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Tuesday March 1, 2005 - 15:39:57 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (1 March 2005)

The euro retraced most of its intraday losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency moved back to the US$ 1.3200 figure after testing bids around the $1.3170 level. The pair continues to orbit the technically-significant $1.3195 level, an area that represents a 50% retracement of the 2005 U.S. dollar correction. Euro bulls continue to struggle to build a base around the $1.3215 level, the 23.6% retracement level of the 2004-2005 range. Some euro-selling was attributed to yesterday’s decent U.S. economic data, some of which evidenced a pick-up in inflationary pressures. U.S. Treasury yields moved to multi-week or multi-year highs with the 10-year note trading at a 4.30% yield. This broadened the premium and positive interest rate differentials that U.S. assets and U.S. dollars enjoy over other countries and currencies and spurred bids for dollars, a theme that saw the dollar notch gains in January. Generally, however, the markets seem to still be caught between two opposing forces. In one camp, dollar bulls focus on pro-cyclical growth factors that have the U.S. among the global leaders in economic activity, along with positive interest rate differentials. In the other camp, dollar bears continue to focus on the U.S.’s massive budget, trade, and current account deficits – structural imbalances that will not be resolved anytime soon. The unresolved question is whether these themes are diametric opposites, or whether the U.S. economy can sustain these imbalances and continue to be the world’s growth engine. Fed Chairman Greenspan is scheduled to testify tomorrow and may share his current thinking about these issues. Data released in the U.S. today saw January construction spending climb +0.7%, more-than-expected. These data, however, were tempered by a weaker-than-expected February ISM index that printed at 55.3, off from 56.4 in January. In the eurozone, Germany’s unemployment rate escalated to 11.7% in February – a fresh post-World War II high – while the jobless total rose to 5.216 million. Germany continues to be the albatross around the eurozone’s neck, dampening EMU-12 economic growth. Other data released today saw EMU-12 inflation print at 2.0% in February, up from January’s 1.9% level but below expectations of a 2.1% rate. Additionally, EMU-12 PMI printed at 51.9 in February, the same as January’s rate but better-than-expected. German PMI activity fell while French and Italian PMI activity gained ground. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3090/ 70 levels.

The yen extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥104.20 level after Australasian dealers pushed the pair as high as the ¥104.75 level before reversing course. Stops were triggered below the ¥104.45 level in early European dealing. Technically, the pair’s inability to get to the ¥104.85 level – the 50% retracement level of its recent ¥105.60/ ¥104.10 range – is bearish for the short-term and many chartists expect the dollar to test recent support around the ¥103.90/80 level. Data released in Japan overnight saw the January unemployment rate at 4.5%, unchanged from December’s revised rate and a six-year low, while January salaried household spending climbed 2.6% y/y, the first rise in three months. Traders are still talking about Bank of Japan Governor Fukui’s comments yesterday wherein he reiterated Japan’s quantitative easing policy won’t last forever and said Japan will avert a “serious recession.” Economy Minister Takenaka spoke overnight and said today’s unemployment and household spending data are consistent with the government’s views regarding a broad-based economic recovery. Diffusion indices will be released in Japan on Friday. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.34% to close at ¥11,780.53. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.65 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥137.60 level and was capped around the ¥138.40 level. Some chartists believe the cross will recede to the ¥136.30 level. Stops were hit below the ¥138.00 figure.

The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9170 level and was capped around the $1.9225 level. A mixed bag of economic data were released in the U.K. today with CIPS PMI manufacturing unchanged at 51.8 last month, below most forecasts. Also, Nationwide reported U.K. house prices were higher 0.5% m/m and 10.2% y/y and it was reported that January consumer credit notched its strongest gains since January 2004. CBI reported February sales reached a six-year low for this time of the year while the distributive trades survey had a positive and improved sales balance and an improved forecast for March over February’s forecast one month ago. Collectively, these data evidence a mixed message in the U.K. housing market where mortgage approvals continue are lower but generally strong while the housing sector continues to decelerate. Consumption and retail sales also appear to be mixed with final private demand seemingly making a comeback after the disappointing holiday shopping period. Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Tucker spoke today and said final private demand and above-average capacity utilization will “fee through to rising inflation.” Notably, Tucker voted for higher interest rates last month. Cable bids are cited around the $1.9165/ 25 levels. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6865 level and was capped around the ₤0.6885 level. Euro offers are cited around the ₤0.6910 level and euro bids are seen around the ₤0.6845 level.


The Swiss franc was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1605 level and failed to get above the CHF 1.1685 level. The pair stopped just short of testing the technically-significant $1.1690/ 95 level, the 38.2% retracement of the move from $1.1895 to $1.1570. Swiss GDP and CPI data will be released on Thursday. Dollar offers are seen around the $1.1690/ 1.1730 levels. The euro shed some ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5340 level while the British pound scored marginal gains, testing offers around the CHF 2.2405 level.


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