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Tuesday February 15, 2005 - 16:31:56 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (15 February 2005)

The euro failed to sustain gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3050 level but quickly receded to the $1.2960 level. The spike higher during North American dealing followed the release of December Treasury International Capital (TIC) that saw overseas investors reduce their purchases of U.S. equities and debt. Foreign long-term net capital flows into the U.S. fell to US$ 61.3 billion in December from a revised US$ 89.3 billion in November. Notably, foreigners purchases US$ 8.4 billion of Treasury notes and bonds, down from US$ 32.8 billion in November, while foreign central banks sharply lowered their purchases of Treasury notes and bonds to US$ 7.0 billion from US$ 21.0 billion in November. Even though the TIC data were sharply lower, they edged out expectations and were sufficient enough for the U.S. to cover its current account and trade deficits this month. This topic has been on the radar screens of traders for months but increasingly so ever since Fed Chairman Greenspan was relatively optimistic about the current account deficit in London earlier this month. Greenspan’s congressional testimony tomorrow and Thursday will be closely monitored for references to the current account deficit, possible satisfaction with President Bush’s proposed federal budget, and the likelihood of continued interest rate hikes at a “measured pace.” For all of 2004, foreign net purchases of U.S. securities reached US$ 821.8 billion, up from US$ 683.6 billion in 2003. Other data released in the U.S. today saw January retail sales off 0.3% but were up 0.6% when the 3.3% decline in auto sales is factored out. This represented the largest decline in headline retail sales in give months. On an annualized basis, headline retail sales were up 7.2% while ex-autos were up 7.6%. Additionally, the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s Empire State index of regional manufacturing activity slowed to 19.2 from 20.1. In the eurozone, EMU-12 GDP rose a provisional 0.2% in Q4 and +1.6% y/y, offsetting a 0.2% q/q decline in German GDP in Q4. On a positive note, the German ZEW economic expectations index for February rose 9.0 index points to 35.9 from 26.9 in January. The German GDP contraction could affect the perceived monetary tightening bias the European Central Bank is said to be adopting. Germany is very close to being in a technical economic recession and it is noteworthy that Germany’s economy has only expanded in seven of the previous eighteen quarters. The European Commission said EMU-12 economic growth in Q4 was “less positive” than hoped. ECB’s Noyer was slightly hawkish in comments today saying “accommodative monetary policies around the world will have to be adjusted, even if it is at a moderate pace, in order to avoid the risk of inflationary pressures building up” but added the ECB expects inflation to fall below the ceiling limit of 2.0% in the coming months. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2935/ 1.2890 levels.


The yen gained modest ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥104.55 level and was capped around the ¥105.35 level during Australasian dealing. Stops were reached below the ¥104.80 level during early North American dealing but traders soon lifted the pair back to the ¥104.90 level, above a reported ¥104.75 expiry said to come off at 1500 GMT along with other strikes at ¥104.55 and ¥103.50. Bank of Japan Governor Fukui spoke today and reiterated his central bank will maintain its ultra-accommodative monetary policy at least until core CPI reaches zero per cent. On the geopolitical front, some Asian media outlets are reporting North Korea has developed a new missile with a greater range and capable of targeting South Korea with increased precision. Data released in Japan today saw January machine tool orders fall a revised 8.1% m/m to ¥107.3 billion while the annualized rate was up a revised 30.4%, the 28th consecutive monthly increase. Other data released today saw Tokyo January department store sales rise 0.7% y/y, the second rise in 38 months, while January bankruptcies were off 13.4% y/y and January corporate failures were down 13.8% y/y. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.12% to close at ¥11,646.49. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥104.65 level while dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.35 level. The euro lost ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.95 level and tested offers around the ¥136.55 level. Euro offers are cited around the ¥136.65/ ¥137.00 levels.

The British pound failed to sustain gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8960 level but came off to the $1.8830 level during North American dealing. The spike to intraday highs was precipitated by the relatively weak TIC data but it failed to hold. Data released in the U.K. today saw January CPI at 1.6%, above forecasts and equal to December’s level. Bank of England will release its quarterly inflation report tomorrow at 1030 GMT tomorrow. Also, the RPIX inflation indicator receded to 2.1% from 2.5%. Other data released today saw RICS January house prices fall last month but the RICS also reported newly-agreed house sales moved higher for the first time in nine months. Cable bids are cited around US$1.8840 level. The euro was little changed vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6885 level and was supported around the ₤0.6865 level.


The Swiss franc gained modest ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1875 level and was capped right around the CHF 1.2000 figure. Stops were reached below the CHF 1.1930 level after the TIC data were released but the pair quickly reclaimed the CHF 1.1960 level. The move to intraday lows coincided with technical support related to the CHF 1.2850/ CHF 1.1300 range. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.2010 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the 1.5495 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5545 level.


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