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Monday February 21, 2005 - 13:38:03 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (21 February 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3030 level and was capped around the $1.3075 level. The $1.3085 level has capped the common currency for three consecutive sessions and chartists are waiting to see if the $1.3015 and $1.2955 levels hold and become constructive for the pair. U.S. financial markets are in a holiday mode today but traders will closely be watching the Federal Open Market Committee’s policymaking minutes on Wednesday to see how hawkish Fed policymakers were at the beginning of the month. Economists also expect an upward revision to Q4 U.S. GDP on Friday and, coupled with last week’s robust PPI data, major emphasis will be on this week’s core CPI data in the U.S. Higher retail inflation costs may cause Fed policymakers to become more hawkish and aggressive in raising rates. Cleveland Fed President Pianalto spoke in Milan today and said the Fed has been “fairly successful” in achieving price stability without an inflation target. Pianalto also said central banks needs to pay close attention “to the effects of energy price shocks on the economy.” Data released in the eurozone today saw Italian final January CPI unchanged m/m and up 1.9% y/y. ECB policymaker Quaden today said eurozone interest must rise but said “current prospects for inflation and growth” mean the time is not yet right for higher rates. Similarly, ECB policymaker Wellink said he sees no current inflation threat in the eurozone but added the central bank will react “in due time” to monetary conditions. Germany’s Bundesbank released a report today that concludes there is “no reason for pessimism” about German growth prospects for 2005 and added private consumption rose marginally in Q4. The Bundesbank also cited a “significant risk” that Germany’s budget deficit will exceed 3% in 2005 and said the ECB’s current monetary policy is “expansive” and noted price stability risk have recently moved higher. Options traders cite a large $1.3100 strike that will roll off at 1500 GMT today. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3030 level and euro offers are cited around the $1.3085 level above which stops are seen.


The yen gained a small amount of ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥105.45 level during early North American dealing. Stops were reached below the ¥105.65 level during European dealing and pushed the pair to a daily low. The dollar had a difficult time around the ¥105.80 level overnight, failing three times to test offers above that area. Technically, the pair is trading right around an important 38.2% retracement level related to its ¥111.70/ 101.70 range. Data released in Japan today saw its two-way trade with China escalate 26.9% in 2004 to US$ 168 billion, a record for the sixth consecutive year. These data follow last month’s data that showed China has surpassed the U.S. as Japan’s largest trading partner and it is estimated that trade between the two countries will eclipse $190 billion this year. Other data released overnight saw January convenience store sales off 1.7% y/y, the twentieth decline in 23 months. Economy minister Tanigaki today said Japan’s economy will improve in 2005 of firmer exports and recovering consumption, citing an improving Japanese employment scenario. Data released last Wednesday saw the economy recede 0.1% in the three months to December but many economists believe this economic downturn will be mild. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.08% to close at ¥11,651.02. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥105.25 level while dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.85 level. The euro lost ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥137.70 level and was capped around the ¥138.20 level. In Chinese news, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown will raise his international profile by heading to China to discuss business and trade matters. Data released in China today saw January fixed direct investment up 10.72% y/y while industrial prices, ex-factories were up 5.8% y/y last month. People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou was quoted today as saying the central bank will maintain the stability of the yuan and China’s financial systems. In one sign that China is liberalizing its foreign exchange regime, it was announced today that the government will permit domestic companies to hold their foreign exchange holdings earned from exports for up to 90 days.

The British pound was little changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today after stopping just short of testing the psychologically-important US$ 1.9000 figure for the first time since early January. Traders shied away from the big figure, however, and sterling quickly moved back to the $1.8935 level. Australasian names tested cable bids around the $1.8905 level overnight and found decent support there. U.K. property website Rightmove released a report overnight that suggested U.K. real estate asking prices were up 2.3% this month, bucking the recent trend. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will be a busy week for the pound with Bank of England minutes, CBI reports, BBA mortgage lending, and Q4 GDP data released. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8925 level while cable offers are seen around the $1.9000/20 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6900 figure but later receded to the ₤0.6785 level. Euro offers are seen around the ₤0.6910 level.


The Swiss franc erased most of its losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1860 level but quickly fell to the CHF 1.1805 level. Some chartists believe the dollar will weaken further and test technical support around the CHF 1.1770 level. Swiss trade data will be released tomorrow and Swiss National Bank President Roth is also scheduled to speak tomorrow. Swiss employment data and the KOF leading indicator will be released on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1885 level while dollar bids are seen around the CHF 1.1655 level. The euro came off modestly vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5435 level while the British pound gained marginal ground and tested offers around the CHF 2.2470 level.


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