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Friday September 17, 2010 - 22:00:25 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 September 2010)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3020 level and was capped around the $1.3160 level.  Dealers reduced long euro exposure as sovereign credit concerns worsened in the eurozone overnight on fresh news regarding Ireland’s fiscal problems.  Yields on Irish credit default swaps widened to record levels as traders speculated major banking losses might result in a call for Irish assistance from the European Union or the International Monetary Fund.  Irish finance minister Lenihan said the increase in government bond yields is “normal” and said a critical Barclays report “said that the government was taking the right steps at the right time.”  Some dealers believe the Irish treasury has enough near-term liquidity to weather the storm while others believe external financial assistance will eventually be required.  Ireland has injected €22.9 billion into Anglo Irish, a bank that was nationalized in 2009, and there is speculation this number could rise to €35 billion.  Data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-16 current account balance increase to €3.7 billion in July while EMU-16 July construction output was off 3.1% m/m and 7.5% y/y.  German August producer prices were up 0.0% m/m and 3.2% y/y.  Germany’s IG Metall reported wage negotiations have failed and it is considering a strike.  European Central Bank member Mersch said the eurozone bond-buying program should not be ended too soon and said interest rates are “still appropriate.”  ECB member Weber called for “much tougher” fiscal rules across Europe.  In U.S. news, data released today saw August consumer price inflation up 0.3% m/m amd 1.1% y/y, in-line with expectations, while core CPI was up 0.0% m/m and 0.9% y/y.  These data underscore the lack of price pressures in the U.S. economy.  Other data released today saw a surprising downturn in mid-September University of Michigan consumer sentiment to 66.6 from the prior reading of 68.9.  The Federal Open Market Committee convenes next week and is expected to keep monetary policy unchanged.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2995 level. 

 

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥85.65 level and was capped around the ¥85.95 level.  The yen was confined to a relatively tight range as traders were loath to push it lower following the government’s decision to conduct a major yen-selling intervention this week.  At the same time, dealers were reluctant to sell the yen too much because sovereign credit woes intensified overnight on the Irish story and following concerns about other benchmark debt.  Some estimates suggest Japan may have sold as much as ¥1.86 trillion this week and if so, this would exceed the previous estimated record of ¥1.66 trillion from 9 January 2004.  The Ministry of Finance will confirm on 30 September how much it expended on intervention.  Finance minister Noda today said “our economy is in a severe situation and it’s undesirable that the strong yen be prolonged.  I think it’s important to explain that persistently to other nations.”  There was also talk that the intervention would remain unsterilized in Japanese money markets, serving as a de facto monetary easing.  Now that the government has decided to intervene again, its options for additional economic stimulus remain limited given Japan’s bloated financial deficits and an interest rate policy that is already near zero per cent.  Furthermore, the BoJ’s ability to purchase additional Japanese government bonds may already be limited by the amount of national debt on its balance sheet from existing Japanese government bond purchases.  Some traders believe Japan’s interventions, if continued, will remain unilateral because other countries are trying to supplement weak domestic consumption with an improved foreign trade position resulting from weakness in their own currencies.  The Obama administration appears unlikely to join any yen-selling intervention at current levels.  U.S. Congressional leaders this week called Japan’s intervention “deeply disturbing” and said it violated international accords.  Data released in Japan overnight saw August Nationwide department sales off 3.2% y/y while August Tokyo-area department store sales were off 3.4% y/y.   Others believe the central bank’s intervention success will be limited and that the dollar will move lower to test lifetime lows below the psychologically-important ¥80 level.  The Japanese intervention could also precipitate a round of intervention throughout Asian countries, especially in South Korea where the won moved lower on speculation the government may sell won to support the export sector.  The won has gained about 3.2% in September vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar.  Bank of Japan Governor Shirakawa this week reiterated the central bank is monitoring downside risks to the economy and said Japanese export activity has reached a plateau.  Democratic Party of Japan officials are urging the central bank to convene another emergency meeting now to enact additional easing measures by buying more JGBs.  The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.23% to close at ¥9,626.09.  U.S. dollar bids are cited around the ¥84.60 level.   The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥111.60 level and was capped around the ¥112.95 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥135.05 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥85.05 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar was unchanged vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.7250 in the over-the-counter market.  The China Banking Regulatory Commission noted it will publish an “overall framework and road map” for bank capital requirements at an “appropriate time.”  CBRC also reported new global capital accord revisions will have a “limited impact” on China. 

 

£

The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.5730 level and was supported around the US$ 1.5595 level.  Data released in the U.K. this week saw August retail sales defy expectations by dropping 0.5% m/m and climbing 0.4% y/y, considerably lower than expectations and July’s readings.  Core readings were also lighter-than-expected and these data suggest final private demand in the U.K. may be waning.  Other data saw the CBI September total orders index decline to -17 from the prior reading of -14.  Bank of England and GfK reported their one-year inflation expectations survey is now evidencing higher inflation expectations.  BoE Governor King spoke this week and acknowledged the bank made mistakes that led to the financial crisis, adding the economic recovery “will not be straight.”  Monetary Policy Committee member Posen reported the central bank’s secondary plan should be private asset purchases.   Data to be released early Monday include Rightmove September house prices.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5115 level.  The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.8330 level and was capped around the £0.8380 level.

 

CHF

The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0065 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0180 level.  Data released in Switzerland yesterday saw Q2 industrial production up 5.7% q/q and 7.8% y/y.  As expected, Swiss National Bank kept its three-month franc Libor target rate unchanged at 0.25%. SNB Chairman Hildebrand reported the economy is expected to “slow” in the second half of the year.  As expected, the Swiss government this week raised its economic growth forecast for this year and now sees GDP growth of 2.7% in 2010, up from the previous forecast of 1.8% from June.  The government also sees 2011 GDP growth of 1.2%, down from the previous forecast of 1.6%.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0290 level.  The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.3140 level while the British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.5765 level.

 

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