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Tuesday February 2, 2010 - 19:08:06 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (2 February 2010)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3965 level and was supported around the $1.3885 level.  The common currency gained some ground on news the European Commission will support Greece’s deficit-reduction program that will be published tomorrow.  Greece’s budget deficit was 12.7% of GDP last year and is struggling to convince the markets it can bring that down to 3% by 2012.  Greek debt is now trading at a massive 400bps premium at the ten-year level over German bunds, the highest level since 1998.  Most traders expect the European Central Bank will keep monetary policy unchanged on Thursday.  Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-16 producer price inflation up 0.1% m/m and off 2.9% y/y.  Also, January PMI construction improved to 48.6 from 47.1 and German December retail sales were up 0.8% m/m and off 2.5% y/y.  Some dealers were spooked into selling the euro last night after Reserve Bank of Australia surprised the markets by not raising interest rates last night on the premise that higher-yielding currencies like the Australian dollar could be weaker.  ECB member Weber today said fiscal consolidation is the “main challenge” in 2010 and said he expects a “slight” worsening of the German labour market in 2010.  He also said Germany will not experience a recovery before 2011 and added the economic recovery in 2010 increasingly depends on exports.  In U.S. news, traders will pay close attention to testimony today from former Fed Chairman Volcker who will indicate hedge funds and private equity funds should be allowed to profit and fail.  Volcker is also a proponent of limiting the size of banks so that none are “too big to fail” and create unmanageable systemic risk.  Data released in the U.S. today saw December pending home sales print as expected at 1.0% m/m and up 10.5% y/y.  Tomorrow’s data will include MBA mortgage applications, January Challenge job cuts, and January ISM non-manufacturing data.  The big news this week will be Friday’s January non-farm payrolls data.  Some dealers believe the U.S. jobs report will show some improvement following a bit of an economic bounce the economy received at the end of Q4 2009.  Treasury Secretary Geithner today reported small banks “remain under enormous pressure” and said the proposed additional fee on banks will not impact lending.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3740 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥90.25 level and was capped around the ¥90.90 level.  Finance minister Kan urged Bank of Japan to continue implementing “appropriate and flexible policies” and work closely with the government to combat deflation.  BoJ Governor Shirakawa last week reported it is a “critical challenge” to root out deflation but said this week that a lack of final private demand is the “root cause of deflation” and there is no “magic wand” to lift prices.  Kan also said “it is possible that the yuan will be one of the agenda items. I will discuss it on the understanding that stable growth in China is desirable for Japan.”  Notably, bids fell short of the BoJ’s offer today in its open market operation as part of the central bank’s lending program announced in December.  Prime Minister Hatoyama said the budget environment in 2011 will remain “severe.” Bank of Japan Chief Economist Momma yesterday reported “the risk that the Japanese economy will fall off from a cliff is small, but there is still a long way to go.  Even if the global economy continues to recover, the spread of that to capital spending and the labour market will be limited.”  Momma also indicated capital spending will not indicate signs of a rebound until the fiscal year beginning in April 2011 and said the labour market will also remain weak.  The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.63% to close at ¥10,371.09.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥94.75 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥125.80 level and was capped around the ¥126.80 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥143.85 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥85.45 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 6.8275.  A rumour circulated through the market last night that China will permit the yuan to appreciate after July. People’s Bank of China adviser Fan Gang yesterday reported China’s “real worry” remains asset bubbles that could emerge as China’s economy emerges from a crisis period into a “boom time.”  Fan also noted moves by PBoC to reduce liquidity last month were “timely and necessary

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.5995 level and was supported around the $1.5900 figure level.  The big question facing traders is whether Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will scale back, pause, or extend its bond purchase program when its monetary policy announcement is made on Thursday.  The opposition Tory party, appearing poised to assume the top government slot in H1 2010, today reported it would keep the BoE’s inflation target at 2.0% if they assume power and control of the government.  Many data were released in the U.K. yesterday. First, January manufacturing PMI improved to 56.7 from 54.6, a fifteen-year high.  Second, December mortgage approvals decreased to 59,020.  Third, net lending to individuals rose by ₤1.2 billion in December.  Fourth, Hometrack January house prices were up +0.1%.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5720 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.8760 level and was supported around the ₤0.8710 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0540 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0605 level.  There was talk in the European session that Swiss National Bank lifted the euro/ Swiss franc cross to keep a lid on the Swiss franc.  Data released in Switzerland today saw the SECO consumer climate indicator improve to -7 from -14.  The media this week reported Swiss National Bank is unlikely to abandon its policy to keep a lid on the Swiss franc even though the domestic economy continues to improve.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0760 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.4740 level while the British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.6800 figure.


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