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Thursday March 13, 2008 - 16:25:12 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (13 March 2008)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.5625 level and was supported around the $1.5520 level.  The common currency established a new lifetime high today as traders reacted to the probable bankruptcy of a major hedge fund.  Carlyle Capital is said to have defaulted on US$ 16 billion in margin calls associated with massive mortgage-backed securities positions and is the latest casualty from the ongoing credit market woes.  Some conspiracy theorists suggest this week’s unprecedented Federal Reserve action to lend US$ 200 billion in Treasuries from its balance sheet was an attempt to mitigate the effects of the Carlyle fallout.  Standard & Poors today indicated that write-downs associated with the sub-prime crisis could aggregate US$ 285 billion.  Data released in the U.S. today saw weekly initial jobless claims print at an unchanged 353,000 while continuing jobless claims were up 7,000 to 2.835 million.  Also, February retail sales were off 0.6% with the ex-autos component off 0.2%.  These data were worse-than-expected and evidence the fragile position of final private demand in the U.S.  Also, February import prices were up 0.2% and February export prices were up 0.9%.  The ex-oil import prices component evidenced its largest annual rise in thirteen years.  Traders await tomorrow’s February consumer price inflation data.  President Bush verbally intervened last night, saying he is “absolutely” in favour of a stronger U.S. dollar.  In eurozone news, Eurogroup chairman Juncker verbally intervened, saying the markets should “pay attention to the medium-term perspectives of the U.S. economy.”  Likewise, European Central Bank President Trichet verbally intervened yesterday saying “On the foreign exchange, especially with the dollar, I reaffirm that the disorderly movements of exchange rates are undesirable from the point of view of economic growth.  In the present circumstances, I am preoccupied with the excessive foreign exchange movements.”  Traders must be very conscious of the escalating risk of a concerted global intervention to slow the U.S. dollar’s acute descent, especially as global monetary authorities are relaying their heightened coordination.  German Wise Man Bofinger called on global authorities to intervene to arrest the U.S. dollar’s weakness.  The ECB’s March monthly bulletin reported EMU-15 GDP is unlikely to be above 0.4% in Q1 but noted the economy will continue to expand.  The ECB also reported the upward trend in core inflation needs to be closely watched.  Germany’s IFW institute slashed its 2009 German GDP growth forecast to 1.2% from 1.6%.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.5145 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥99.75 level and was capped around the ¥101.75 level.  This is the first time the pair has traded below the psychologically-important ¥100.00 figure since 1995.  The move below parity was expected amidst the U.S. dollar’s widespread decline and Japanese authorities stepped up their verbal intervention marginally.  Finance minister Nukaga reported “a shared perception among the G7 that excessive exchange rate moves are undesirable” while his MoF colleague Shinohara noted “excessive foreign exchange moves are undesirable.”  Japanese monetary authorities have not overtly intervened in the markets for years but at these levels, there is a growing possibility they could seek to suppress the yen’s advances.  Data released in Japan overnight saw January industrial output fall 2.2% m/m. Also, Tokyo and Osaka condominium estate sales were off 28% y/y and 34.4% y/y respectively in February. Traders are closely watching happenings in the Upper House of Japan’s parliament where opposition figures have blocked the nomination of Muto to succeed retiring BoJ Governor Fukui on 19 March.  It is possible the Fukuda government will submit another nominee and it is possible there will be a vacuum in power atop the central bank if the issue is not resolved in the next week.  Dealers are also continuing to monitor repatriation trades ahead of Japan’s fiscal year-end at the end of the month as Japanese companies sell foreign assets, buy yen, and repatriate the proceeds back to Japan.  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 3.33% to close at ¥12,433.44.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥101.85 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥155.55 level and was capped around the ¥158.25 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥203.00 and ¥98.90 levels, respectively.  The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.0900 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.1010 and the pair’s lowest close since the yuan revaluation of July 2005.  Data released in China today saw industrial value-added output climb 15.4% y/y in the January-February period.

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 2.0390 level and was supported around the $2.0250 level.  The pair reached its highest level since 14 December 2007 as negative U.S. sentiment permeated through the market.  Data released in the U.K. today saw January construction orders fall 1% q/q in the three months to January. Also, Bank of England released a report that indicated the U.K. public’s inflation expectations jumped to 3.3% for the coming year in February.  These inflation expectations data render it more difficult for BoE’s MPC to raise interest rates.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9910 level.  The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.7640 level and was capped around the ₤0.7680 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0045 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0170 level.  The pair established a new multi-decade low before dealers bought the pair back.  As expected, Swiss National Bank kept interest rates unchanged today, and the three-month Swiss franc Libor range was kept at 2.25% to 3.25% with the target at 2.75%, the midpoint of that range.  Notably, the central bank reduced its GDP growth forecast to 1.5% to 2.0% for 2008, and lifted the inflation forecast to 2.0% from 1.7%.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0475 level.  The euro and British pound weakened vis-a-vi the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5675 and CHF 2.0450 levels, respectively.


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