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Tuesday March 11, 2008 - 15:31:16 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (11 March 2008)

The euro erased intraday gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.5325 level and was capped around the $1.5495 level.  The common currency established a new lifetime high just below the psychologically-important US$ 1.5500 figure before losing ground.  An announcement from the Federal Reserve that it was increasing liquidity provision in two different fashions led to a major reversal and rally in the dollar. First, the Fed announced the creation of a Term Securities Lending Facility under which the Fed will lend up to US$ 200 billion in Treasury securities for a term of 28 days secured with agency and mortgage-backed paper.  This new facility would effectively lend the Fed’s balance sheet in exchange for lesser-grade paper and seek to reinforce confidence in the U.S. mortgage market.  Second, the Fed announced it was increasing its reciprocal currency swap lines with the European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank by a cumulative US$ 12 billion.  The increase in swap lines will avail more U.S. dollars in the eurozone and Switzerland in a bid to ease U.S. dollar borrowing rates.  Bank of England and Bank of Canada joined the Fed, ECB, and SNB in providing additional liquidity measures.  Following the announcement, the markets scaled back their expectations concerning the likelihood of a 75bps easing by the FOMC on 18 March. The most likely scenario now involves a 5-bps reduction in the federal funds target rate.  Data released in the U.S. today saw the January trade balance print at –US$ 58.2 billion, worse than December’s –US$ 57.9 billion level.  In eurozone news, the European Central Bank announced it will again provide U.S. dollar liquidity in concert with the Fed’s announcement today. The common currency earlier rocketed to fresh lifetime highs after it was announced that Germany’s ZEW economic expectations index climbed to -32.0 in March from February’s -39.5 level.  ECB member Weber reported price risks in the eurozone economy are “very high” and outweigh downside economic growth risks. Weber also suggested the Bundesbank may need to upwardly revised its 2008 economic growth forecast from around 1.5%.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.5145 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥103.20 level and was supported around the ¥101.40 level.  Technically, today’s intraday high was around the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥108.35 to ¥101.40.  Finance minister Nukaga verbally intervened again against the yen saying foreign exchange markets “must be watched very closely.”  Bank of Japan Governor nominee Muto said he would conduct monetary policy “as appropriate” but boldly, countering claims from opposition candidates that he has been too involved with the Ministry of Finance to lead the central bank.  The Fukuda government is trying to secure Muto’s position as quickly as possible so as to avoid a power vacuum at the central bank when outgoing BoJ Governor Fukui retires.  Data released overnight saw revised February machine tool orders off 0.5% y/y to ¥130.8 billion.  Economic policy minister Ota said there is evidence the U.S. economic slowdown is intensifying.  A survey associated with Japan’s Economic Planning Association reported private economists estimate gross domestic product will increase 0.42% in Q1, much smaller than the previous estimate of 1.65%.  The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.01% to close at ¥12,658.28.  U.S. dollar bids are cited around the ¥101.20 level.  The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥158.95 level and was supported around the ¥155.60 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥207.50 and ¥100.70 levels, respectively.  In Chinese news, it was reported that February consumer price inflation was up 8.7% y/y and this will likely result in additional monetary tightening from People’s Bank of China.  China announced a major government revamp overnight and traders are watching to see how economic and financial policymaking may be consolidated. 

The British pound fell vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 2.0015 level and was capped around the $2.0210 level.  Cable gave back sizable intraday gains after the Fed announcement it would ply the markets with an appreciable amount of liquidity.  BRC reported February high street sales slowed on account of a decline in confidence, up 1.5% y/y from January’s 2.6% y/y print, while RICS indicated the U.K. housing market worsened last month amid near-record house price falls.  CML reported that January mortgage loans fell 19% m/m.  NIESR reported economy activity in the U.K. increased in the three months to February but remained below trend growth levels.  Finally, the government reported January annual house price inflation fell to 8.0% from 8.4% in December.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9910 level.  The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.7680 level and was supported around the ₤0.7635 level.



The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.0325 level and was supported around the CHF 1.0150 level.  The pair came within fifteen pips of establishing a new multi-decade low before being lifted higher following the Fed’s announcement.  Most traders do not expect Swiss National Bank will change monetary policy this week.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0475 level.  The euro and British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5829 and CHF 2.0705 levels, respectively.


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