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Friday February 19, 2010 - 18:40:11 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (19 February 2010)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3545 level and was supported around the $1.3440 level.  The Federal Reserve raised the discount rate yesterday by 50bps to 0.75%, citing “continued improvements in financial market conditions” and said this move represents a “a further normalization of the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities.”  The Fed also announced that the maximum maturity for primary credit loans will be shortened to overnight effective 18 March and added its Term Auction Facility (TAF) program will end on 8 March 2010.  The Fed clearly wanted to show that the economy is improving without disrupting the financial markets too much. Many Fed-watchers see the move as largely symbolic, especially given the fact that there is only around US$ 14.7 billion outstanding at the Fed’s discount window.  Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Dudley today said “Think of this as the last adjustment tied to the end of all the liquidity facilities.  Think of this as the last piece of that package, rather than the first piece of the new package.” Speaking about the economy, Dudley added “Monetary policy is about the economy.  We need to see solid growth and job creation.  Today we got an inflation report that showed there’s no inflation pressure.  So our focus needs to be on growth and jobs.” Data released in the U.S. today saw the January headline consumer price index climb 0.2% m/m and 2.6% y/y while the ex-food and energy CPI rate was off 0.1% m/m and up 1.6% y/y.  These data were a contrast with yesterday’s producer price inflation data that came in stronger-than-expected and today’s CPI data suggest that retailers are finding it difficult to pass on price increases to consumers.  Other data released today saw Q4 mortgage delinquencies decline to 9.47% from the prior reading of 9.64%.  Some economits believe the Fed may raise the federal funds target rate by the end of the year while others do not foresee any change this year.  In eurozone news, Germany and Greece continue to exchange insults as Greece tries to restore itself to fiscal health.  Many German politicians continue to oppose a financial bailout of Greece.  European Central Bank member Gonzalez-Paramo said there is no risk of “losing access to liquidity.”  He also added the ECB will progressively phase out measures.  Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero said his country “will cut its deficit once the economy recovers.”  Data released in the eurozone today saw the December EMU-16 current account surplus print at €1.9 billion.  Also, German January producer price inflation was up 0.8% m/m and off 3.4% y/y, the highest monthly level since July 2008.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3335 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥92.10 level and was supported around the ¥91.60 level.  Bank of Japan today reported the economic recovery is continuing but added “there is not yet sufficient momentum to support a self-sustaining recovery in domestic private demand.”  BoJ also noted exports and production will continue to improve and regarding deflation, the BoJ added “the year-on-year pace of decline in consumer prices…to remain more or less unchanged for the time being, and then moderate as the aggregate supply and demand balance improves gradually.” As expected, Bank of Japan voted yesterday to unanimously to maintain its overnight call rate at 0.1%, the same official target level it has been at since December 2008.  BoJ Governor Shirakawa reported “the key to putting Japan out of deflation” is “improving productivity.”  He also noted the central bank will monitor the impact of Toyota’s massive vehicle recall on overall Japanese production and the impact of Europe’s debt crisis.  The government had been pushing the BoJ to expand policy further to counter strong deflationary pressures.  Finance minister Kan today said “the Bank of Japan and government are basically pointing in the same direction.  The government will do its part with fiscal and tax policy, while the central bank will use monetary tools.”  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 2.05% to close at ¥10,123.58. 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 ¥123.55 level and was capped around the ¥124.35 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥140.85 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥84.30 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar remained steady vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8333 in the over-the-counter market.  Chinese financial markets were closed for the Chinese New Year holiday.  Last week, People’s Bank of China reconfirmed it will “gradually guide monetary conditions back to normal levels from the counter-crisis mode” but then the central bank lifted reserve requirements by 0.5%, effective 25 February. The central bank is clearly trying to contain inflationary pressures and avert asset bubbles.  Some China-watchers believe the central bank could allow the yuan to appreciate some 5% in the coming months. 

The British pound moved sharply lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.5350 level and was capped around the $1.5530 level. Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Fisher said the economic outlook is “hugely uncertain.”  Fisher added “Double dip (recession) is something that would likely happen if there was some exogenous, extraneous shock that came along and hit the economy.  It’s not something that you can forecast.”  It was announced today that Kate Barker will leave the MPC and Spencer Dale was reappointed to the MPC.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5340 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.8790 level and was supported around the ₤0.8705 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0770 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0895 level.  Data released in Switzerland yesterday saw the January trade surplus climb to  CHF 2.42 billion from CHF 1.36 billion in December.  Also, the ZEW February expectations survey fell to 52.5 from 56.2 in January.  Dealers this week again speculated the Swiss National Bank sold francs for euro in an intervention to help Swiss foreign trade.  Many dealers believe the Swiss National Bank will not be able to prevent the Swiss U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0930 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.4640 level while the British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.6655 level.


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