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Monday March 22, 2010 - 14:55:15 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (22 March 2010)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3495 level and was capped around the $1.3545 level.  The common currency came off on fresh fireworks regarding Greece’s acute fiscal situation.  German Chancellor Merkel said policymakers must not create “illusions” this week regarding a possible agreement regarding financial assistance for Greece.  Greek Prime Minister Papandreou and European Commission President Barroso said this week’s summit of European Union leaders on 25-26 March should provide details about what type of assistance may be available to Greece.  Many dealers believe the International Monetary Fund will end up providing financial assistance to Greece if required while others believe Greece will have to obtain additional assistance from elsewhere.  Ecofin head Juncker said Greece “will not be abandoned if aid is needed.”  Germany’s Bundesbank reported financial deficits is not part of the IMF’s mandate with one Bundesbank official suggesting Greece should just consider itself insolvent.  European Central Bank member Weber warned Germany will need to rely on domestic demand more for economic growth, warning recent export performance is not sustainable.  Data to be released in the eurozone tomorrow include EMU-16 March industrial confidence followed by PMI data later this week.  In U.S. news, data released in the U.S. today saw the February Chicago Fed National Activity Index decline to -0.64 from the downwardly revised prior reading of -0.04.  Traders and economists alike are still discussing the Obama administration’s success in passing some initial health care reform overnight through the U.S. Congress.  Two major questions concern how this will impact the U.S. politically – particularly in November’s mid-term elections – and what impact a health care deal will have on U.S. debt levels, credit ratings, and market sentiment.  There is renewed talk the U.S. may lose its ‘AAA’ credit rating on account of concerns the sustainability of the U.S.’s massive debt.  The U.S. Treasury has sold some US$ 2.59 trillion in debt since the beginning of 2009 and the U.S. budget deficit now exceeds 10% of U.S. gross domestic product.  In recent weeks, some U.S. corporate debt has become more highly-valued than U.S. Treasuries.  About 7% of U.S. tax revenue this year will be spent on servicing the U.S.’s massive debt load.  St. Louis Fed President Bullard today said the U.S. is “about to turn the corner” in the U.S. labour market with some “good months of jobs data coming up very, very soon.”  Bullard speculated March will provide a good tally of non-farm payrolls data and said he expects a “reasonable” economic recovery.  Fed Chairman Bernanke on Friday said the U.S. needs a mechanism where financial firms can be unwound without having to resort to taxpayer money. 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 ¥90.40 level and was capped around the ¥90.75 level.  Japanese financial markets were closed overnight and will reopen tonight.  Dealers cited lingering repatriation flows back into Japan ahead of the fiscal year end next week.  It was reported overnight that Bank of Japan’s Japanese government bond holdings now total ¥51.6 trillion, a fresh two-year high.  National Strategy Minister Sengoku last week reported Japan has “extremely little” room for additional fiscal stimulus.  In contrast, Financial Services Minister Kamei last week reported the government should compile a stimulus package.  Bank of Japan last week expanded monetary policy further, doubling a three-month lending facility to ¥20 trillion.  Data to be released in Japan overnight include February merchandise trade and February convenience and supermarket store sales.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.75% on Friday 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 ¥122.15 level and was capped around the ¥122.60 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥135.85 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥85.05 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8267 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8266.  Traders are starting to focus on a U.S. government report due 15 April that could potentially identify China as a “currency manipulator.”  Chinese-U.S. relations remain quite embittered at the moment with China suggesting most of the U.S.’s economic and financial problems are of its own making.  U.S. Ambassador to China Huntsman verbally intervened last 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. February industrial profits data will be released this week.

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.4930 level and was capped around the $1.5025 level.  Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Sentance last week reported he’s “been relatively encouraged by the turnaround we've seen in the last year, both in the UK and in the global economy.  You have to recognize there is some risk of a double dip, but that's not the central forecast. You'd have to see some factors bring that about: we've seen big shocks in the international economy over the last couple of years, so you couldn't rule out some new shocks emerging on the financial front which could set back the economy. But that's not my central expectation.”  It was reported last week that Bank of England reported net business lending fell 9.3% m/m, the sharpest decline since record-keeping began in 1999.    Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.4455 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 0.9000 figure and was capped around the £0.9045 level.


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 1.0575 level.  Swiss National Bank published its quarterly economic report today and noted it will continue to “act decisively” to prevent an “excessive” appreciation of the franc.  In recent days, many dealers speculated the SNB would be less likely to sell francs for euro given the recent improvement in the U.S. economy and the cross has fallen to fresh multi-month lows as a result. SNB today indicated it expects the Swiss recovery to be “moderate and fragile.”  Data released in Switzerland last week 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 came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.4325 level while the British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 1.5950 level.


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