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Monday March 21, 2005 - 15:34:02 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (21 March 2005)

The euro depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$1.3170 level, its lowest level since 4 March. The common currency was given from Australasian dealing and was unable to get above the $1.3315 level, hitting stops below the $1.3280/35 levels and later below the technical support around the $1.3215 level. Dealers moved into dollars for a couple of reasons. First, traders are speculating that the Federal Open Market Committee may omit the word “measured” in its policy statement tomorrow following tomorrow’s monetary policy meeting. The possible implication involves the Fed become more hawkish with regard to its interest rate policies. Inflation has been creeping into the U.S. economy as evidenced by core personal consumption expenditure price pressures thus policymakers may want to head them off at the impasse. Working against this school of thought are inflated commodity prices – including oil – that are probably keeping final private demand lower than it normally would be absent these pressures. The opposing school of thought suggests Fed policymakers will not begin to move more aggressively because the bond market has sold off appreciably between FOMC meetings and the 10-year Treasury is now yielding more than 4.50%. Second, traders sold dollars during European dealing in reaction to a deal reached yesterday by Ecofin finance ministers that reforms the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact. One school of thought suggests any tinkering with the Pact is a net negative for the euro because it undermines the Maastricht fiscal regulations that defined Economic and Monetary Union. Furthermore, reform of the Pact is likely to lead to tension between EMU-12 finance ministers and the European Central Bank, the latter of which will issue a statement on this issue today. The other school of thought suggests reform of the Pact may be euro-supportive because it may afford eurozone countries with wiggle-room to positively adjust to business cycles. Third, the dollar moved higher as there is a general perception that traders are focusing more on cyclical growth issues in the U.S. than the U.S.’s mammoth deficits and fiscal imbalances. ECB member Mersch today said any inflation threat will affect monetary policy decisions, a clear increase in ECB interest rate rhetoric. News that Central Bank of the Russian Federation increased the euro’s share of its composition of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves from 10% to 20% at the expense of the U.S. dollar did little to stem the pair’s sell-off. Germany today reaffirmed its 2005 budget deficit to GDP target of 2.9%; Germany has breached the 3.0% ceiling target for three consecutive years. Bank of France Governor Noyer spoke in Hongkong today and said the euro is not hindering global financial markets, adding its helped to stabilize global exchange rate regimes and is now the world’s second most popular reserve currency. Data released in the eurozone today saw Italian unemployment print at 8.0% in Q4, unchanged from Q3. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3085 level.


The yen weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.50 level and was supported around the ¥104.65 level. Today’s high represented the pair’s highest level since 4 March and the dollar looked poised to test technical resistance around the Y105.55/60 level. Stops were triggered above the ¥105.30 level during the move higher. There was very little fresh news out of Japan overnight. Japan’s fiscal year-end is 31 March and immediately thereafter, a new law will go into effect that eliminates the blanket guarantee on Japanese depositors’ accounts, reducing it to ¥10 million per account. Japanese consumer price inflation data will be released on Friday and are expected to evidence continued deflationary pressures in Japan. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.89% to close at ¥11,879.81. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥105.60/ ¥106.75 levels. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.80 level and was capped around the ¥139.50 level. Euro bids are cited around the ¥138.50 level and euro offers are seen around the ¥139.60/ 80 levels. The British pound moved sharply lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥199.80 level and was capped around the ¥201.20 level. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China Vice Governor Wu said the central bank will utilize monetary policy tools to keep CPI growth within the 4% target in 2005, below 2004’s official growth rate of 3.9%. PBOC Governor Zhou highlighted some market-oriented reforms today, saying “banks should learn to determine the price of funds for deposits and lending.” This pertains to the central bank’s plan to reform the interest rate market. The Chinese media today reported that China’s GDP is set to grow 8% per annum as set forth in the next five-year plan. European Central Bank member Noyer today said Chinese yuan reform should be “gradual.”

The British pound plummeted vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8965 level, its lowest level since 22 February. Sterling was capped around the $1.9205 level and stops were hit below the $1.9120/ $1.9005 technical support levels. Sterling was weaker on all of its major crosses and was the main driver lower. Minor data released overnight saw report that March residential asking prices rose 0.6% m/m, down from February’s 2.3% gain but stll just below the July 2004 record of an average ₤194,962. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8910 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6950 level and was supported around the ₤0.6905 level.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1785 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1640 level. This represented the highest level since 4 March and stops were hit above the CHF 1.1755/70 levels. Data released in Switzerland today saw industrial orders rise 5.6% y/y in Q4 and output rose 4.7%. Swiss National Bank announced its decision to keep interest rates unchanged. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1840 level. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.1530 level while the British pound tested bids around the CHF 2.2325 level.


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