year lows.  More verbal intervention was evident overnight as finance minister Nukaga said “We will keep watching movements in foreign exchange rates from now on.” Economy minister Ota said the yen’s moves were “abnormally rapid” and added “I'm really concerned about the recent abnormal strengthening of the yen against the dollar. The strong yen is hurting the profits of Japanese corporations.”  Similarly, Prime Minister Fukuda reported he was watching the yen with the “utmost care.”  Most dealers do not believe the government will order the Bank of Japan to intervene by selling yen anytime soon.  Data released in Japan overnight saw the February monetary base rise 0.1% y/y.  Most traders expect Bank of Japan’s Policy Board to keep the overnight call rate unchanged at 0.50% for the foreseeable future.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed marginally to close at ¥12,992.28.  Dollar bids are cited around the ¥101.20 level.  The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥156.50 level and was capped around the ¥157.40 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥204.40 and ¥99.05 levels, respectively.  The Chinese yuan depreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.1060 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 7.1041.

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9890 level and was supported around the $1.9810 level.  Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 76.4% retracement of the move from $1.9955 to $1.9355.  Data released in the U.K. today saw February construction PMI recede to 52.4, its weakest level since June 2006.  It was also reported that U.K. companies spent ₤25.8 billion on acquisitions overseas in Q4 2007.  Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is not expected to reduce interest rates on Thursday with a move more likely in April or May.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9730/ 1.9660 levels.  The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.7635 level and was capped around the ₤0.7665 level. 


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0350 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0430 level.  The pair yesterday established a new multi-decade low before dealers bought the U.S. dollar back.  Data released in Switzerland today saw Q4 GDP up 3.6% y/y, an improvement from Q3’s print of 1.0%.  Also, February consumer price inflation was up 0.1% m/m and 2.4% y/y.  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 1.5750 and CHF 2.0560 levels, respectively.

A$/ NZ$

The Australian dollar depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$ 0.9265 level and was capped around the $0.9405 level.  As expected, Reserve Bank of Australia tightened monetary policy overnight, lifting the cash rate target by 25bps to 7.25% - its highest level since the mid 1990s.  Inflation remains elevated in Australia and was running at an annualized 3.0% in the December quarter with core inflation around 3.5%.  RBA noted, however, that its cumulative rate hikes since mid-2007 have tightened credit conditions significantly and many traders took this as a suggestion the central bank may move to a wait-and-see move.  RBA Governor Stevens suggested inflation could rise even further by year end before moderating next year.  Data released in Australia overnight saw the current account balance print at –A$ 19.3 billion in the three months to December.  Also, January retail sales were unchanged m/m. A government forecast estimates Australian commodity exports are expected to rise 30% to a record A$ 189 billion this year.  Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.9120 level.  The New Zealand dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the kiwi tested bids around the US$ 0.7995 level and was capped around the $0.8075 level.  Kiwi bids are cited around the US$ 0.7895 level.


The Canadian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 0.9850 level and was capped around the C$ 0.9930 level.  Bank of Canada reduced its overnight target rate by 50bps to 3.50%.  BoC reported GDP growth and inflation growth have been consistent with expectations but warned the U.S. economy is “likely to experience a deeper and more prolonged slowdown than had been projected in January…The Bank now judges that the balance of risks around its January projection for inflation has clearly shifted to the downside, and, as a result, the Bank is lowering the target for the overnight rate. Further monetary stimulus is likely to be required in the near term to keep aggregate supply and demand in balance and to achieve the 2 per cent inflation target over the medium term.” The central bank will update its economic forecasts for economic growth and inflation in its Monetary Policy Report on 24 April 2008.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 0.9960 level.


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