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Monday January 19, 2009 - 16:21:12 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (19 January 2009)

The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3120 level and was capped around the $1.3385 level.  Traders reversed course and moved into U.S. dollar assets on optimism that the incoming Obama administration will be able to implement economic policies that improve the beleaguered U.S. economy.  Also, the European Commission downgraded its GDP growth forecasts for 2009 and 2010 and now sees the eurozone economy contracting 1.9% this year and expanded 0.4% next year, compared with estimated 0.9% growth last year.  The EC’s forecast is more pessimistic than the forecast of the European Central Bank which most recently estimated an economic contraction up to 1% this year.  The EC also sees 2009 annual inflation around 1.0% and that could grow to 1.8% in 2010.  European Central Bank President Trichet today reported “2009 will be very difficult, as I indicated last Thursday. The council of governors considers that world and European growth in 2009 will be substantially lower than the forecasts made at the beginning of December.”  He added “The difficulties are still there, there is not in any circumstance any room for any complacency whatsoever. We must remain permanently ready to act.”  The ECB cut rates by 50bps last Thursday and ECB forecasts are expected to be updated in March.  ECB member Provopoulos today said the “scope for further rate cuts will be limited.” ECB member Nowotny added “The ECB has no interest in interest rates going down to zero.”  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3055 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥90.15 level and was supported around the ¥91.30 level.  Bank of Japan Governor Shirakawa said the central bank’s previous zero per cent interest rate policy supported the economy but had side effects and former BoJ official Okina reported “There is no real positive impact from zero rates, the adverse effect (on money markets) overrides it.”  Most traders believe BoJ’s Policy Board will keep the overnight call rate unchanged at 0.10% this week following last month’s 0.2% reduction.  The central bank is expected to announce additional measures to enhance corporate financing and detail its plans to purchase commercial paper outright from financial institutions.  The central bank may also expand its list of eligible collateral for its lending programs. Shirakawa also indicated the amount of banks’ bad loans to rise above the current estimate of US$ 1.4 trillion.  Data released in Japan today saw revised November industrial output off 8.5% m/m.  The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.32% to close at ¥8,256.85.  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 ¥118.45 level and was capped around the ¥122.15 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥130.45 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥79.55 level.  The Chinese yuan gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8356 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 6.8374.  A Chinese government official said People’s Bank of China does not have much room to reduce interest rates further.  Morgan Stanley lowered its 2009 growth forecast to 5.5%.

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.4450 level and was capped around the $1.4905 level.  Sterling cam off after the U.K. government announced its second major bank assistance facility in three months today.  The government will be able to insure themselves against losses on their riskiest assets and receive guarantees on debt. Additionally, the government will establish a ₤50 billion fund to purchase high-grade private sector securities to facilitate cash flow and jump-start lending through the auspices of Bank of England, beginning on 2 February.  BoE is expected to announce new measures to ease monetary conditions tomorrow.  Many traders believe these new BoE policies will amount to a de facto quantitative easing.  BoE has reduced interest rates 350bps since October.  Data released in the U.K. today saw Rightmove January house pries off 7.3% y/y.  ITEM is now forecasting the U.K. GDP will decline 2.7% this year.  U.K. bids are cited around the US$ 1.4345 level.  The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.9090 level and was supported around the ₤0.8960 level.


CHF

The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1345 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1120 level.  Data released in Switzerland today saw November retail sales fall 1.4% on an inflation-adjusted basis. Swiss National Bank is expected to keep monetary policy ease for the remainder of the year.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1550 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.4925 level while the British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.6340 level.

 

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