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Monday March 14, 2005 - 14:55:18 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (14 March 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3365 level, a support level related to its recent $1.3175/ $1.3480 range. Stops were hit below the $1.3410 level, another area of technical support, and U.S. dealers were unable to lift the pair above the $1.3400 figure during a brief rally. The outlook for the U.S. dollar is little-changed since last week when investors sold dollars ahead of Friday’s U.S. January trade deficit number. This selling activity pushed the euro to multi-week highs and the current retracement may simply be profit-taking ahead of tomorrow’s Treasury International Capital (TIC) data. The TIC data will show if the U.S. was successfully in bridging its trade deficit in the beginning of the year with international portfolio inflows. Current account data will be released on Wednesday and will provide a more complete snapshot of the U.S.’s economic and financial imbalances. It is estimated that the Q4 current account deficit may have surpassed US$ 180 billion, up from around US$ 165 billion in Q3. The dollar has been intermittently supported by positive interest rate differentials between the U.S. dollar and the euro in 2005. Traders await testimony from European Central Bank President Trichet this afternoon to learn if the central bank is any closer to tightening rates. Data released in the eurozone today saw Q4 construction sector output off 0.3% q/q and down 1.0% y/y. ECB member Tumpel-Gugerell on Friday spoke on Saturday and urged European Union entrants to trim their budget deficits. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3330 level.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥104.90 level, a technical resistance level related to its recent ¥101.70/ 106.85 range. The pair opened marginally lower during Australasian data, testing bids around the ¥103.70 level before reversing course. Many Japanese economic data were released overnight including a surprise upward revision to October – December GDP data that saw Japan’s economy expand 0.1%, up from earlier reports of a 0.1% contraction. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda, however, said Japan may not reach its economic growth target for the fiscal year to March 2005. Other data released overnight saw the January current account surplus recede 28.2% y/y to ¥774.9 billion while January industrial output was upwardly revised from 2.1% to 2.5%. Additionally, February corporate failures were down 12.6% y/y while February bankruptcies were down 12.5% y/y. Traders seized upon the reduction in the current account surplus and a downward revision to the GDP deflator to -0.4% from -0.3% as a signal that deflation remains public enemy number one in the Japanese economy and sold yen as a result. Furthermore, an increase in inventories was cited as the main contributor to the uptick in GDP growth and this could evidence slacking final private demand. Against this backdrop of mixed weak economic data, the Nikkei is reporting Bank of Japan may upwardly revise its economic assessment for the first time in nine months this month, mostly on account of an improvement in industrial production. BoJ’s report is scheduled for released on Wednesday and elevated oil prices are likely to receive prominent mention as an economic risk factor. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.62% to close at ¥11,850.25. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥105.55 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥140.70 level and was supported around the ¥139.70 level. An option knock-out around the ¥140.50 level is said to have pushed the cross higher during Australasian dealing. The British pound rallied vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥201.40 level. In Chinese news, Premier Wen Jiabao said his country is working on plans to increase exchange rate flexibility but said these changes could come as a “surprise.” This is a sensitive topic because the U.S. Congress on Friday announced it is investigate China’s current account surplus data to see if there is any proof China is unfairly manipulating its currency. Wen also said the government cannot now relax macroeconomic controls given because China is “half way there” in attaining its desired economic adjustment. Data released in China overnight saw foreign direct investment rise 6.15% y/y to US$ 20.05 billion in January and February. State Administration of Foreign Exchange director Guo Shuqing today said China may utilize some of its massive foreign exchange reserves to purchase oil. Guo also China needs to adopt a trading band for its yuan currency “that can be accepted by everyone.” Bank of Taiwan made news today when it said it is ready to intervene to stem “irrational” factors from affecting FX rates.

The British pound moved sharply lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9140 level, its lowest level in nearly a week. Sterling was unable to make much headway above the $1.9300 figure and chartists note five consecutive days with lower highs. Data released in the U.K. today saw February output prices up 0.4% m/m and 2.8% y/y while core producer prices were up +0.3% m/m and +2.7% y/y. February input prices climbed +0.1% m/m and +10.7% y/y. The rise in output prices was more-than-expected while the rise in input prices was generally less-than-expected. Most economists believe factory gate prices will continue to pose an upward risk to inflation expectations, a conclusion reached in the Bank of England’s quarterly Inflation Report that was released last month. Other data released overnight saw the ODPM annual house price inflation index print at 10.0%, off from 10.7% in December. Lehman Brothers today issued a report that suggests U.K. house prices are 20% overvalued and predicts a downturn in U.K. interest rates by the end of 2006. BoE MPC member Lambert last night said there is no mechanical link between the inflation forecast and the MPC’s monetary policy decisions. Lambert’s comments echo similar comments from MPC’s Lomax this weekend. Lambert also dovishly suggested there could be circumstances in which the MPC would permit inflation “stray” above the 2.0% target for a while to “allow the economy some extra time to get back into balance.” Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown will deliver his budget statement on Wednesday. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9030 level. The euro was little changed vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6970 level and was capped around the ₤0.6995 level.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1605 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1480 level. Before staging an intraday recovery, the pair briefly traded at its lowest level since 4 January. Stops were triggered above the CHF 1.1565 level and North American dealers attacked the CHF 1.1600 figure shortly thereafter. Swiss National Bank is likely to release its quarterly interest rate decision on Thursday and some traders expect Swiss National Bank President Roth to speak later in the week. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1620 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5520 level while the British pound tested offers around the CHF 2.2255 level.


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