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Friday April 1, 2005 - 15:10:53 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (1 April 2005)

The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3060 level after the release of a weaker-than-expected March U.S. non-farm payrolls report. The U.S. economy added around 110,000 new jobs last month, about half of consensus forecasts and significantly lower than a downwardly revised 243,000 February tally. Some traders downwardly revised their expectations for a stronger number today following yesterday’s surprising +20,000 climb in weekly initial jobless claims. It was also reported today that average hourly earnings gained +0.3% while the unemployment rate moved lower to 5.2%, its best level since September 2001. The wage data was a little stronger than expected but may not worry Federal Reserve policymakers as much following yesterday’s relatively benign February personal consumption expenditures data. Data released later in the U.S. session saw the final March University of Michigan consumer sentiment index print at 92.6, down from February’s final reading of 94.1. Also released was the February construction spending number and it came in +0.4%, less than the +0.6% forecast. Additionally, the March ISM manufacturing index came in at 55.2, just below the 55.3 reading for February. Data released in the eurozone today saw the February unemployment rate at 8.9%, compared with 8.8% in January. The EMU-12 March PMI index printed at 50.4, below February’s 51.9 level and below expectations of a 51.5 print. Germany, France, and Italy all saw m/m declines in their respective PMI indices. Additionally, German retail sales were unchanged m/m in February, exceeding expectations of a downturn. Traders await German manufacturing orders data on Wednesday and industrial output data on Thursday. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.3060 level while euro bids are detected around the $1.2960 level.


The yen approached fresh multi-month lows vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as traders tested offers around the ¥107.60 level, poised to challenge stronger technical resistance seen in the ¥108 handle. The pair’s move higher during Australasian dealing followed the release of a generally disappointing quarterly Bank of Japan tankan survey that underwhelmed yen bulls. It was reported that the March large manufacurers’ diffusion index printed at +14, much less than expected and down from December’s +22 reading, while the large manufacturers’ price conditions index weakened from -6 to -8. The labour market conditions index and large manufacturers’ domestic demand index also worsened. Many market participants believe these data could be the impetus to send the yen significantly lower in these first days of Japan’s new fiscal year. Collectively, these data are the latest evidence that the pullback in the corporate sector is expanding and one of the most commonly cited reasons is the extensive information technology inventory adjustments that Japan is contending with. One bright spot in the report was the all firms’ capital expenditures index that was up 6.9% compared with 6.2% in December. Finance minister Tanigaki downplayed the data, saying “the economy is generally flat” and cited the employment and income situations as improving aspects of the economy. He also added the government probably “doesn’t have to change its judgment of the economy” and later added the economy as a whole “has continued its recovery trend.” Today marks the first day that Japan’s government has stopped insuring all bank deposits and is henceforth imposing a ¥10 million guarantee cap on all accounts. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.47% to close at ¥11,723.63. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥108.30 level. The euro failed to sustain its gains vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency backed away from the ¥139.50 level and tested bids around the ¥138.85 level. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China is said to be launching an investigation in the private lending sector to improve its assessment and implementation of monetary policy.

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8980 level and remained supported around the $1.8855 level. Sterling bulls were unable to push the pair through the psychologically-important US$ 1.9000 figure in the immediate wake of the positive yet less-than-expected March non-farm payrolls number. Data released in the U.K. today saw March CIPS manufacturing PMI print at 52.0, up from February’s 51.8 level. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8870 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6885 level and remained supported around the ₤.6855 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1880 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1985 level. Dollar bulls were unable to follow-through and challenge offers around the CHF 1.2000 figure during Australasian dealing. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1970 level while dollar bids are seen around the CHF 1.1840 level. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today, testing offers around the 1.5535 and 2.2635 levels, respectively.


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