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Wednesday May 19, 2010 - 17:21:47 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (19 May 2010)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2365 level and was supported around the $1.2140 level.  One catalyst for the move higher was a rumour – later denied by the Greek government – that Greece was considering leaving the European Union and the eurozone.  Even though Greece only accounts for 2% to 3% of economic output in the European Union, its bailout package represents a considerably higher and disproportionate share of the total financial assistance package that has been announced by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.  Most traders believe the expulsion or removal of a eurozone country would precipitate a run on the euro as confidence and sentiment would be badly damaged.  Many dealers are struggling to reconcile why the euro moved higher in the face of the Greek rumour but technicians note that the common currency is significantly oversold and with sentiment so poor, the slightest positive news or data can engender a move higher by the common currency.  Another reason being cited for the euro’s rise is a market rumour that the European Central Bank may intervene and purchase euro whereas some traders are indicating Swiss National Bank sold francs for euro today.   Also, the common currency gained ground on a plea from ECB member and Bundesbank President Weber that Germany’s parliament approve Germany’s contribution to the European Union rescue fund.  ECB member Bini-Smaghi said EMU-16 inflation expectations remain well-anchored and added the ECB will “not bail out states.” IMF official Lipsky reported the euro is “near equilibrium” and its level is not a problem.  Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-16 March construction output up 7.6% m/m and off 5.2% y/y.  In U.S. news, U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner was on the tape yesterday and reported the U.S.’s economic recovery is “much stronger than expected” and said the European Union has the capacity to manage its challenges.  Data released in the U.S. today saw MBA mortgage applications off 1.5% with the April headline consumer price index off 0.1% m/m and up 2.2% y/y. The ex-food and energy core CPI rate was up 0.0% m/m and 0.9% y/y.  U.S. equities reacted negatively to news that MBA mortgage foreclosures reached their highest level in years at +10.06% in Q1.  Dealers await the release of Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes later in the North American session.  Former Fed Governor Mishkin called Europe’s fiscal situation “very dangerous” and said the European Union should have “let Greece go and say we are going to ringfence the rest of the system. Ringfence the banks, protect the other countries that have problems such as Portugal, Italy, and Spain, which have not been fiscally irresponsible the way the Greeks have been.” Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2140 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥91.05 level and was capped around the ¥92.20 level.  Former Bank of Japan Policy Board member Mizuno was critical of the central bank’s plans to stimulate lending in certain economic areas saying “The bank is treading a delicate line. The division between fiscal policy and monetary policy, as well as industry-financing policy and monetary policy, should be maintained, even if it’s a small one.”  The International Monetary Fund reported it is “critical” for Japan to adopt a credible debt plan.  First quarter gross domestic product data will be released in Japan tomorrow and most estimates suggest the economy expanded during that time.  Japan has approximately ¥882.9 trillion in debt and a strong print would allow the government some breadth to address this large fiscal imbalance.  Prime Minister Hatoyama is likely to unveil a strategy in June that addresses Japan’s mammoth debt position.  Mizuno also warned that the yen could appreciate further.  Data released in Japan overnight saw March industrial production up 1.2% m/m and 31.8% y/y while March capacity utilization was up 0.6% m/m.  The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.54% to close at ¥10,186.84.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥96.85 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥110.85 level and was capped around the ¥112.90 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥129.70 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥79.15 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8275 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8274.  People’s Bank of China is said to be limiting orders for tomorrow’s three-year bill sale to prevent money-market rates from moving too high.  PBoC also issued a report that indicates they plan to tighten credit.  The report dropped the indication that China will “guide money and credit supply to grow rationally” and changed it to “maintain moderate growth of money and credit supply.”  PBoC adviser Li Daokui reported now is the optimal time to adjust the value of the yuan.  Some traders, however, now believe China will delay its revaluation of the yuan on account of growth concerns in Europe.


The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.4235 level and was capped around the $1.4400 figure.  Bank of England released the minutes from its Monetary Policy Committee meeting in May in which policymakers unanimously agreed to keep its main Bank Rate unchanged at 0.5% and kept its asset purchase facility unchanged at £200 billion.  Data released this week indicated that consumer price inflation has rocketed higher to 3.7% but the central bank sees this spike as temporary.  The minutes, however, revealed a division between some members who are concerned with higher inflation and some members who are more concerned with European credit constraints.  Data to be released in the U.K. tomorrow include April retail sales.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.4110 level.  The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.8585 level and was supported around the £0.8495 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1415 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1530 level.   Swiss National Bank is said to have sold francs for euro today according to some European banks.  Swiss National Bank President Hildebrand this week reported the central bank is “ready to act” against the current strengthening of the franc, noting it is jeopardizing the economic recovery and Swiss price stability.  Hildebrand warned that Europe’s “dramatic” situation is “very difficult” and might worsen, pledging action in a “decisive manner.”  U.S. dollar bids are cited around the US$ 1.1110 level.  The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.4050 level while the British pound lost ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.6340 level.


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