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Monday September 15, 2008 - 15:35:09 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (15 September 2008)

The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.4085 level and was capped around the $1.4480 level.  Trading was quite volatile as traders reacted to the bankruptcy of U.S. investment banking giant Lehman Brothers, a 158-year old firm that failed to secure emergency funding from the U.S. government or find a buyer this weekend.  The U.S. government concluded the financial markets had ample time to prepare themselves for a possible Lehman failure and did not want to jeopardize taxpayer funds through a bailout.  Other news over the weekend included Bank of America’s agreement to purchase Merrill Lynch and AIG’s massive restructuring effort.  The biggest issue on policymakers’ and traders’ minds involves systemic risk and contagion.  The common currency gained ground overnight on the premise that Lehman’s failure could lead to the failures of other financial institutions in the U.S.  Traders later bought the U.S. dollar back, however, on the notion that financial strains may be felt overseas including possible bank failures in the eurozone.   An announcement that several of the world’s largest banks established a US$ 70 billion borrowing facility to bolster worldwide liquidity also led to the greenback’s turnaround.   The appreciable strains in the U.S. financial system may also result in an unanticipated move by the Federal Open Market Committee tomorrow.  Some traders are speculating the FOMC may reduce its federal funds target rate by 25bps in response to ongoing problems in the U.S. financial sector. The fed funds market is pricing in about an 80% chance the Fed will cut rates tomorrow.  The Fed announced yesterday that it was broadening the types of collateral that could be pledged at the Primary Dealer Credit Facility and Term Securities Lending Facility.  Data released in the U.S. today saw August industrial output fall 1.1%, the largest decline since September 2005, while capacity utilization fell to 78.7%, the lowest level since October 2004.  Other data released in the U.S. today saw the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s Empire State manufacturing index fell to -7.31 in September. In eurozone news, EMU-15 labour costs moderated in Q2, rising 2.7% y/y, down from 3.5% in Q1.  European Central Bank President Trichet today said “there is no place for complacency, but for permanent credible alertness.”  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3840 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥104.50 level and was capped around the ¥106.90 level.  Technically, today’s intraday low was below the 38.2% retracement of the move from ¥95.70 to ¥110.65.  The yen scored major gains across the board as traders worked feverishly to reduce their exposure to foreign asset markets on account of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, AIG’s restructuring, and Merrill Lynch’s quick sale to Bank of America.  Yield-hungry traders were forced to unwind some short yen carry trades in which they invested proceeds in higher-yielding investments overseas and this unwinding led to a major appreciation in the yen.  Bank of Japan’s Policy Board convenes early this week and is not expected to change the overnight call rate from 0.50%.  U.S. dollar bids are cited around the ¥102.45 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥148.55 level and was capped around the ¥152.90 level.  The British pound and Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥187.25 and ¥93.55 levels, respectively.  In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China reduced interest rates overnight, cutting its benchmark one-year lending rate by 27bps to 7.20% - the first cut in the key interest rate since February 2002.  Data last week showed consumer price inflation slowed to 4.9% in August from 8.7% in February.  Also, commercial banks’ reserve requirements were reduced by 1.00% to 16.5%, effective 25 September.

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7765 level and was capped around the $1.8125 level.  Cable gapped higher at the Australasian open and sank during the European session before North American players took it higher.  Sterling reacted to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and U.K. regulators are assessing U.K. financial institutions’ exposure to the failed institution.  CBI reported the U.K. economy is falling into a recession.  Many traders believe Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will reduce interest rates at least once before the end of the year.  Cable bids are cited around the $1.7605 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.7910 level and was capped around the ₤0.8005 level.    


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today
as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1055 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1280 level.  Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 50% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2475 to CHF 0.9645.  Data released in Switzerland today saw August producer and import prices rise 4.0% y/y and decline 0.5% m/m.  Also, July retail sales were up 6.2% y/y.  Swiss National Bank is not expected to change interest rates on Thursday.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1430 level.  The euro and British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5860 and CHF 1.9970 levels, respectively.


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