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Wednesday February 10, 2010 - 20:44:02 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (10 February 2010)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3725 level and was capped around the $1.3810 level.  There remains significant confusion regarding the reported bailout of Greece.  Some media accounts suggest Germany will offer a unilateral credit facility to refinance some Greek debt that is maturing soon while other German sources indicate no such deal is in the works.  Greek debt rallied on the perception that some sort of bailout is being discussed and the markets will also continue to focus on Portugal, Ireland, and Spain – three other eurozone countries that have unacceptably high budget deficits relative to national output.  Greek finance minister Papaconstantinou reported tomorrow’s meeting of European Union leaders is “critical.”  EU leaders are poised to meet tomorrow to discuss ways to energize the eurozone ecomomy and possibly discuss the eurozone fiscal crisis.  The markets remain very fearful that a contagion could develop and spread to other sovereign asset markets outside of the eurozone.  European Central Bank member Liikanen today reported European Union member states must be responsible for their own budgets and said Greece must reduce its own deficit.  In U.S. news, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke did not testify before the House today but in prepared testimony he noted “At present the U.S. economy continues to require the support of highly accommodative monetary policies…At some point the Federal Reserve will need to tighten financial conditions by raising short-term interest rates and reducing the quantity of bank reserves outstanding.” Specifically, Bernanke reported the discount rate may rise “before long” as part of the “normalization” of Fed lending.  Bernanke also noted the outlook for monetary policy is “about as it was” at the January Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Bernanke’s announcement that the Fed would likely first move the discount rate can be construed as a largely symbolic gesture that would serve as one step in the normalization of U.S. monetary policy and should not have a significant impact on individual investors or borrowers.  Data released in the U.S. today saw the December trade balance print at a wider-than-expected –US$ 40.2 billion compared with the prior reading of –US$ 36.4 billion.  Data to be released tomorrow and Friday include weekly initial jobless claims, continuing claims, January retail sales, December business inventories, and mid-February University of Michigan consumer sentiment.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3530 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥89.25 level and was capped around the ¥90.05 level.  There is little conviction in yen trading now as traders weigh increasing global risk aversion against Japan’s poor economic performance and deflationary pressures.  Data released in Japan overnight saw December machinery orders up 20% m/m, defying expectations of an 8% increase.  It was also reported that January producer prices declined for a thirteenth consecutive month, off 2.1% - the longest streak in six years.  Even though this was better than December’s 3.9% slide, the negative print coincided with increases in commodity costs and these data simply reaffirm the deflationary pressures evident in the economy from a lack of final private demand.  Corporate profits will be squeezed as a result to the extent that companies cannot pass along any semblance of factory gate price pressures to consumers.  BoJ Deputy Governor Yamaguchi this week warned economic growth “may stall” temporarily and said “growth may be in a pretty severe state through this summer, so we can’t really expect a rapid expansion.”  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.19% to close at ¥9,932.90.  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 ¥122.65 level and was capped around the ¥124.25 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥139.40 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥83.70 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8320 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8267.  The Chinese military was on the tape overnight saying the markets should sell U.S. Treasury debt to punish the U.S. for reaching a military deal with Taiwan.  People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou hawkishly said “Right now the inflation rate has started to go up, but the level is still relatively low.  We need to closely watch (the level of inflation).”  Some economists expect China’s consumer price inflation likely advanced 2.1% y/y last month.  Japanese think tank Nomura Institute of Capital Markets today reported China may permit the yuan to strengthen at an annual rate of 5% vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar after possibly raising borrowing costs in June.  Data released in China saw January exports rise at a slower-than-expected rate as overseas sales were up 21% y/y.

The British pound moved sharply lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.5600 figure and was capped around the $1.5765 level.  Bank of England released its quarterly inflation report today and noted inflation remains low in the U.K. and added the strength of the economic recovery of the U.K. economy remains “highly uncertain.”  Notably, BoE Governor King reported economic growth has decelerated from November 2009 but said Q4 GDP numbers could be upwardly revised.  Specifically on the inflation front, the central bank said inflation could move above 3% this year but added it should moderate within two years.  King also noted it is too early to say if the Bank will expand its quantitative easing purchase program by resuming bond and asset purchases.  Data released in the U.K. today saw December manufacturing production climb 0.9% m/m and decline 1.9% y/y while December industrial production was up 0.5% m/m and off 3.6% y/y. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5340 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.8820 level and was supported around the ₤0.8745 level.

CHF

The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.0680 level and was supported around the CHF 1.0615 level.  Swiss National Bank member Jordan yesterday indicated it is premature to raise interest rates from their near zero per cent level.  Jordan also reported the SNB will continue to prevent an “excessive” appreciate of the Swiss franc, adding the franc is seen as a “safe haven.”  Data released in Switzerland yesterday saw December real retail sales up 4.7% while the January unemployment rate rose to 4.5% from 4.4%.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0810 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.4650 level while the British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.6620 level.

 

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