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Thursday March 5, 2009 - 16:48:09 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (5 March 2009)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2480 level and was capped around the $1.2665 level.   As expected, the European Central Bank voted to decrease its main refinancing rate target by 50bps to 1.50% from 2.00%, the lowest level in the ECB’s ten-year history.  At the same time, the ECB released a grim set of economic forecasts.  The ECB now sees inflation remaining below the ECB’s target for the next eighteen months and this suggests more rate cuts will follow.  There is also a significant chance the ECB will have to follow the Fed’s and BoE’s lead by conducting massive asset-purchasing programs to steer market rates towards 0%.  One major difficulty the ECB will face is the lack of a single eurozone-wide bond market.  ECB policymakers who will conduct the probable massive credit easing or quantitative easing operation must decide which countries’ assets to purchase in the primary and secondary markets, a decision that will invariably lead to criticism.  Some eurozone countries have recently had their credit ratings downgraded and this will render the ECB’s operations that much more difficult.  ECB President Trichet today report EMU-16 gross domestic product may contract in 2010.  Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-15 gross domestic product tumble 1.5% q/q and 1.3% y/y.  Additionally, French January producer price inflation was off 2.0% m/m and 2.7% y/y.  Moreover, German January retail sales fell 0.6% m/m and 1.3% y/y. In U.S. news, data released in the U.S. today saw weekly initial jobless claims decline 31,000 to 639,000 last week while continuing jobless claims were off 14,000 to 5.106 million.  All eyes will be focused on tomorrow’s U.S. February non-farm payrolls report with most economists preparing for a very weak report, especially after ADP reported 697,000 private sector job losses last month.  Other data released today saw Q4 non-farm productivity off 0.4% from +2.2% in Q3 while unit labour costs grew 5.7% from 3.5% in Q3.  Nonetheless, productivity had its best annual result in four years last year.  The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book yesterday and it indicated the economic contraction worsened in January and March with no improvement expected in the short-term.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2385 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥98.40 level and was capped around the ¥99.65 level.  Data released in Japan overnight saw business investment off 17.3% y/y in Q4 2008, the seventh consecutive quarterly decline.  These data will likely cause a downward revision to Q4 gross domestic product data that recently evidenced a provisional 12.7% annualized contraction.  Revised GDP data will be released on 12 March.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.95% to close at ¥7,433.49.  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 ¥123.00 figure and was capped around the ¥125.75 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥138.55 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥83.35 level.  The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8409 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 6.8434.  Traders are speculating the Chinese government will announced an additional stimulus plan to maintain at least an 8% growth rate in 2009.

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.4035 level and was capped around the $1.4230 level.  As expected, Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee reduced its key interest rate by 50bps to 0.50%.  More importantly, however, Bank of England reported the U.K. Treasury will permit the central bank to purchase up to ₤150 billion in assets to grow the money supply.  Chancellor of the Exchequer Darling indicated at least ₤50 billion must be utilized to purchase private-sector assets.  This amounts to a de facto quantitative easing policy and the BoE will purchase up to ₤75 billion in gilts over the next three months.  Notably, Darling also said the government won’t use the BoE’s operations as an excuse to issue more debt and make long-term financing needs less manageable.  Data released in the U.K. today saw Halifax January house prices declined 2.3% m/m and 17.7% y/y.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.3740 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.8850 level and was capped around the ₤0.8940 level.


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