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Tuesday December 16, 2008 - 15:39:53 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (16 December 2008)

The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3770 level and was supported around the $1.3630 level.  The Federal Open Market Committee is convening today and is likely to reduce the overnight federal funds target rate by at least 50bps to 0.50% if not a 75bps move to 0.25%.  The Fed is likely to cite the ongoing challenges posed by the global credit crunch, worsening employment, and declining final private demand as factors in its decision.  Additionally, insofar as interest rates are approaching zero per cent, the Fed may reiterate that it may turn to new facilities and measures to enhance the provision of liquidity to the markets.  Data released in the U.S. today saw the November consumer price index fall 1.7% after declining 1% in October. Core CPI excluding food and energy was flat m/m after declining 0.1% in October and on an annualized basis, CPI was up 1.1% after a 3.7% increase in October.  Other data saw November housing starts fall 18.9% while November new building permits were off 15.6%.  In eurozone news, the German government reported gross domestic product could decline 3% in 2009.  Chancellor Merkel warned the current round of fiscal stimulus may not be successful in improving the economy.  European Central Bank President Trichet said the ECB may reduce the rate in pays on overnight deposits in an attempt to stimulate interbank lending and put downward pressure on interbank lending rates.  Trichet stopped short of saying the ECB would cut rates next month, saying “I said we consider at this stage it's important that we ensure that the 175 basis point decrease ... is effective in going through various channels into the real economy.  We have to concentrate on getting what we have already decided operational.”  Data released in the eurozone today saw employment fall for the first time on a quarterly basis between July and September, off 0.1%.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2135 level.




¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥89.70 level and was capped around the ¥90.75 level.  Bank of Japan Governor Shirakawa testified in Parliament today and said “appropriate actions” are needed in the wake of increasingly “severe” economic conditions.  Most traders do not expect BoJ’s Policy Board will take the overnight call rate lower at its meeting on Thursday but Shirakawa did stress the need to make corporate funding conditions easier, a clue that additional monetary provisions may be implemented this week.  Shirakawa cited slower exports, corporate profits, household finances, and worsening jobs conditions.  He added “When economic and financial conditions are severe, there is not necessarily a clear line dividing liquidity and credit risks. In that sense, we are not totally ruling out taking on (credit) risks.”  Finance minister Nakagawa pressured the BoJ to do more to assist the economy, saying “I'm hoping the Bank of Japan will spend two days pondering the current economic conditions as well as liquidity problems (making it difficult for Japanese companies to raise funds) and make an appropriate conclusion.  Certainly I believe that the BOJ along with the rest of us are taking seriously the results of (the bank's quarterly Tankan survey of business sentiment released Monday) showing the worst reading since the oil shocks.”  Data released in Japan today saw October wages upwardly revised to +0.1% y/y.  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 1.12% to close at ¥8,568.02.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.15 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥122.55 level and was capped around the ¥124.45 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥136.80 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥77.65 level.  In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou dovishly said “there will be more pressure for interest rate cuts from now until early next year.  It'll be cut gradually because the CPI is falling, and sometimes has fallen more than we expected.”  Data released in China today saw January – November urban investment up 26.8% y/y.

The British pound appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.5380 level and was supported around the $1.5205 level.  Bank of England Governor King said the outlook for the U.K. economy has worsened in recent weeks and said there is a significant risk that inflation could fall below 1% in 2009.  Data released in the U.K. today saw November inflation fall to 4.1% y/y from 4.5% in October, still significantly above the Bank of England’s 2.0% inflation target.  King was again forced to write a letter explaining why inflation was above target and indicated a cut in the sales tax, falling commodity prices, and a weak economy may prod inflation acutely lower soon.  Many economists believe the U.K. will experience deflationary pressures for several months in 2009.  Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.5720 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.9020 level and was supported around the ₤0.8885 level.


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