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Tuesday March 29, 2005 - 15:15:04 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (29 March 2005)

The euro retraced most of its intraday gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as dollar bulls capped the single currency’s advances around the US$ 1.2955 level. The pair printed as low as the $1.2875 level before consolidating around the 76.4% retracement (1.2905) of the move from $1.2730 to $1.3480. Dealers on the Continent and in London returned to their desks today following yesterday’s holiday and liquidity levels are back to normal. Many traders, however, will remain on the sidelines ahead of the U.S.’s March non-farm payrolls report scheduled for release on Friday. Estimates have the U.S. economy adding 220,000 new jobs last month whereas the economy created 262,000 new jobs in February, the largest gain in four months. Still, the U.S. dollar crumbled on that news because the whisper numbers predicted a stronger print. The dollar has been on the offensive for about a week now as traders have reacted positively to the increase in hawkish rhetoric from the Federal Reserve following last week’s 25bps rate hike in the federal funds target rate. Most Fed watchers believe the Fed will continue to tighten monetary policy through the end of the year and possibly adjust rates by 50bps at an upcoming meeting. The bond market has been reacting similarly as the ten-year U.S. Treasury note is now yielding 4.60%. Traders will also pay close attention to this week’s personal consumption expenditures measure of inflation in the U.S. as the Fed expressed concern with the recent pick-up in cost pressures. Data released in the U.S. today saw March consumer confidence print at 102.4, down from 104.4 in February. Data released in the eurozone today saw the French March business climate indicator print at 101, compared with 104 in February while French February PPI gained 0.3% m/m, below estimates. Options traders cite a large $1.2925 maturity at 1500 GMT today. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2955/ 60 levels with additional selling pressure seen around the $1.3000/ 15 levels.


The yen extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers just below the ¥107.50 level, its strongest print since 22 October 2004. Bids kept the pair supported right around the ¥106.95 level, a bullish indication as it is above the ¥106.75 level – the 50% retracement of the move from ¥111.70 to ¥101.80. Early Australasian dealing saw the pair lifted on account of an 8.7 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra as fears of another tsunami grew. French finance minister Breton and Japanese finance minister Tanigaki expressed “concern” with the dollar’s weakness in Tokyo today, adding they would discuss it with G7 counterparts next month. Data released in Japan today saw February retail sales fall 2.8% y/y while commercial sales were up 1.8% y/y. Other negative data saw February salaried household spending tumble 3.8% y/y, the latest indication that Japanese households are delaying spending decisions on account of deflation. Also, February unemployment printed at 4.7%, up from 4.5% in February. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda downplayed today’s jobless totals saying employment remains in a recovery trend. Dealers cited some dollar-buying ahead of Thursday’s fiscal year-end in Japan as companies square up their books for the year. All eyes are on Friday’s quarterly tankan survey of corporate sentiment. Many forecasts are predicting the Bank of Japan’s report will improve marginally from the last reading. The Nikkei 225 stock index dove 1.63% to close at ¥11,599.82. Options traders cite an option barrier around the ¥107.50 level and there is some chatter that some large ¥107.75 strikes roll off at 1500 GMT today. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥107.90 level. The euro extended gains vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥138.70 level and remained supported around the ¥138.15 level. Chartists note that the cross is trying to build on support around the ¥138.25 level. Euro offers are seen around the ¥139.10/20 levels, above which stops are cited. The British pound and Swiss franc also appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥201.25 level and the Swiss franc tested offers around the ¥89.40 level. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou today said the central bank’s target for liberalizing interest rates has been achieved and reiterated there will not be any rate moves in the near future. China’s State Information Center today predicted China’s economy will expand 8.8% y/y in Q1, off some 0.7% from the pace of Q4 2004. Data released in China today saw its foreign exchange reserves up US$ 32.7 billion in the first two months of 2005 to US$ 642.6 billion. Morgan Stanley released a report today that predicts Chinese trade will account for one-third of Japan’s total trade levels, up from the current level of one-fifth.

The British pound retraced some recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8755 level and remained supported around the $1.8650 level, the 50%retracement of the move from $1.7745 to $1.9550. Data released in the U.K. today saw pay settlements rise at their strongest rate in six years as IRS reported paw awards were up 3.3% q/q in February. Other data released today saw BBA net mortgage lending for February revised to ₤4.8 billion, up ₤0.6 billion from January. Mortgage approvals were also higher than January’s tally. BBA also reported that overall net consumer credit weakened to ₤0.7 billion last month. Notably, retail spending in the three months to February came off 0.6% m/m, the lowest rate since March 2003. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.8760 level with additional selling pressure seen around the $1.8855 level. The euro weakened modestly vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6885 level and was capped around the ₤0.6925 level.


The Swiss franc retraced early gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1975 level but then challenged bids around the CHF 1.2055 level. Technically, the CHF 1.2030 level represents the 23.6% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1285 to CHF 1.2260. Today’s daily low coincided with the 50% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2660 to $1.1285. The Swiss March KOF leading indicator will be released tomorrow. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2140 level. The euro and British pound also gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc, respectively testing offers around the CHF 1.5550 and CHF 2.2565 levels.


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