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Wednesday January 6, 2010 - 23:51:58 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (6 January 2010)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar on Thursday as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.4435 level and was supported around the $1.4280 level.  Traders raced into the common currency and other higher-yielding currencies on an improvement in U.S. economic data, a trade that was popular in 2009 before profit-taking ensued at the end of the year.  Data released in the U.S. today saw MBA mortgage applications reverse course and climb 0.5%, an improvement from the -22.8% decline during the previous reporting period.  Also, the ADP December employment report showed 84,000 private sector jobs were lost last month, down from a revised 145,000 the previous month and the lowest loss since March 2008.  These data suggest Friday’s all-important December non-farm payrolls report could evidence an improvement from November’s total.  Some private economists are beginning to estimate margin jobs growth in Q1 2010 while others believe the unemployment rate will tick higer a few tenths of a per cent before moderating below the 10.0% level.  These data were tempered by moderate gains in the December ISM non-manufacturing index that printed at 50.1, up from 48.7 in November but below expectations. An important sub-index saw the employment picture improve to 44.0% in December from 41.6% in November.   Perhaps the big news in the U.S. today involved the release of the Federal Open Market Committee’s minutes from the 15-16 December meeting.  Some policymakers saw “quite elevated” economic slack while others noted the risk of heightened inflation from the Fed’s “extraordinary” stimulus.  Overall, policymakers “agreed that monetary policy would need to be responsive to any significant improvement or worsening in the economic outlook and that the Federal Reserve would need to continue to clearly communicate its ability and intent to begin withdrawing monetary policy accommodation at the appropriate time and place.”  Many Fed lending programs are scheduled to run off on 1 February, as scheduled, on account of “improvements in the functioning of financial markets.” Some policymakers, however, warned that it might become necessary to expand the planned scale of Fed’s asset purchase program.  The Fed also detailed some additional plans regarding its reverse repo operations.  In eurozone news, European Central Bank member Stark made news today when he indicated no eurozone member would bail Greece out of its fiscal problems.  Most dealers believe European policymakers will not allow Greece to default on its massive debt and believe the ECB is likely to continue accepting Greek debt for collateral operations. Data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-16 services sector improve to 53.6 in December from 53.0 in November.  EMU-16 October new industrial orders declined for the first time in seven months, off 2.2% m/m and 14.5% y/y, while EMU-16 producer prices were up 0.1% m/m and off 4.4% y/y.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3885 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥92.75 level and was supported around the ¥91.50 level.  Technically, the pair has retraced 76.4% of its intraweek range.  The big news in Japan overnight was the resignation of finance minister Fujii.  Deputy Prime Minister Kan is replacing Fujii and traders are trying to determine what impact this will have on the yen, if any.  Notably, Fujii had resisted some calls from senior government policymakers to expand new Japanese government bond issuance, a resistance that could have precipitated his “health-related” departure.  Fujii was also in the spotlight shortly after Prime Minister Hatoyama assumed power on account of conflicting comments he made about the yen’s value.  Some traders believe Kan will champion a weaker yen policy.  Improvements in U.S. economic data also led to a weaker yen as demand grew for assets in higher-yielding currencies.  Notably, Japan’s GDP is estimated to reach 246% of gross domestic product in 2010, compared to about 108% for the U.S. and 89% for Germany.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 2.59% to close at ¥10,731.45.  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 ¥133.25 level and was supported around the ¥131.25 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥148.45 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥90.10 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8274 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8272.  People’s Bank of China reported it will support “relatively fast” economic growth and manage inflation expectations.  Additionally, PBoC noted it will target “modetate” loan growth in 2010.  Top banking regulator Lui Mingkang this week noted that “structural bubbles threaten to emerge.”  The State Administration of Foreign Exchange today noted it will improve the management of its foreign currency reserves.

The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.6060 level and was supported around the $1.5935 level.  The REC December job placements survey indicated job placements rose at their fastest pace in 2.5 years while BRC noted December shop prices accelerated on rising costs and a weaker pound.  Also, the Nationwide December consumer confidence index fell to +69, signaling weaker confidence.  Prime Minister Brown, who must call an election by June, is under fire from his own Labour party.  Some members of Labour are questioning Brown’s leadership heading into the general election.  Tory leader David Cameron is expected to prevail at the election.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5925 level.  The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.9010 level and was supported around the ₤0.8925 level.


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