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Wednesday March 9, 2005 - 15:08:06 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (9 March 2005)

The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3330 level but traded as high as the $1.3385 level during early North American dealing. The pair has remained above the technically-significant US$ 1.3305 level and its retracement has thus far been shallow. Traders continue to position themselves ahead of Friday’s January trade deficit data that are expected to show a slight increase in the U.S. trade imbalance at the beginning of the year. These data will then spotlight the release of the Treasury International Capital (TIC) data next week to see if the U.S. succeeded in covering the trade shortfall with international portfolio inflows. European Central Bank President Trichet spoke today and said the central bank is prepared to raise interest rates to avert inflationary pressures. These remarks follow hawkish comments made by ECB policymaker Wellink yesterday. Trichet also reiterated his warning concerning reform of the Stability and Growth Pact. Critics of the ECB note that eurozone economic growth is weak, the euro remains relatively strong, and inflationary pressures seem to be receding. German economic data released today saw January industrial output up 3.1%, exceeding expectations. Germany’s IfW institute released a forecast today that predicts German economic growth of +0.6% to +0.8% in 2005 and predicts Germany will exceed its 3.0% deficit ceiling target in 2005 and 2006. Fed Governor Bernanke spoke yesterday and said the Fed can likely “remove policy accommodation in a measured way” and predicted economic growth of 3.75% or more in 2005 in the U.S. Bernanke also predicted “healthy employment gains in the coming quarters.” Traders await the release of the Fed’s Beige Book later today. Euro bids are cited ahead of the $1.3305 level.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥103.80 level, its lowest print since 4 February. The move to multi-week lows prompted finance minister Tanigaki to verbally intervene, repeating the MoF’s mantra of “appropriate action.” Japan’s fiscal year-end is the end of this month and some yen buying is said to be linked to repatriation of overseas assets. Data released in Japan overnight saw the January index of leading economic indicators at 55.0, the first time it has been above the “boom-or-bust” 50.0 level in five months. These data are consistent with the recent increase in consumption, exports, and industrial output and suggest Japan’s current recession will be short-lived. The coincident index printed at 88.9 in January while the January lagging index came in at 75.0. Other data released today saw machine tools fall 0.5% m/m in February to ¥106.769 billion but the year-on-year rate was up 26.0%. Traders are closely watching the price of oil as it nears the $55.00/ barrel level, just below a record high. Some names in the industry continue to speculate on the possibility of $80.00 oil. Another strong mover has been the CRB Index of seventeen commodity futures that established a fresh 24-year high this week. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.67% to close at ¥11,966.69. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.85 level. The euro lost ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.80 level and was capped around the ¥139.85 level while the British pound failed to get above the ¥202.00 figure and briefly traded below the psychologically-important ¥202.00 figure. In Chinese news, finance minister Jin today said the yuan’s current exchange rate is “appropriate” for business. He also indicated China may use some of its foreign exchange reserves to pay off some RMB 1.4 trillion in non-performing loans in the banking sector. China has previously recapitalized Bank of China and China Construction Bank with US$ 45.00 billion.

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids just below the US$ 1.9200 figure and was capped around the $1.9315 level. Sterling moved lower after the release of weak U.K. trade and industrial production data. The U.K.’s global trade deficit worsened in January, expanding to ₤5.2 billion and above expectations of a ₤4.6 billion imbalance. December’s deficit was revised to -₤4.9 billion from -₤4.4 billion. Also, January industrial production fell 0.2% m/m and December’s print was downwardly revised to +0.4% from +0.5%. In contrast to these bad data, manufacturing output evidenced a +0.2% m/m rise. Most traders believe tomorrow’s Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee interest rate announcement will be a non-event. Cable bids are seen around the $1.9170 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6945 level and was supported around the ₤0.6910 level.


The Swiss franc lost minor ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1645 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1580 level, around a floor that has supported the pair since 22 February. Traders await comments from Swiss National Bank President Roth later in the day. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1745 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5535 level while the British pound depreciated and tested bids around the CHF 2.2325 level.


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