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Friday November 21, 2008 - 15:18:33 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (21 November 2008)


The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2635 level and was supported around the $1.2425 level.  The common currency continued its ascent as traders continued to punish the greenback for a variety of factors.  First, there is increasing talk about deflation hitting the U.S. economy.  St. Louis Fed President Bullard last night said the Fed may need to rely on “quantitative easing” to fend off deflation if it emerges.  The Federal Open Market Committee is expected to ease its federal funds target rate by 50bps on 16 December.  Second, U.S. equity markets continued their rout yesterday with the Dow Jones closing at its lowest level since March 2003, right around the 50% retracement of the move from 769 to 14,198.  There is increasing speculation that U.S. banking giant Citigroup may pursue a tie-up with another financial institution.  The company was a $23 stock last month and is a $5 stock today.  Third, dealers are reducing exposure to the greenback after U.S. automakers failed to get a bailout deal from the Bush administration and Congress this week.  In eurozone news, European Central Bank member Mersch warned EMU-15 prices could decline next year but said he does not anticipate any deflation.  ECB member Nowotny reiterated “Because of the significantly lower inflationary pressures there are certainly possibilities for interest rate policy.”   ECB’s Weber added “Owing to a remarkable decline in inflationary pressure in the medium term and rapidly deteriorating economic prospects, euro-area monetary policy in my view has enough leeway for further easing if necessary.”  Data released in the eurozone saw the EMU-15 November Market PMI index decline to a record low of 39.7 while the prices charged index receded to 47.6, its lowest level since July 2003.  Likewise, the EMU-15 November Market PMI services index fell to 43.3.  The German government won approval to raise €18.5 billion in new net borrowing in 2009.  Other data released today saw French October consumer spending decline 0.4%.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2135 level.



¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥95.50 level and was supported around the ¥93.65 levels.  As expected, Bank of Japan’s Policy Board kept its overnight call rate unchanged at 0.3% and Governor Shirakawa warned “The global economy is expected to experience a severe adjustment for some time.  Reflecting this, it will take a significant amount of time for conditions to return that will allow an economic recovery in Japan.”  He also warned against cutting rates again right now, reporting “Japan's interest rates are already at very low levels. If we were to ensure smooth functioning of money markets, cutting rates further could cause various problems. We need to be especially aware of this point at a time like this, when financial market functions are worsening.” Notably, the government reduced its economic assessment for the sixth time this year, reporting “Amid a further slowdown in the global economy, the downward pressure on the Japanese economy is increasing rapidly.”  The government also indicated exports are worsening and “decreasing.”  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 2.70% to close at ¥7,910.79.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.15 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥120.15 level and was supported around the ¥116.45 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥143.20 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥78.30 level.  The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8311 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 6.8345.  Some economists are predicting China’s economy could experience deflation next year and this will lead to increased speculation about an easier monetary policy from People’s Bank of China. 

The British pound appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.5060 level and was supported around the $1.4710 level.  Data released in the U.K. today saw home repossessions print at 11,300 in Q3, up from 10,100 in Q2.  Bank of England Chief Economist Dale yesterday revealed the Monetary Policy Committee will reduce interest rates further if required to ensure inflation meets its 2% medium-term target.  Commenting on exchange rates, he reported “Sterling has fallen by around 15 percent in the past year and that should help to support exports.” Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.4315 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.8370 level and was capped around the ₤0.8465 level. 





The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2175 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2300 figure.  Swiss National Bank yesterday surprised the markets today by reducing interest rates by 100bps, its third reduction in rapid succession.  SNB lowered its target band for three-month Swiss franc LIBOR to 0.50% - 1.50% from the previous 1.50% - 2.50% range and is now targeting 1.0%.  Officials reported “International economic conditions have worsened appreciably, bringing a higher risk of a marked slowdown in economic activity in Switzerland next year.”  Notably, today’s action came just weeks before the scheduled December quarterly review.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2450 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5415 level while the British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 1.8405 level.


The Australian dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.6280 level and was supported around the $0.6075 level.  The pair came close to establishing new multi-year lows.  Most traders expect Reserve Bank of Australia will continue to ease monetary policy.  Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6965 level.


The Canadian dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.2740 level and was capped around the C$ 1.2980 level.  The pair has gained about twelve handles in the past three weeks.  Data released in Canada today saw October consumer prices register their largest decline in nearly 50 years, off 1% m/m and up 2.6%.  The core rate was unchanged at 1.7%.  Bank of Canada is expected to reduce interest rates further on 9 December.  U.S. dollar bids are cited around the C$ 1.2375 level. 


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