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Friday December 25, 2009 - 15:34:16 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (25 December 2009)

The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.4440 level and was supported around the $1.4320 level.  Liquidity was nil to non-existent after Asian trading ended on account of the Christmas Day holiday.  Dealers expect liquidity to be muted on Monday as well as the markets celebrate Boxing Day in some trading centers.  On a year-to-date basis, the common currency has appreciated about five big figures.  Traders lifted the common currency yesterday after Greece approved a plan to reduce its budget deficit.  Greece’s move allayed some recent sovereign credit concerns that had been mounting in recent weeks and impacting the common currency negatively.  Greece plans to reduce its budget deficit in 2010 to a level equal to 9.1% of gross domestic product, a move that may prevent the deficit from exceeding 12% of GDP.  Nonetheless, Greece’s budget deficit will remain more than three times above the permissible limits of the European Union.  European Central Bank member Wellink said the eurozone’s economic recovery remains fragile and said the euro’s strong level is negatively impacting Dutch exports.  It is likely other policymakers will assail the euro’s relative strength if it persists in the New Year.  Data released in the eurozone yesterday saw the CEPR Eurocoin activity indicator rise to 0.68 in December, the highest level in two years and an indication of a further increase in consumer and business confidence.  In U.S. news, data released in the U.S. yesterday saw November durable goods orders climb 0.2%, up from the October reading of -0.6%, while the ex-transportation component exceeded expectations at +2.0%, above the upwardly revised October reading of -0.7%.  Also, weekly initial jobless claims fell to 452,000 from 480,000 and continuing jobless claims slumped to 5.076 million from a revised 5.203 million.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3885 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥91.15 level and was supported around the ¥91.75 level.  Many data were released in Japan overnight.  First, November construction orders were off 11.6% y/y to ¥708.7 billion.  Second, November housing starts were off 19.1% y/y.  Third, November housing spending was up 1.6% m/m and +2.2% y/y.  Fourth, the jobless rate ticked higher to 5.2% from 5.1% in October.  Fifth, the nationwide November consumer price index was off 0.2% m/m and 1.7% y/y at the core level, underscoring the ongoing deflationary pressures evident in the Japanese economy.  Tokyo-area core consumer price inflation was off 0.2% m/m and 1.9% y/y.  Sixth, the trade deficit was off 92.0% y/y to ¥33.52 billion in the first ten days of the month.  Finance minister Fujii reported Japan has “depleted most” of its special account funds and added it is difficult to compile a budget for fiscal year 2010.  Fujii added monetary policy has been helpful in boosting the economy and that capital spending remains the worst part of the economy.  Japanese government bonds sales are expected to reach a record ¥144.3 trillion.  Minutes from Bank of Japan’s latest Policy Board meeting were released yesterday in which the government asked the central bank to monitor deflation.  The minutes revealed “many” Policy Board members agreed “the bank would maintain its stance of responding promptly to changes in the market situation.”  Policymakers said the central bank “would adopt the most effective method for money-market operations that conformed to changes in financial markets.”  After an emergency meeting on 1 December, the central bank introduced a ¥10 trillion fixed-rate lending facility that was designed to arrest the yen’s advances and counter deflation.  The central bank also characterized the most recent bout of deflation as “mild.”  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.40% to close at ¥10,494.71.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥94.75 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥131.75 level and was supported around the ¥131.25 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥145.65 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥88.05 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar depreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8271 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 6.8294.  The government today reported it is likely to upwardly revised GDP growth rates for Q1, Q2, and Q3 2009.  The government also upwardly revised its 2008 growth rate to 9.6% from 9.0%.  People’s Bank of China this week reaffirmed its plans to maintain a “moderately loose” policy stance in 2010 and to restrict credit for industries that have excess capacity.  PBoC also asked Chinese banks to improve management of interest rates risks.  China appears poised to register economic growth of 8% this year. Monetary policy adjustments are expected in 2010 to slow the pace of economic growth and inflationary pressures.  People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou this week reported reserve ratios are an important policymaking tool and there is widespread speculation the central bank will lift reserve requirements for banks when policy is tightened further.   

The British pound depreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.5925 level and was capped around the $1.6025 level. Sterling liquidity was mostly non-existent with European and North American markets closed for the Christmas Day holiday.  Cable is now up about thirteen big figures on a year-to-date basis.  Many traders believe Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will keep monetary policy unchanged until at least February when fourth quarter gross domestic product data are available along with the latest quarterly inflation forecast.  BBA yesterday this week that net mortgage lending by U.K. banks increased ₤3.3 billion in November, up from a ₤3.2 billion rise in October.  Demand for consumer credit weakened last month as ₤300 million was repaid by borrowers, up from ₤200 million in October.  BBA also reported that mortgage approvals rose to a two-year high of 44,713 in November.  Minutes from Bank of England’s 9-10 December Monetary Policy Committee meeting were released this week in which policymakers unanimously voted to keep the BoE’s asset purchase facility unchanged at ₤200 billion and its main Bank Rate unchanged at a record-low of 0.5%.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5755 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as cable tested offers around the ₤0.9015 level and was supported around the ₤0.8985 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0340 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0380 level.  The franc has appreciated about four big figures year-to-date despite attempts by Swiss monetary authorities to halt its rise in an attempt to support the Swiss export-dependent economy.  There remains ongoing talk the Swiss National Bank is conducting franc-selling intervention.  Swiss National Bank released its quarterly report on Monday and said it would be “premature” to begin raising borrowing costs, noting there are “downside risks” to the inflation outlook.”  Trying to provide a balanced outlook, however, SNB reported “expansionary monetary policy cannot be maintained indefinitely.” On 10 December, SNB voted to keep its benchmark rate unchanged at 0.25% and noted it will end its corporate bond purchases as a first step to withdraw its emergency measures.  On Monday, SNB reported it will “continue to act decisively to prevent any excessive appreciation.”  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0615 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.4890 level while the British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.6460 level.


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