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Friday March 11, 2005 - 15:42:43 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (11 March 2005)

The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$1.3480 level following the release of the heavily-anticipated January U.S. trade deficit number. The U.S.’s trade imbalance expanded 4.5% in January to US$ 58.3 billion, the second worst tally on record. Imports climbed 1.9% to US$ 159.1 billion while exports were up 0.4% to a record $100.8 billion. January’s total was worse-than-expected but December’s trade gap was downwardly revised to –US$ 55.7 billion from -$56.4 billion. The U.S.’s 2004 trade deficit amounted to 5.3% of GDP, or US$ 617.1 billion. Notably, imports from China rose 1.9% m/m in January to US$ 17.9 billion. One factor that prevented the number from being worse was an 8% decline in the value of imported crude, as the average price fell to $35.35 per barrel. Traders await next week’s U.S. current account deficit data and Treasury International Capital (TIC) data on Tuesday to see if the U.S. entirely counterbalanced its January trade deficit with international portfolio inflows. Price activity in the wake of the trade number was quite volatile as the pair moved to intraday highs but quickly backed off to the $1.3395 level before resuming its upward ascent. Reserve Bank of India Governor Reddy was today quoted as saying his central bank is discussing diversification of its US$ 135.66 billion in foreign exchange reserves. Reddy added all central banks are also considering diversification of foreign exchange reserves, echoing comments from Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi yesterday. Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan spoke in New York last night and reiterated that foreign investors may reduce their holdings of U.S. assets at some point in time, noting there has been a “modest” shift thus far. Greenspan added he is not “overly” worried about the current account deficit but characterized the fiscal deficit as a “significant obstacle.” Speaking about U.S. house prices, Greenspan said a “
destabilizing contraction in nationwide housing prices does not seem the most probable outcome.” Data released in the eurozone today saw final 2004 GDP up 1.2% y/y. Also, final German February HICP was upwardly revised to +0.4% m/m and renders it a possibility that EMU-12 HICP will be upwardly revised to 2.0% y/y. Additional data saw France’s January trade deficit at €931 million. European Central Bank member Issing today said the ECB will tighten monetary policy “if necessary” if growth in the money supply precipitates inflation. This follows similar comments from ECB President Trichet and ECB member Wellink. In other eurozone news, German Chancellor Schroeder is said to be preparing a multi-billion-euro fiscal package to revive the weak German economy. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3410/ $1.3365 levels.


The yen gained modest ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥103.75 level and was capped around the ¥104.30 level. Technically, the pair continues to trade between technical resistance around the ¥104.25 level and technical support around the ¥103.65 level – levels related to the pair’s recent ¥101.65/ ¥106.85 range. Finance minister Tanigaki sought to mitigate the effects from Prime Minister Koizumi’s dollar-negative comments yesterday about reserves diversification by saying Japan “must be careful” when commenting on its foreign exchange reserves policy. Data released in Japan today saw the February consumer confidence index improve to 47.6 from 47.4 in January. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.50% to close at ¥11,923.89. Options traders cite large maturities at ¥104.00 and ¥104.50 at 1500 GMT today. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥104.30/40/50 levels with larger selling pressure expected around the ¥105.00 figure. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥139.40 level and was capped just ahead of the psychologically-important ¥140.00 figure, a reported options barrier. Stops are cited above the ¥140.10 level with additional offers expected around the ¥140.30 level. Despite today’s pullback, the cross is up more than one yen in March. The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥199.55 level and was capped around the ¥200.45 level. Sterling bids are cited around the ¥199.15/ ¥198.30 levels. In Chinese news, traders reported strong rumours overnight that China would be raising interest rates imminently, possibly even today. Interestingly, Lehman Brothers today reported China converted a sizable 6% of its foreign exchange reserves from U.S. dollars to euros last year. At the end of 2004, China’s foreign reserves were reported at US$ 609.9 billion. State Administration of Foreign Exchange head Guo today issued a warning against “hot money” inflows into China, saying “great attention” is required for “speculative funds.” Data released in China today saw the February consumer prices index rise 3.9% y/y, up from January’s 1.9% climb.

The British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9290 level and was supported around the $1.9165 level. Sterling moved to intraday highs following the release of the worse-than-expected U.S. trade deficit data but quickly came off to the $1.9205 level before resuming its march higher. The move lower during early European dealing to daily lows was said to be linked to stop-hunting in cable and the sterling/ yen cross. Technically, today’s daily low coincided with a 76.4% retracement of this week’s gains. Cable bids are cited around the $1.9215 level. The euro was little-changed vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6995 level and was supported around the ₤0.6965 level. Euro offers are cited around the ₤0.7005 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1485 level, its lowest level since 4 February and the pair’s first print with a CHF 1.14 handle since then. Significant stops were hit below the CHF 1.1515 level during the move lower. Data released in Switzerland today saw January retail sales decline 3.1% y/y. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1620/ 55 levels. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5510 level while the British pound came off and tested bids around the CHF 2.2130 level.


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