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Monday February 28, 2005 - 15:58:12 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (28 February 2005)

The euro eked out marginal gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3280 level and was supported around the $1.3235 level. Australasian dealers lifted the common currency higher but the pair was pressured during European dealing. Data released in the eurozone today saw the January EMU-12 harmonized index of consumer prices rose a final 1.9% y/y, down from the initial estimate of a 2.1% gain and lower than the 2.4% y/y rise in December. These data are likely to remove some of the renewed yet marginal pressure on the European Central Bank to tighten monetary policy. Other data released in the eurozone today saw German wholesale sales rise 3.2% m/m in January and 2.4% y/y. The February eurozone economic sentiment indicator printed at 98.9, down from a revised 100.8 in January, while the February business climate indicator fell to 0.20 from 0.40 in January. These EMU-12 indicators suggest the eurozone will register dampened economic growth in Q1 and possibly Q2. The first half of the week is laden with many economic data releases and events including testimony from Fed Chairman Greenspan on Wednesday. Data released in the U.S. today saw January personal income fall 2.3%, the largest decline in eleven years and a reversal of December’s monstrous 3.7% gain that was attributable to Microsoft’s dividend payment. Personal spending was unchanged while the personal consumption expenditure price index – the Fed’s preferred yardstick for consumer inflation – indicated consumer prices rose 0.2% last month while the core PCE price index was up 0.3%, the largest gain since October 2001. These data suggest there are inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy that are heating up and will placed added emphasis on remarks from Fed policymakers this week. Data released later in the U.S. session saw the February Chicago PMI beat expectations with a 62.7 print while new home sales were off 9.2% to 1.106 million units last month. All eyes will of course be on this Friday’s U.S. February non-farm payrolls number. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3215 level.


The yen galloped higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥104.10 level after moving through technical support around the ¥104.25 level during early North American dealing. The pair was capped around the ¥105.30 level during Australasian dealing in largely one-way trade. Positive economic news out of Japan overnight prompted the yen’s advances. Industrial production rose 2.1% m/m in January, exceeding forecasts, while retail sales climbed 2.2% y/y last month. Also, housing starts gained 6.9% in January, the sixth increase in seven months. Collectively, these data have many traders believing the economy may have bottomed out, hence the strong move into yen. Bank of Japan Governor Fukui added to the yen’s gains overnight when he said he sees a “lower risk of the economy falling into a serious recession” despite “softer economic indicators such as GDP data and the coincident index.” Fukui acknowledge the economy’s “soft patches” but added it will “move toward sustained growth” and said there are no current plans to unwind the BoJ’s long-standing “quantitative” monetary easing policy. He also said the central bank will “need to reconsider” its daily liquidity target for current account balances after April when the federal guarantee on banking deposits is lifted. Speaking about the markets, Fukui said the BoJ will “keep a close eye on foreign exchange movements” and added “spikes in oil prices” could indirectly affect Japan in a negative manner. The MoF reported it did not intervene in the FX market between 28 January and 24 February, a far cry from one year ago when Japan spent ¥14.83 trillion between January and March to curtail the yen’s advances. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.71% to close at ¥11,740.60. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.75 level. The euro moved sharply lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.00 figure after failing to get above the ¥139.40 level. Stops were hit below the ¥138.65 level, pushing the cross to intraday lows. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China reported foreign capital inflows added RMB 1.6 trillion to China’s money supply last year, RMB 463.9 billion more than 2003. PBOC has had difficulty managing this excess liquidity in the money supply and this adds to the pressure to revalue its yuan currency. On that note, a government think tank today proposed that China should widen the yuan’s trading band by up to 5% to ease pressure on the currency and broaden the basket of pegged currencies beyond the U.S. dollar. In another report, the government reported 2004 GDP growth was unrevised at 9.5% and some Chinese financial institutions released reports saying the economy is expecting to grow 8.5% to 9.3% in 2005.

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9250 level, its highest level since the last day of 2004. Stops were hit above the $1.9195 level after the market rallied from the $1.9155 level during early Australasian dealing. Technically, sterling has now retraced more than 61.8% of its December – February range and today’s low coincided with the 61.8% retracement level, signifying a sizable portion of the U.S. dollar correction has now been retraced. Data released in the U.K. today saw the February consumer confidence index recede to 0 from +1 in January but was stronger than many forecasts. Cable bids are seen around the $1.9155 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6885 level and was capped around the ₤0.6905 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1580 level and appeared poised to challenge multi-week lows below the CHF 1.1570 level. Swiss PMI data will be released tomorrow followed up by GDP and CPI data on Thursday. The euro depreciated modestly vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5370 level while the British pound was up marginally and tested offers around the CHF 2.2360 level.


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