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Friday March 7, 2008 - 15:22:48 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (7 March 2008)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.5320 level and was capped around the $1.5460 level.  The common currency failed to hold many of the gains it earned in the North American session following the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. February non-farm payrolls data.  It was reported the U.S. economy lost 63,000 jobs last month with the unemployment rate at 4.8% and average hourly earnings up +0.3%.  There were also downward revisions of -41,000 and -5,000 to December’s and January’s jobs tallies, respectively.  Just prior to the release of these data, the Federal Reserve announced it was increasing the amounts outstanding in its Term Auction Facility to US$ 100 billion to offer additional liquidity to the market.  The Fed also announced it would initiate a series of repurchase agreements aggregating US$ 100 billion as 28-day repos.  The Fed also noted it is in “close consultation with foreign central bank counterparts concerning liquidity conditions in markets” and this has some dealers wondering if global monetary authorities may be orchestrating foreign exchange intervention.  There had been extensive rumours overnight that the Fed would announce another intermeeting rate cut but they have not yet materialized. Most traders believe the Federal Open Market Committee will ease monetary policy further on 18 March and/ or 30 April.  San Francisco Fed President Yellen said the U.S. economic slowdown will decrease inflationary pressures. Dallas Fed President Fisher warned “(The Fed) reacted with very deliberate actions which took place over a very short period of time, and I think that shouldn't lead markets to expectations that we will continue to react in that manner. I would discourage you from thinking that simply because of significant action in credit markets like we had yesterday, that suddenly we are going to have a meeting of the open market committee and that suddenly we are going to move Fed funds rates in response.” In eurozone news, German January industrial output was up 1.8% m/m and 6.9% y/y.  European Central Bank member Weber hawkishly said the prospect of weaker EMU-15 economic growth is not enough reason to anticipate weaker inflation pressures.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.5145 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥101.40 level and was capped around the ¥102.90 level.  The pair reached its lowest level since January 2000 and was within a few pips of reaching its lowest level since December 1995.  Traders are wondering if current levels will result in yen-selling intervention by Japanese monetary authorities.  As expected, Bank of Japan’s Policy Board kept the overnight call rate unchanged at 0.50%.  The central bank downgraded its assessment of the economy for March, reporting the pace of global growth is slowing on account of higher energy and materials prices.  Outgoing BoJ Governor Fukui reported “downside risks, led by the U.S. economy, are growing stronger.” He added “Investors are now seeking more safe-haven assets, which came about because of the irregular movement of stock market prices and forex market rates.”  Regarding Japan’s economy, he added “While the Japanese economy is likely to slow, chances remain high that it will maintain its steady growth under a stable price environment, as the virtuous cycle of rising production, income and spending remains intact.” Concerning the yen, Fukui noted “While the stronger yen affects our export competitiveness, we should also assess the impact that a stronger yen could yield on trading conditions, including the impact on the cost of imported energy and materials.”  The government formally nominated BoJ Deputy Governor Muto to succeed Fukui, who retires on 19 March, and his nomination will be fiercely challenged by opposition political parties.  Data released in Japan overnight confirmed that Japan’s foreign exchange reserves reached a record US$ 1.01 trillion overnight.  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 3.27% to close at ¥12,782.80.  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 ¥156.70 level and was capped around the ¥158.25 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥204.85 and ¥99.80 levels, respectively.  The Chinese yuan weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.1110 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 7.1059. People’s Bank of China Vice Governor Yi Gang reported the central bank “will make the exchange rate regime move to a market-based, floating regime. The flexibility of the exchange rate will increase in the future.”

The British pound appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 2.0215 level and was supported around the $2.0085 level.  Cable reached its highest level since 18 December 2007 and unlike the euro, managed to sustain some of the gains it earned after the release of the weak U.S. non-farm payrolls numbers.  Data released in the U.K. today saw ISD pay deals remain steady at 3.5% in the three months to February.  Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is expected to possibly reduce interest rates next month or in April. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 2.0040 level.  The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.7600 figure and was capped around the ₤0.7655 level.


The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.0285 level and was supported around the CHF 1.0135 level.  Swiss National Bank reported it is not going to participate in the Fed’s latest Term Auction Facilities to obtain U.S. dollar liquidity.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0475 level.  The euro and British pound rallied vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5770 and CHF 2.0740 levels, respectively.

A$/ NZ$

The Australian dollar rallied vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.9370 level and was supported around the $0.9245 level.  Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.9225 level.  The New Zealand dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.8010 level and was supported around the $0.7905 level.  New Zealand dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.7795 level.


The Canadian dollar weakened marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 0.9865 level and was supported around the C$ 0.9735 level.  Data released in Canada today saw new jobs creation of 43,300 in February, much higher-than-expected, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8%.  February wage growth was up 4.9% y/y.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 0.9955 level.


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