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Tuesday March 11, 2008 - 11:15:32 GMT
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FX Blog- TTN Asian Market Update

Asian Market Update: USD/JPY hovers near 8yr low, China's CPI hits 11yr high

- USD/JPY drifted near an 8 year low at the start of the session, and traders talked about massive stops building below 101.20 (a level where many long positions are expected to give up). The market doesn't seem too worried about central bank intervention to weaken the JPY's rise. "When I intervened, the U.S. agreed to it," said Eisuke Sakakibara, Japan's top currency official from 1997 to 1999. "The U.S. now welcomes a gradual decline in the dollar and Treasury takes the position of Detroit. This is affecting how Japan is responding now." Japan's top business lobby group, Keidanren, said it does not plan to call for government intervention, unless USD/JPY drops rapidly in the near- term.

- Carlyle Capital sent out a press release after the New York close, saying that they are continuing talks with lenders. They said that talks have progressed in a "constructive" manner, adding that they have not received an executed standstill agreement from its lenders. Carlyle Capital said yesterday that lenders had issued margin calls in excess of $400M, up from the $37M figure announced last week.

- The nominee for governor of the Bank of Japan, Toshiro Muto, signaled his willingness to cut interest rates. Muto said that the Japanese economy was at a critical point, adding that the central bank must support the economy through very easy policy. The Japanese government has nominated Shirakawa as the central bank deputy, and analysts said that any concerns about Muto's dovishness will be offset by the the hawkish Shirakawa.

- New Zealand's terms of trade index is at its highest level since the March quarter of 1974: (NZ Q4 TERMS OF TRADE INDEX QOQ: 2.9% V 3.6% prior) The seasonally adjusted export volumes rose 10.7% to a new high, while the export price index rose 5.4%. Seasonally adjusted merchandise import volumes were up 5.4%, while the import price index rose 2.5%. The latest increase in the terms of trade was the fifth consecutive quarterly rise, SNZ said. The latest increase was driven by two commodity groups - dairy products and petroleum and petroleum products - both of which also reached record levels.

- China's CPI hits 11 year high: (CH FEB CPI YOY: 8.7% V 7.9% expected, 7.1% prior; Fastest rise since May 1996) Food prices, which make up a third of the consumer basket used in the index calculation, rose 23.3% in February from a year earlier, compared with an increase of 18.2% in the 12 months to January. Non-food prices rose 1.6% in February from a year earlier.

- Demand for Australian home loans grew at a solid pace in January prior to official interest rate increases in February and March: (AU JAN HOME LOANS: 2.3% V 1.0% expected, 0.1% prior; INVESTMENT LENDING: 8.3% V -3.0% prior)

- Australia job ads drop in February, a possible sign that recent interest rate hikes are starting to bite: (AU Feb ANZ Job Advertisements Mom: -2.0% v 1.8% prior) ANZ head of economics Tony Pearson was wary of making too much out of one month's result, but said trend advertisements had fallen for the past three months.

- Equities: At 23:14 EDT Japan's Nikkei is +0.14% (recovering from early losses), the S&P/ASX200 is -1.84%, South Korea's KOSPI is -0.16%, and the Shanghai Composite Index is -1.52%. The S&P futures contract gained +0.34% between 16:30 EDT and 23:16 EDT, last trading around 1,279.90. A technical rebound in miners and metals companies lifted the Nikkei, but upside remains capped due to losses among telecom and financial stocks. The S&P/ASX200 is being dragged lower by weakness among miners and selected financial stocks, with M&A activity supporting the benchmark index (relates to Challenger Infrastructure and Dyno Nobel). Australian government regulators said that they will keep an eye on Aussie companies with high short interest, on concerns that these companies are being targeted by hedge funds looking to trigger margin calls. The KOSPI was supported by gains in shares of automakers and financials, while Chinese equities sold off after stronger than expected inflation data.

- Commodities: Nymex crude oil lost -0. 09% between 18:00 EDT and 23:27 EDT, last trading around $107.82/bbl. Spot gold is higher by +0.38%, last trading around $975.50/oz.


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