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Tuesday March 8, 2005 - 14:38:42 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (8 March 2005)

The euro retraced yesterday’s losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3255 level and was supported around the $1.3210 level. Many players are said to be on the sidelines ahead of this Friday’s U.S. trade data and speeches by Fed Chairman Greenspan later in the week. Forecasts for Friday’s trade number are focusing on a trade deficit of around US$ 56.5 billion in January, around the same level as December’s reported US$ 56.4 billion. Traders remain caught between pro-cyclical economic growth levels in the U.S. and the U.S.’s mammoth trade and current account deficits. At the moment, it appears the U.S. dollar bears are winning with the greenback pressured. U.S. dollar bulls may have lowered their expectations for a U.S. dollar resurgence following its inability to rally after Friday’s relatively strong February non-farm payrolls number. St. Louis Fed President Poole is scheduled to speak at 1700 GMT today on current account deficits. Traders are closely watching the current EMU-12 finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels to see if an agreement can be reached on reform of the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact. Attendees noted that a late-night session concluded with Germany still expressing reservations about several key issues and EMU-12 ministers are likely to next meet on 20 March. The European Central Bank remains opposed to any one-sided tinkering with the Pact, concerned that it will unnecessarily relax fiscal austerity rules in the eurozone. In other ECB news, Governing Council member Wellink today said excess money supply is precipitating inflationary pressures and added “the time will come when (the ECB) will have to take steps.” It was also reported today that Lorenzo Bini Smaghi will likely replace Padoa-Schioppa on the ECB’s executive board on 1 June. The ECB will released its monthly bulletin on Thursday and it is likely to not be overly optimistic, especially given last week’s downward revisions to 2005 EMU-12 economic growth. The IMF today called on the ECB to keep interest rates unchanged while economic growth remains weak in the eurozone. Euro offers are noted around the $1.3305 level, above which stops are cited, while euro bids are seen around the $1.3215 level.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback again tested technical support around the ¥104.85 level and was capped ahead of the ¥105.20 level. Today’s range was very tight and the dollar remains unable to get through technical resistance around the ¥105.55 level. A mixed bag of Japanese economic data was released overnight to muddy traders’ outlook on the yen. January household spending gained a real 0.5% y/y, the first increase in five months. Also, February bank lending was off 3.0% y/y, the 86th consecutive monthly decline and the M2+CDs money supply was up 1.9% y/y, down from 2.0% in January. Additionally, January industrial machinery orders slumped 11.3% y/y while the number of full-time workers in Japan improved for the first time in more than seven years. The Nikkei newspaper is reporting the October – December quarterly GDP level – scheduled to be released on Monday – may be downwardly revised to -0.2% and -0.6%. Most Japan-watchers, however, believe the current recession will be short-lived as there has been an increase in final private demand and consumption represents some 55% to 60% of the economy. MoF’s Watanabe verbally intervene to prevent the yen from gaining too much ground, noting the U.S.’s plan to reduce its budget deficit is a “very firm commitment.” He added he has a “strong concern that the yen is overvalued…if there is an abrupt movement or an overshoot, we are going to freely step into the market.” It is notable that Bank of Japan last sold yen for dollars nearly one year ago to the day. Watanabe also talked about the topic of creating a single regional currency and estimated it may take twenty years to materialize. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.32% to close at ¥11,886.91. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.55l level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥138.75 level, unable to get above the ¥139.25 level, while the British pound was capped around the ¥202.00 figure and tested bids around the ¥200.80 level. In Chinese news, the FT cited a Bank for International Settlements report today that suggest that polled Asian central and commercial banks maintained 67% of their deposits in U.S. dollars as of September 2004, down from 81% in Q3 2001. Chinese banks and Indian banks are said to have lowered their U.S. dollar exposure by 15% and 25%, respectively. Similarly, Middle Eastern banks are said to have lowered their U.S. dollar exposure by 13.5%.

The British pound once again showed its resilience vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9260 level, erasing yesterday’s losses. Stops were reached above the $1.9240 level as sterling moved just below technical resistance seen around the $1.9270 level. The BRC reported that like-for-like retail sales fell 0.3% y/y in February, down from January’s 0.5% gain. Traders are curious to see how Bank of England Governor King reacts to weaker retail sales data if they materialize. Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown today said he is against any plan to strengthen the European Commission’s powers over EMU-12 countries’ economic and fiscal policies. Cable bids are seen around the $1.9235 level while cable offers are seen around the $1.9350 level. The euro was little-changed vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6885 level and was capped around the ₤0.6910 level. Euro bids are cited around the ₤0.6870/ 55 levels.


The Swiss franc made a strong move higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1645 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1755 level. Stops were hit below technical support around the CHF 1.1660 level, pushing the pair to intraday lows during North American dealing. Swiss National Bank President Roth is scheduled to speak tomorrow. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1695/ 1.1730 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5485 level while the British pound weakened and tested bids around the CHF 2.2445 level.


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