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Wednesday March 24, 2010 - 19:38:52 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (24 March 2010)

The euro depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3325 level and was capped around the $1.3505 level.  The common currency was pressured lower after ratings agency Fitch downgraded Portgual’s debt from AA to AA- and adopted a negative outlook for the country.  Risk appetite diminished as traders fear that Greece’s significant fiscal problems are being complented by worsening woes in other eurozone countries including Portugal and Spain.  Greece is widely expected to receive some financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund, if not other eurozone members, but a worsening in other countries’ financial conditions could precipitate a much larger crisis that could impact the entire bloc and keep downward pressure on the euro.  Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-16 January new industrial orders decrease 2% m/m and rise 7% y/y. Also, Germany’s March Ifo business climate survey improved to its highest level since June 2008, reaching 98.1 – a sharp increase from February’s print of 95.2.  The Ifo expectations survey reached its highest level since February 2007 at 101.9 in March.  Additionally, the EMU-16 PMI services index rallied to 53.7 from 51.8 in February and the EMU-16 manufacturing PMI survey improved to 56.3 with German services and manufacturing PMI surveys also notching gains.  These data evidence the dichotomy between the improving eurozone economy and a struggling eurozone finnacial environment.  In U.S. news, data released there saw MBA mortgage applications decline 4.2% in the latest week while February durable goods at the headline level were up a smaller-than-expected +0.5%, down from an upwardly-revised 3.9%. The ex-transportation component came in above expectations at +0.9%, a sharp reversal from the -0.6% decline last month.  Other data saw February new home sales off 2.2% m/m to an annualized 308,000, defying expectations of an increase.  Data to be released tomorrow include weekly initial jobless claims and continuing jobless claims.  Chicago Fed President Evans said recent economic growth has been precipitated by inventory adjustment following the end of the recession but noted new sources of economic growth will need to emerge.  Evans yesterday said he would not be surprised if the Fed’s easy interest rate stance carried through to 2011.  Kansas City Fed President Hoenig reported U.S. economic growth will be about 3% this year and said the Fed should continue normalizing monetary policy.  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 ¥91.95 level and was supported around the ¥90.35 level.  The greenback appreciated across the board in response to heightened concerns about the severe fiscal problems in the eurozone with many traders focusing on Portugal now.  The Hatoyama government reported the postal bank will double the amount of deposits it can accept from individual investors and many of those proceeds are expected to find their way into the Japanese government bond market.  Hatoyama also had his budget passed by Japan’s Parliament today, a record ¥92.3 trillion.  Japan is expected to issue around ¥44 trillion in new bonds to help finance its massive spending programs in the fiscal year beginning next month.  Japan’s fiscal situation is becoming perilous with very little room for the government to enact supplementary fiscal budgets and additional stimuli on account of the major growth in government expenditures.  Data released in Japan overnight saw the February trade balance print at +¥651 billion.  Data to be released in Japan overnight include the February corporate service price index with many economists expecting a 1.2% y/y decline.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.38% to close at ¥10,815.03.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥94.75 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥122.75 level and was supported around the ¥121.40 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥137.20 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥86.05 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar depreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8267 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8264.  People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou reported “If you can be sure about the recovery, then some of the extraordinary stimulus policies can gradually phase out. On the other hand, you should know it’s not a W-shaped recovery.”  Zhou yesterday intimated that Chinese officials might hold bilateral talks with U.S. officials to discuss exchange rates, noting “very high profile noise” isn’t “helpful.” Traders are focusing on a U.S. government report due 15 April that could potentially identify China as a “currency manipulator.”  U.S. Senators Schumer and Graham are seeking to pass legislation by the end of May that would enact penalties against China for not liberalizing its yuan exchange rate enough.

The British pound depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.4875 level and was capped around the $1.5045 level.  The U.K. is suffering from significant debt levels and sterling fell following the downgrade of Portugal by Fitch.  Chancellor of the Exchequer Darling today reduced his budget deficit forecast for the next five fiscal years by £44 billion.  On the whole, Darling’s fiscal report was more proactive than expected about addressing the U.K.’s fiscal problems.  Darling’s announcement was important today as it represented Labour’s last major chance to reassure global investors about that the party is committed to fiscal and economic reform.  U.K. gilt sales are expected to decline about 18% in the next fiscal year.  The U.K.’s 2009-2010 budget deficit is expected to total around £167 billion and be slightly less in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.4455 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.8910 level and was capped around the £0.8980 level.

CHF

The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.0715 level and was supported around the CHF 1.0555 level.  Swiss National Bank Vice Chairman Jordan reiterated the central bank will work to prevent excessive franc appreciation.  Swiss National Bank President Hildebrand yesterday reported the central bank will “decisively” act against “excessive” franc strength, noting the central bank can intervene to a “very large extent.”  Swiss National Bank on Monday 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.”  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1180 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.4230 level while the British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 1.6025 level.

 

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