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Friday March 26, 2010 - 14:30:57 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (26 March 2010)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3405 level and was supported around the $1.3265 level.  The common currency has been quite volatile for weeks on account of uncertainty regarding financial assistance for Greece.  Ecofin ministers convened last night and today and an aid package for Greece was formally agreed to involving both financial assistance from the European Union via bilateral loans and the International Monetary Fund.  Late last night, European Central Bank President Trichet said IMF involvement would be “very, very bad” whereas today he indicated he was “happy” with the results.  Greek Prime Minister Papandreou reported Greece will sell more debt at an “opportune time.”  The Greek aid package was structured so that Greece can tap the credit facilities if required but it is possible that Greece may never need to utilize these facilities.  Achieving a European  consensus on this issue was difficult but was facilitated by agreement between Germany and France.  Attention will now shift to fiscal woes in Portugal, Spain, and Italy.  Data released in France today saw March consumer confidence worsen to -34 from the prior reading of -33.  In U.S. news, data released today saw revised Q4 gross domestic product print at +5.6% from the prior reading of +5.9% while the GDP price index ticked higher to +0.5% from +0.4%.  Also, the Q4 core personal consumption expenditures index increased 1.8% q/q from the prior reading of +1.6% q/q.  Final March University of Michigan consumer sentiment printed at 73.6, up from the prior reading of 72.5.  Personal income and spending data and PCE numbers will be released on Monday.  Traders are paying very close attention to rising U.S. Treasury yields.  The 10-year Note is now yielding right around the 3.90% level and some economists believe the rate will move significantly higher to the 4.30% level.  The Federal Reserve will continue to normalize monetary policy in the coming quarters.  Fed Chairman Bernanke yesterday reported “restoring the size and composition” of the Fed’s record US$ 2.32 trillion balance sheet to a “more normal configuration” is a long-term policy goal.  Similarly, St. Louis Fed President Bullard added “We want to someday get back to a pre-crisis balance sheet – both the size of it and the fact that it would be an all-Treasuries balance sheet.” 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 ¥92.80 level and was supported around the ¥92.30 level.  Data released in Japan overnight reinforced the view that deflation remains a serious problem in Japan.  First, Tokyo-area headline consumer price inflation was off 1.8% y/y with the ex-food and energy component off 1.2% y/y.  Second, nationwide consumer price inflation at the headline level was off 1.1% y/y and off 1.1% y/y at the ex-food and energy core level.  These data suggest deflation will remain a problem in Japan through 2011.  Bank of Japan’s Policy Board is likely to keep a very accommodative monetary policy for several more business quarters.  New Policy Board member Miyao reported “Lowering interest rates even a little bit, or keeping interest rates at very low levels amid a recovery, may be able to provide more stimulus and help sustain economic growth…it is important for the central bank to maintain its accommodative policy stance and provide monetary support for companies and households…the economy has been picking up recently, but incomes and employment remain in a severe state, and there are various risks and uncertainties to the outlook.”  The three-month euroyen futures rate is trading around 0.439% with the December 2010 rate currently trading at 0.380%, evidencing a lower market bias on interest rates through the end of the year.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.55% to close at ¥10,996.37.  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 ¥124.15 level and was supported around the ¥122.95 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥137.95 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥86.80 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar depreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8270 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 6.8271. China announced it will launch stock index futures trading from 16 April on the CSI 300 Index.  Traders are focusing on a report from the U.S. due on 15 April that may possibly label China as a currency manipulator.  Some observers suggest a major trade war might develop if China is labeled a currency manipulator by the Obama administration.  People’s Bank of China advisor Fan Gang said the central bank may adopt a managed float of the yuan currency.

The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.4890 level and was supported around the $1.4805 level.  Data released in the U.K. today saw Q4 total business investment off 4.3% q/q and 23.5% y/y.  Chancellor of the Exchequer Darling this week reported his latest economic growth forecast is “in line with the Bank of England forecast.”  Darling said he plans to “reduce borrowing further” and reduced his budget deficit forecast for the next five fiscal years by £44 billion.  On the whole, Darling’s fiscal report was more proactive than expected about addressing the U.K.’s fiscal problems.  The U.K.’s 2009-2010 budget deficit is expected to total around £167 billion and be slightly less in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.4455 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.9025 level and was supported around the £0.8955 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0675 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0745 level.  The Swiss KOF Research Institute upgraded its 2010 and 2011 economic growth forecasts for the Swiss economy today to 1.7% and 2.2%, respectively. Consumer price inflation is expected to be around 0.9% and 1.0%, respectively – also an upgrade from previous forecasts.  Swiss President Leuthard yesterday said the franc is “at a quite crucial level” and said it is up to the Swiss National Bank to decide whether to intervene.  Swiss National Bank Vice Chairman Jordan reiterated this week that the central bank will work to prevent excessive franc appreciation.  Swiss National Bank President Hildebrand this week 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 this week and noted it will continue to “act decisively” to prevent an “excessive” appreciation of the franc.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1180 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.4310 level while the British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.5825 level.


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