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Friday February 20, 2009 - 15:09:18 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 February 2009)

The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2565 level and was capped around the $1.2690 level.  Global financial markets had a painful day today as credit default swap spreads blew out significantly and bank nationalization jitters grew.  European Union official Alumnia reported “We are facing a very serious, difficult economic situation in all of our countries.”  Eastern European banks are facing very serious problems and their Western European subsidiaries are attempting to recapitalize them to stave off additional problems.  European Central Bank President Trichet reported “There are several signs that inflation is edging towards the ECB's medium term price stability objective.”  Most dealers expect the ECB will reduce interest rates further by 50bps in March to 1.5%.  German legislators gave the final approval for a €50 billion fiscal stimulus for 2009-2010.  EMU-16 manufacturing PMI fell to 33.6 while services PMI fell to 38.9.  The downward pressure in the manufacturing sector will increase pressure on the ECB to lower rates soon.  Other data saw French February business sentiment fall to 68 while French January CPI was off 0.4% m/m and up +0.7% y/y.  The German government reported the country is in “pronounced recession.”  Officials added “The deterioration of conditions and expectations in the manufacturing sector as well as the weak sentiment of companies - despite a slight improvement - hint that the recession will likely last.  Export activities of German companies are very hard hit by the world economy's cooling down.”  The German government is forecasting its economy will shrink 2.25% in 2009.  In U.S. news, the January core consumer price index was up 0.3% m/m and 1.7% y/y.   Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke was quoted as saying he wants to avoid the nationalization of banks while former Chairman Greenspan said nationalization may be the least of all evils.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2475 level.


¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥94.40 level and was supported around the ¥93.55 level.  The yen was mixed across the board as traders grappled with volatility that remains at or near unprecedented levels.  It was a generally bad week for the Aso administration which saw finance minister Nakagawa resign due to an embarrassing Group of Seven gaffe and Aso’s own favourable ratings fall below 10%.  The Japanese government is said to be considering a ¥20 trillion stimulus that would amount to its fourth fiscal supplement since August.  The government yesterday used its harshest language in decades to describe the Japanese economy.  Most traders expect Bank of Japan will expand its asset purchases to try and keep a lid on market interest rates and stimulate bank lending and the economy.  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 1.87% to close at ¥7,416.38.  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 ¥117.90 level and was capped around the ¥119.40 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥135.20 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥78.90 level.  The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8367 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8348. 

The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.4150 level and was capped around the $1.4370 level.  Traders were surprised by U.K. economic data that saw January retail sales climb 0.7% m/m and 3.6% y/y.  It was also reported that U.K. home repossessions surged to a twelve-year high in 2008.  Outgoing Bank of England Deputy Governor Gieve said it is possible the U.K. economy could experience a ten-year depression.  He added he expects BoE to start expanding the money supply in the coming weeks and purchase securities through its Asset Purchase Facility.  Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.4860 level.  The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.8795 level and was capped around the ₤0.8895 level.


The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1885 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1720 level.  The franc was weaker today on news that UBS provided the U.S. government with information on thousands of investors who may have evaded their income U.S. taxes by investing in complex structures designed by UBS.  U.S. dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.1555 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 1.4990 level while the British pound strengthened vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 1.7030 level. 


The Australian dollar came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$ 0.6355 level and was capped around the US$ 0.6480 level.  Technically, this week’s intraweek low was right around the 76.4% retracement of the move from $0.6060 to $0.7265.  Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6715 level.


The Canadian dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the US$ 1.2650 level and was supported around the $1.2535 level.  Data released in Canada overnight saw January consumer prices climb to -0.3% m/m and 1.1% y/y.  U.S. dollar bids are cited around the C$ 1.2400 figure.


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