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ASIA OPEN - Market Briefs - May 17, 2004

[ASIA OPEN] [IFR Forex Watch]

[Market Briefs] May 17, 2004
* US April CPI +0.2% v. +0.3% Expected; Ex-Food & Energy +0.3% v. 0.2% Exp.
* US April Real Average Weekly Earnings +0.2%
* US March Business Inventories +0.7%
* Canada March Mfg Shipments 3.4% v. 0.7% expected
* Canada Mar Mfg Inventories +0.3%, Unfilled Orders +0.2%; New Orders +2.4%
* US April Industrial Production +0.8% v. 0.4% Consensus
* US April Capacity Use +0.4 pt to 76.9% v. 76.7% Consensus
* U. Of Michigan Mid May Sentiment At 94.2 v. April at 94.2
* Fed's McTeer: EU Needs To Speed Up Structural Reform
* Fed's Gramlich: Interest Rates To Rise At 'Measured Pace'

[Date GMT Release Per EST/ACT Prev Median Range ]
17May 01:30 AUD Lndg fin--invst M/M Mar n/f -3.7 n/a n/a
01:30 AUD Lndg fin--invst Y/Y Mar n/f 0.9 n/a n/a

17May 23:50 JPY Current acct Y T Mar 1.75 2.16 n/a n/a
23:50 JPY --twelve-month Y T Mar 17.2 17.1 n/a n/a
23:50 JPY CGPI M/M Apr 0.2 0.2 n/a n/a
23:50 JPY CGPI Y/Y Apr 0.6 0.2 n/a n/a
23:50 JPY Export prices M/M Apr 0.3 1.3 n/a n/a
23:50 JPY Export prices Y/Y Apr -3.1 -2.7 n/a n/a
23:50 JPY Import prices M/M Apr 1.2 2.3 n/a n/a
23:50 JPY Import prices Y/Y Apr -0.1 -2.1 n/a n/a
04:30 JPY Ind. output(rev)M/M Mar 0.1p -3.8 n/a n/a
04:30 JPY Ind. output(rev)Y/Y Mar 7.7p 6.7 n/a n/a

17 May JPY 23:50 Japan Capital flows for April
17 May JPY 08:00 Japan Vice Fin Min Hayashi holds news conference

[Currency Summary]
[USD/JPY] made yet another attempt to break through the options & strikes at 115.00, trading to 114.88 just as the US CPI data was released. The core prices rose slightly, though the headline figure was below expectations, which quickly resulted in USD selling as rate hike expectations ease. USD/JPY fell back to 113.95 before finding good support, for another run higher to 114.65/70 on the second, of three attempts by EUR/JPY to break 136.00. The market was caught long, and broad USD profit-taking pushed USD/JPY back to 114.20 at the close, with hedge fund bids stalling further losses. EUR/JPY remains firm at 135.71.

[EUR/USD] was cruelly volatile today after the US data. It rallied from 1.1790 to 1.1875 after CPI rose less than expected, only to selloff to 1.1800 after a wave of German selling at the highs. A subsequent rally reached 1.1900 where options related sellers capped it. A dip to 1.1840 unfolded, followed by hours of 1.1860/90 range trade. Stops remain eyed above 1.1900 and 1.1940 and below 1.1760

[GBP/USD] Cable recovered steep early losses during the US session today, as the US CPI did not live up to potentially dire forecasts, coming in lower than expected at +0.2%. The GBP bounce can be termed a relief rally, bouncing from near 1.7485 lows to as high as 1.7640 before stalling. Contributing to the rally was unchanged University of Michigan data which fell short of expectations for a bounce back in the preliminary May reading, based on the stronger IBD survey
earlier this week.

[USD/CHF] again failed to surmount the 1.3100 level and the pair was battered after succumbing to weak US economic data. Prices slid to 1.2930 after the market saw US bond yields fall back and the dollar slid in sympathy. The same Swiss name that sold USD/CHF yesterday at the session high was at it again today, but buying. He managed to provoke a rally off the session low and prices shot quickly back above 1.3000. Prices slid back in light volume trading as the week drew to a close.

[AUD/USD] rallied off a new 7-month low at 0.6831 on word a large fund was initiating new longs after covering shorts yesterday. Following softer U.S. inflation data, AUD/USD rose to 0.6885/90 on news on buying from CTAs. A German name went on a buying spree in EUR/AUD, taking Aussie down to 0.6860. More weak data saw AUD/USD rise above 0.6900 and Swiss and Aussie names bought, raising prices to 0.6924. A slide to 0.6980 saw buyers emerge for a close above 0.6900.

[NZD/USD] Kiwi dropped to lows in London of 0.5965 with the pressure on the AUD coupled with bullish sentiment on the USD forcing the move lower. NZD/USD opened in NY at 0.6863 with some small buybacks seen ahead of the US data. The data was not enough to trigger fresh USD buys, particularly when USD gains were being defended on option plays v. JPY and EUR. NZD/USD rallied sharply to 0.6960 highs and remained bid into the close.

[USD/CAD] eased within its range today, but continues to consolidate recent strength, spending much of the session on the 1.39 handle. Mixed US data including a not-bad-as-feared CPI number combined with unabashedly strong Canadian manufacturing data (shipments up 3.4%, 5 times expectations) allowed USD/CAD to dip from 1.3975 session highs to 1.3885 late in the day before rebounding to 1.3910 toward the close. 1.3870 support was unmolested.

[Stocks] The DJIA managed only a slight 2 pt gain on the session, but managed to close the week above 10,000 at 10,012. The flat consumer sentiment report from the U. of Michigan weighed on stocks, as did the continued rise in oil prices with fresh highs on oil seen in the morning session. The market is looking for more definitive US data before buying stocks.

[Crude Oil] posted a new inter-day and closing all-time high for nearby futures today, trading $41.56 before easing to $41.38, up 30 cents on the day. The market remains concerned about gasoline supplies and security risks to oil infrastructure. With the market making new all-time highs, the technical resistance becomes indefinite, with psychological resistance at $45.00 and $50.00 as possible mileposts along the road higher. In contrast,a break below $40.75 cools the uptrend.

[Gold] climbed $2.20 to close at $377.10 on Friday, consistent with a softer tone in the US dollar as consumer prices and industrial production were stronger than expected, pointing toward inflation. June finished the session in a position to challenge minor resistance at $378.00, with a breakout setting up a test of more pivotal opposition in the $382.00-384.50 range. This would also establish recent $371.30-373.00 lows as at least a trading bottom. In contrast, a break of $371.30 points to longer-term support first at $362.00.

[IFR Forex Watch]


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13:30 US- Housing Starts/Permits
13:30 US- Current Account
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15:00 US- Existing Homes Sales
15:30 US- EIA Crude
Thu 21 Dec
03:00 JP- BOJ Decision
13:30 CA- CPI & Retail Sales
13:30 US Weely Jobless
13:30 US- GDP
Fri 22 Dec
09:30 US- GB- GDP
13:30 US- core PCE Deflator & Presonal Income
15:00 US- New Homes Sales
15:00 US- final University of Michigan
17:00 US- early Closes
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