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Friday February 25, 2005 - 13:57:49 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (25 February 2005)

The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3215 level, unable to remain above the technically-significant $1.3195 level. The common currency was capped around the $1.3215 level, an even more significant technical area related to the 2004-2005 range. Stops were triggered below the $1.3180 level during European dealing, pushing the pair to intraday lows, and chartists are now eyeing the $1.3085 level as the next significant area of support. Data released in the eurozone today evidenced further acceleration in EMU-12 M3 money supply growth, up 6.6% y/y last month from December’s 6.4% y/y rate. The pace of private-sector loans expanded to 7.3% from 7.0% and the growth rate in mortgage loans expanded to 10.1% from 10.0%. These increases are likely to lead to upward pressure on eurozone interest rates but most European Central Bank watchers believe policymakers will keep rates steady on account of mitigating factors. ECB member Garganas last week said “excess liquidity has not impacted on inflation.” Other data released today saw the German consumer climate index rise to 4.2 points this month from 3.1 points in January. Many French economic data were released today including the February business confidence composite indicator that fell to +104 from +105 in January, while the January unemployment rate climbed to 10.0% from 9.9%. Also, producer prices climbed 0.3% last month after declining 0.4% in December but were up 2.8% y/y in January while January large retail sale prices were off 0.1% m/m and off 0.6% y/y. German data released today saw the February consumer climate index at 4.2 from January’s 3.1 level. Data released in the U.S. today saw preliminary fourth quarter GDP print at 3.8%, upwardly revised from 3.1%. Consumer spending was downwardly revised to +4.2% from 5.1% while the core personal consumption expenditure price index climbed an unrevised 1.6%. These data are likely to affect U.S. productivity data scheduled to be released in a couple of weeks. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3120 level while euro offers are seen around the $1.3215/50 levels.


The yen retraced most of its gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.55 level, a key technical area it has orbited this week, and remained supported just above the ¥105.00 figure. The yen failed to make a strong move because data were released overnight that showed January consumer price inflation fell 0.3% y/y, the most acute decline since May 2004 These data confirm Japan is still ravaged by deflationary pressures and continue to postpone Japan’s eventual unwinding of its long-standing quantitative easing policy. Provisional Tokyo February headline CPI data were also reported down 0.5% y/y while the core rate was off 0.1%, the 65th consecutive monthly decline. Economy Minister Takenaka said deflation remains a problem in Japan and called on Bank of Japan to expand the money supply to ease deflation. Japan’s current deflationary spiral is a major economic problem because consumers delay purchasing decisions, figuring they can acquire goods and services at lower prices in the future. Deflation also raises real interest rates, a drag on an economy that economists note is teetering on the edge of recession again. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.10% to close at ¥11,658.25. Options traders cite a large ¥105.20 strike expiry at 1500 GMT. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥105.60/ ¥106.75 levels. The euro ceded ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.50 level and was capped just below the ¥139.20 level. The cross, however, looks poised to close February by erasing most or all of January’s losses. Euro bids are cited around the ¥138.50/ 40 levels while offers are seen around the ¥139.20/30 levels. In Chinese news, Fitch Ratings Asia cautioned China against necessarily revaluing its yuan currency because it could precipitate a “credit squeeze” and be “detrimental” to Chinese economic growth.

The British pound retraced most of its gains and losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9120 level and was supported around the $1.9060 level. Chartists continue to cite decent support and resistance around the $1.9030 and $1.9150 levels, respectively. Data released in the U.K. today saw Q4 quarterly GDP growth unrevised at 0.7% despite an increase in industrial activity, defying expectations of a +0.8% pick-up. Other data released today John Lewis Partnership sales rise 0.2% to ₤39.5 million last week while BBA mortgage lending data saw mortgage approvals off 6.2% m/m in January and 28% lower y/y. Notably, the number of mortgage approvals for home purchases declined to their lowest level since January 1999. Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Lomax was again quoted today as saying the U.K. economy is not going to be “derailed” but added she has not seen a lot of underlying retail sales growth. In other news, Prime Minister Blair announced a rise in the minimum wage to ₤5.05, effective later this year. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9065/ 20 levels while offers are seen around the $1.9125/ 40 levels. The euro was off marginally vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6885 level and was capped around the ₤0.6915 level. Traders are closely watching developments regarding the Deutsche Bourse’s plans to take over the London Stock Exchange.

The Swiss franc gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1670 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1740 level. Data released in Switzerland today saw the February KOF leading indicators index print at 0.50, down from 0.53 in January and 0.58 in December, but the January and December figures were upwardly revised. Economists believe these data point to a deceleration in negative sentiment but still evidence a likely slowdown in GDP growth in H1 2005. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.1660 level while dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1730 level. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5405 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5440 level.


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