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Monday March 7, 2005 - 15:19:34 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (7 March 2005)

The euro retraced some of its strong gains from Friday vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3180 level after failing to get above the $1.3250 level. Traders are re-evaluating Friday’s decent U.S. non-farm payrolls data that saw 262,000 new jobs created last month, the largest gain in four months. The dollar, however, fell on these data because traders anticipated an even stronger number and were very long dollars heading into the number. Famed U.S. investor Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders was released over the weekend in which he said the U.S.’s trade policy would “put unremitting pressure on the dollar for many years to come.” European Central Bank President Trichet was today quoted as saying low yields in global debt markets could be indicative of an underpricing of risk. Dealers are also talking about a German media report that claims the German government will reduce its 2005 GDP growth forecast to 0.9% - 1.2% from the current 1.5% forecast. Market participants are closely watching the meeting of EMU-12 finance ministers tonight and tomorrow as a deal on reform of the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact could be at hand. Austrian finance minister Grasser today said he would “tolerate small and temporary breaches” of the 3% deficit limit of GDP. Grasser is known as a hard-line fiscal policy finance minister and his views are not dissimilar from the European Central Bank’s views on reform of the Pact. ECB’s Welling today said he expects an improvement in consumer spending and said the impact of higher oil prices on growth “has not been large.” Data released in the eurozone today saw February retail PMI print at 47.3, down from 49.9 in January. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3185 level and euro offers are seen around the $1.3250/80 levels with some stops seen above the $1.3310 level.


The yen came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.35 level and remained supported around the ¥104.50 level. Data released in Japan overnight October – December capital expenditures climb +3.5% y/y, an indication of continued improvement in the corporate sector, and it was also reported that recurring profits climbed 17.6% y/y. MoF’s Hosokawa characterized the capital spending data as “firm” despite its deceleration. Speaking at the G10 meeting of central bankers in Basel, Bank of Japan Governor Fukui cited “oil prices and foreign exchange” as risk factors and reiterated his central bank will maintain its quantitative easing policy “until year-on-year CPI changes stabilize.” Other data released in Japan overnight saw final February foreign reserves at US$ 840.564 billion, down from US$ 840.966 billion at the end of January. This marked the 63rd consecutive month that Japan’s foreign reserves are the highest in the world and traders carefully watch these data to see if and when Japan will start to reduce its exposure to U.S. assets. Japanese officials last week pointed out that Japan continues to be a net buyer of foreign bonds, dispelling rumours that it is trying to reduce its holding of U.S. Treasury assets. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.44% to close at ¥11,925.36. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥105.50 level. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers just below the ¥139.00 figure and was supported around the ¥138.35 level. In Chinese news, State Administration of Foreign Exchange head Guo reiterated “there will not be any major changes in China’s foreign exchange reserve portfolio…we are unlikely to adjust the holding on the currency’s short-term movements…our forex reserves are very diversified already.” National Development and Reform Commission director Ma last night said China “will not relax the macroeconomic controls this year.” The NDRC also raised its target for urban unemployment to 4.6% in 2005 from 4.2% last year. People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou denied speculation that China is in a deflationary stage, reminding the market that CPI expanded +0.6% m/m in January. In other Chinese news, some media are reporting the total trade volume between China and Japan escalated 25.7% y/y to US$167.9 billion last year.

The British pound lost sizable ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9110 level and was capped around the $1.9250 level. Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee will convene this week and is not expected to alter its monetary policy. MPC’s Tucker voted for a 25bps monetary tightening last month and it is highly unlikely that a majority of policymakers have adopted a more hawkish view on rates since then. Short sterling interest rate futures continue to price in 25bps of monetary tightening in Q1. Dealers await the release of the BRC retail sales survey this week. Sterling bids are cited around the $1.9100 figure with additional demand seen around the $1.9080/ 70 level. Cable offers are seen around the $1.9250 level. The euro climbed higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6910 level and was supported around the ₤0.6875 level. Euro offers are seen around the ₤0.6920 level.


The Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1780 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1685 level. Swiss data released today saw the unemployment rate remain unchanged at 4.1% last month as the number of jobless people in Switzerland fell to 160,451. Swiss National Bank President Roth is scheduled to speak on Wednesday. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1790 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5530 level while the British pound tested offers around the CHF 2.2525 level.


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