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Thursday February 12, 2009 - 22:02:50 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (12 February 2009)

The euro came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2720 level and was capped around the $1.2945 level.  Data released in the U.S. today saw January headline retail sales escalate 1.0%, the first improvement in seven months, after declining for seven consecutive months.  Retail sales were off 9.7% from the previous year and some economists believe the increase in January activity may have reflected deep discounts at retailers.  Excluding autos and automobile parts, retail sales were up 0.9% from a revised record 3.2% pullback in December, representing the largest gain since May 2008.  Other data released today saw weekly initial jobless claims off 8,000 to 623,000 last week.  Other data released today saw December business inventories off 1.3%, the largest decline since October 2001, while business sales were off 3.2% in December.  Moreover, it was reported that prices of single-family homes in Q4 fell 12.4% y/y to their lowest levels since 2003.  U.S. legislators were poised today to pass a US$ 789 billion stimulus package to reverse the current economic recession.  Wall Street Journal reported the Federal Reserve is very cautiously considering when it can begin to pay the long end of the Treasury curve.  In eurozone news, European Central Bank President Liikanen warned “Economic data show that we have moved to a longer period of weak economic development. The economic crisis seems to be lasting longer and spreading.”  ECB Vice President Papademos added “I do not see a dependence, or necessary sequence, between the level or path of policy rates and the possible adoption of 'non-standard' measures aimed at improving the functioning of markets and preserving the stability of the banking system. It cannot be excluded that euro area inflation may reach a level close to zero for a short period of time. “A further easing of monetary policy may be appropriate in order to maintain inflation over the medium term at a level consistent with price stability.”  ECB member Tumpel-Gugerell noted “We have practically doubled our liquidity measures, and of course are thinking about what we can do.” Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-15 December industrial production fall 2.6% m/m and 12.0% y/y, the sharpest declines since at least 1990.  EMU-15 Q4 GDP data will be released tomorrow.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2475 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥90.70 level and was supported around the ¥89.80 level.  Data released in Japan overnight saw January annualized wholesale inflation print below 0% for the first time since December 2003 on account of declining corporate activity.  Wholesale prices were off 0.2% y/y, far below forecasts.  These data suggest the Japanese economy is again experiencing significant deflationary headwinds. This will increase pressure on Bank of Japan to resort to unconventional monetary easing measures, probably including increased asset-backed and government bond purchases.  After experiencing strong deflation for nearly a decade, the central bank is quite sensitive regarding the need to prevent prices from declining too rapidly.  Traders are paying close attention to the Group of Seven meeting in Rome tomorrow and Saturday.  Some dealers believe the Japanese delegation will press their counterparts to warn against the strength of the yen or strongly condemn currency misalignments.  The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 3.03% to close at ¥7,705.36.  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 ¥114.90 level and was capped around the ¥116.65 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥127.10 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥77.05 level.  The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8345 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8332.  Traders are eager to see if China’s currency policy is discussed at this weekend’s Group of Seven meeting in Rome.  Data released in China overnight saw January bank lending up CNY 1.62 trillion, a record pace.  January M2 money supply growth accelerated as well.

 

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