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Thursday March 3, 2005 - 15:05:23 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (3 March 2005)

The euro traded in a relatively narrow range vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested challenged offers around the US$ 1.3165 level and was supported around the $1.3120 level. Many traders are on the sidelines ahead of tomorrow’s all-important February U.S. non-farm payrolls data. A median range of forecasts is calling for new job growth of +210,000 to 235,000 for last month. Data released in the U.S. today saw a nice gain in final Q4 non-farm productivity, up from a preliminary 0.8% to 2.1%, while unit labour costs printed at +1.3%. The dollar moved off of highs yesterday after Fed Chairman Greenspan steered clear of interest rates in congressional budget testimony, disappointing dollar bulls who hoped for some hawkishness after the recent climb in core personal consumer expenditures inflation. Greenspan is also scheduled to speak this morning and traders will be tuned-in to see if he provides any trading-worthy comments. Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-12 services PMI recede to 53.0 last month from 53.4 in January, weaker-than-expected, as Germany, France, and Italy all reported lower PMI numbers. European Central Bank policymakers convened today and left monetary policy unchanged as expected. ECB President Trichet is scheduled to speak later in the session and traders will closely monitor his comments following yesterday’s press reports that the ECB will cut its forecast for EMU-12 growth in 2005 from 1.9% to 1.6%. Fed Governor Gramlich spoke yesterday and said the U.S. economy is approaching “most definitions” of full employment and added inflation should remain stable. In contrast, San Francisco Fed President Yellen said there is “quite a bit of slack” in the economy despite the low jobless rate. Euro bids are seen around the $1.3085 level with additional buying interest cited just above the $1.3000 figure.


The yen lost minor ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.15 level and was supported around the ¥104.70 level. The pair, however, remains unable to test technical resistance around the ¥105.35 level. Bank of Japan injected ¥500 billion into the short-term money market today in what amounted to its first emergency fund injection in four months. The central bank was required to do this because it is concerned commercial banks’ reserves may decline below its liquidity target of ¥30 – 35 trillion. It is extra-important for BoJ to avert any financial disruptions ahead of the government’s 1 April action to lift its total guarantee on banks accounts in the event of bank failure. The guarantee cap will be ¥10 million per account from April. BoJ Governor Fukui today reiterated the central bank will maintain its quantitative easing policy in place until the economy recovers further. MoF’s Hosokawa cautioned against a rise in JGB yields while deflation persists. Hosokawa’s comments were seconded by Finance Minister Tanigaki. Data released in Japan today saw Japanese investors buy ¥312.1 billion in foreign bonds and ¥34.9 billion in foreign stocks in the week ending 26 February while foreign investors sold ¥534.4 billion in Japanese bonds and buy ¥181.3 billion in Japanese equities. Japan’s lower house of parliament today officially approved the FY 2005 ¥82.18 trillion budget. Notably, the budget includes a 0.7% reduction in general expenditures. Traders are also carefully watching the price of oil as front-month crude futures recently printed above the US$ 53.00 level, an all-time high. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.36% to close at ¥11,856.46. Options traders cite ¥104.50, ¥105.00, and ¥105.50 expiries at 1500 GMT today. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.35 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥138.05 level and was supported around the ¥137.55 level. Euro offers are cited around the ¥138.30 level while euro bids are seen around the ¥137.25 level. In Chinese news, the press is reporting Premier Wen Jinbao will promote “prudent” macroeconomic policies in a speech on Saturday

The British extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9060 level, a technical support level related to the $1.8750/ 1.9260 range. Despite a brief retracement to the $1.9120 level during early North American dealing, sterling was mostly given from the Australasian open. Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Bell last night said policy should be set “neither too hot nor too cold” and advocated a “pragmatic” approach to monetary policy. Bell is considered a monetary dove and her remarks are notably less hawkish than recent comments from fellow MPC member Lomax and Tucker. Data released in the U.K. today saw CIPS services PMI at 55.1 last month, off from 55.9 in January but still above the “boom-or-bust” 50.0 level. Cable bids are seen around the US$ 1.9005 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6885 level and remained supported around the ₤0.6860 level.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1795 level, briefly testing offers above technical resistance around the CHF 1.1775 area. Data released in Switzerland today saw Q4 GDP decline by a real 0.1% q/q, defying expectations of a +0.2% gain. On an annualized basis, Q4 GDP climbed 1.2%, also below expectations. SECO reported “against the background of a weaker global economy the Swiss economy showed a significant cooling in the fourth quarter…however, this should be a temporary pause in growth and not the start of a new downturn ... early economic indicators point to more moderate growth, but not to sustained stagnation or even to recession.” Other Swiss data released today saw February CPI rise 0.2% m/m and +1.4% y/y, in-line with expectations. Dollar bids are seen around the CHF 1.1730 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5470 level while the British pound was marginally higher, testing offers around the CHF 2.2490 level.


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