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Friday March 19, 2010 - 19:33:25 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (19 March 2010)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3500 figure and was capped around the $1.3625 level.  Bank of Spain yesterday reported that bad loans at Spanish banks have reached their highest level since 1996, reaching 5.6% of total credit.  There are new details in the ongoing saga concerning Greece’s fiscal woes. Germany all of a sudden is said to favour a new policy framework that would have the International Monetary Fund providing fiscal relief to Greece, a shift in policy.  France, on the other hand, is said to resist involvement of the International Monetary Fund and if these reports are true, they would pit Germany’s Merkel against France’s Sarkozy.  One school of thought suggests Sarkozy may be resisting IMF involvement because his would-be political competiton, Strauss-Kahn, heads the IMF.  Data released in Germany today saw February producer price inflation flat m/m and off 2.9% y/y.  Data to be released in Germany next week include Ifo business sentiment and PMI data.  EMU-16 March consumer confidence data will be released on Monday.  In U.S. news, data to be released in the U.S. on Monday include the February Chicago Fed’s national activity index followed by home sales data on Tuesday.  The Federal Reserve today withdrew exemptions for banks it had granted in August 2007 as part of a move to boost the provision of liquidity.  This exemption removal is the Fed’s latest maneuver to withdraw policy accommodation.  The Fed did not lift its discount rate again yesterday, contrary to widespread speculation that policymakers would imminently continue to shift policy without raising the federal funds target rate.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3335 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥90.30 level and was capped around the ¥90.70 level. National Strategy Minister Sengoku reported Japan has “extremely little” room for additional fiscal stimulus.  In contrast, Financial Services Minister Kamei this week reported the government should compile a stimulus package.  Prime Minister Hatoyama has indicated he has not considered an additional fiscal stimulus package at this time.  Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is nearing 200%, among the highest of all industrialized nations.  Data released in Japan overnight saw the January all-industry activity index climb to 3.8% m/m from -0.3%.  Sengoku also noted an easier monetary policy may have only a “limited impact” on overcoming deflation.  Bank of Japan this week expanded monetary policy further, doubling a three-month lending facility to ¥20 trillion. BoJ Policy Board member Momma said overnight that fiscal policy must “earn the trust” of the markets.  Other data released overnight saw the retail investor sentiment index up +6 points.  Bank of Japan this week kept its economic assessment unchanged for a fourth consecutive month, reporting the economy is “picking up.” The central bank also upped its assessment of business investment, adding it is “leveling out on the whole.”  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.75% to close at ¥10,824.72. 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 ¥122.25 level and was capped around the ¥123.35 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥135.60 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥85.10 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8266 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8264.  China reported its purchases of U.S. Treasuries have helped stabilize the U.S. financial markets and urged the U.S. to avoid politicizing China’s yuan policy.  U.S. Ambassador to China Huntsman verbally intervened this week, saying the U.S. “hopes to see more flexibility on the exchange rate. I would be misleading you if I left you with the impression that this wasn’t a very, very important issue in the United States, and will continue to be. We’ll see how the next few weeks play out.”  The central bank is expected to tighten monetary policy further imminently.

The British pound depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.4985 level and was capped around the $1.5255 level. Bank of England reported net business lending fell 9.3% m/m, the sharpest decline since record-keeping began in 1999.  Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Sentance reported he’s “been relatively encouraged by the turnaround we've seen in the last year, both in the UK and in the global economy.  You have to recognize there is some risk of a double dip, but that's not the central forecast. You'd have to see some factors bring that about: we've seen big shocks in the international economy over the last couple of years, so you couldn't rule out some new shocks emerging on the financial front which could set back the economy. But that's not my central expectation.”  BoE yesterday noted that mortgage lending has “recovered somewhat.”  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.4455 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 0.9015 level and was capped around the £0.8920 level.

 

CHF

The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.0635 level and was supported around the CHF 1.0540 level. Traders continue to speculate the Swiss National Bank’s franc policy has shifted and that policymakers will tolerate more appreciation of the franc.  Swiss National Bank member Danthine noted it will continue to counter excessive foreign exchange gains.  Data released in Switzerland yesterday saw Q4 industrial production rise 6.4% q/q and decline 1.1% y/y while the February trade surplus declined to CHF 1.29 billion from CHF 2.42 billion.  The euro/ Swiss franc cross came off to a fresh sixteen-month low amid declining expectations of additional Swiss National Bank intervention.  Also, the March ZEW expectations index climbed to 53.8 from 52.5 in February.  The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.4315 level while the British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.5920 level.

 

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