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Thursday January 22, 2009 - 20:06:01 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (22 January 2009)

The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2905 level and was capped around the $1.3085 level.  The common currency moved lower after it was reported the European Central Bank may need to downwardly revise its current economic forecasts.  In December ECB staff members released a forecast the eurozone economy may shrink as much as 1% this year.  Germany reported it will not establish a “bad bank” where it can nationalize bad bank debt.  In contrast, the German media reported the government is working on a new rescue plan where it troubled banks can remove hundreds of billions of euro in bad assets from their balance sheets.  Bank of France reported it expects negative inflation in the eurozone and U.S. for one or more months this year, but stopped shorting of characterizing this as deflation.  Data released in the eurozone today saw November industrial orders register a record decline.  ECB member Tumpel-Gugerell reported “We are aware that the crisis is far from over, we are aware that the effects on the real economy have only started to be felt and we also are aware that there are substantial differences between euro area countries.” IMF reduced its 2009 German GDP forecast to -2.5% from -0.8%. In U.S. news, weekly initial jobless claims increased 589,000 from 527,000 the previous week, the highest level since 1982.  Also, December housing starts were off 15.5% to an annualized rate of 550,000 units.  This represented the largest percent decline since January 2007.  Similarly, December new building permits fell 10.7% to 549,000.  In 2008, housing starts and permits fell 33.3% and 36.2%, respectively.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2475 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥88.05 level and was capped around the ¥89.55 level. As expected, government and Bank of Japan officials ratcheted up the verbal intervention overnight.  BoJ Governor Shirakawa warned “I don't like to comment on the background behind currency rate trends. I'll refrain from commenting, given any effects it might cause. I'm always closely watching effects from a rise in the yen and fluctuations in currency rates. That's the conclusion. A strong yen will have big impact on Japanese exporters in the near term, which has been one factor behind a worsening of the underlying economy. Looking at the medium to long term on the other hand, a strong yen will bring about other effects. Until last summer, everyone was talking about a deteriorating economy caused by a worsening of terms of trade due to a rise in crude oil prices. A strong yen has effects that somewhat improve terms of trade, and such effects will materialize in the long run. It also has positive impacts on Japanese firms' profits when they carry out various mergers and acquisitions and direct investment overseas. As to how the short-term downside factors and positive effects (from a strong yen) will play out, I'll keep a close watch, as the economy won't be determined by currencies alone but also by overall economic conditions.”  BoJ’s Policy Board kept the overnight call rate unchanged at 0.10% and announced it will purchase corporate bonds and accept Real Estate Investment Trust debt as collateral to ease funding strains.  The central bank made it clear it will assume new credit risks to try and limit economic damage. BOJ also warned core consumer prices will fall 1.1% in the year through March 2010 and 0.4% in the year to March 2011.  The central bank also sees the economy contracting 1.8% in the current fiscal year to March and 2.0% in the year to March 2010.  MoF chief Nakagawa reported “Rapid moves are not good, so I am watching the moves carefully. I should not comment on it. But we should always be thinking about doing what may be necessary.”  Data released in Japan overnight saw December exports plunge a record 35% y/y.  Government officials verbally intervened against the yen en masse.  MoF’s Sugimoto reported “Excessive volatility in the currency market could have a negative impact to the economy; therefore, it is not desirable.”  The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.90% to close at ¥8,051.74.  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 ¥113.95 level and was capped around the ¥116.80 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥121.10 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥76.15 level.  In Chinese news, U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Geithner said China is manipulating the yuan currency and called for heavy engagement with China. He added a “strong dollar” is in America’s interest.  Data released in China today saw 2008 GDP growth of 9.0% and Q4 GDP growth slowed to 6.8% y/y. Also, December industrial output was up 5.7% and December retail sales were up 19% y/y.


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