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Wednesday April 13, 2005 - 15:22:58 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (13 April 2005)

The euro was unable to sustain gains above the US$ 1.2900 figure today as the single currency tested offers around the $1.2955 level and before plummeting to the $1.2850 level. Australasian dealers lifted the pair overnight on softer-than-expected Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes from policymakers’ 22 March interest rate deliberations. Fed officials noted that “while short-term inflation expectations had risen somewhat, longer-term inflation expectations remained well-contained.” Additionally, Fed policymakers did not discuss removal of the word “measured” from their policy statement, disappointing dollar bulls who anticipated a more hawkish bent to the Fed’s policy assessment. The FOMC will next convene on 3 May. Many traders were surprised by the dollar’s reaction to disappointing March U.S. retail sales data released today that saw a smaller-than-expected +0.3% pick-up in headline activity, principally on account of weaker department store and clothing sales. A headline gain of 0.7% was expected. The ex-autos component saw a mere 0.1% gain, the lowest reading since April 2004, defying expectations of a 0.5% gain. On a positive note, February’s ex-autos number was upwardly revised from +0.4% to +0.6%. The dollar’s reaction to these less-than-stellar data mirrored yesterday’s reaction to February’s trade deficit numbers. Traders initially sold dollars only to buy them back. Many dealers believe this evidences the market’s preoccupation with cyclical growth factors over the U.S.’s structural imbalances. Friday’s Treasury International Capital (TIC) data will be scrutinized to see if there were sufficient international portfolio inflows into the U.S. in February to cover its trade deficit. In eurozone news, French March CPI was up 0.6% and 1.9% y/y in February and Bundesbank’s Remsperger said he sees German growth at 1% in 2005 after stronger-than-expected gains in Q1. Option traders cite a $1.2970 run-off at 1400 GMT today. Euro offers are seen around the $1.2960 level.


The yen gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥107.15 level before staging a recovery back to the ¥107.50 level. The pair moved to its lowest levels of the day after the release of weak U.S. retail sales data but bottom-hunters quickly to the pair higher. Australasian dealers were unable to move the pair above the ¥107.85 level, a key technical level related to the recent ¥108.85 - ¥107.50 range. Data released in Japan overnight saw the March corporate goods price index rise 0.3% m/m and 1.4% y/y. The government maintained its economic assessment in April for the fourth consecutive month and reported the economy continues to struggle to regain the momentum it had in H2 2003 and Q1 2004. Additionally, the government reported “exports are weakening and industrial production is leveling off” but notably upgraded its assessment of consumer spending, saying it is “showing movements of a pickup.” Similarly, the government reported an improvement in wage earners’ real incomes and consumer confidence. These sectors the government has highlighted as improving are vital to the Japanese economy. Improvements in final private demand and consumption are important as Japan tries to emerge from a multi-year battle with deflation that Bank of Japan’s monetary policy has largely been unable to counter. An MoF official today reiterated that oil prices will feature prominently at this week’s G7 meeting of central bankers and finance ministers but added foreign exchange is unlikely to be a major issue. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.28% to close at ¥11,637.52. Option traders cite a large ¥107.50 maturity at 1400 GMT today. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥106.90 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.30 level and was capped around the ¥139.30 level. In Chinese news, Premier Wen reiterated that “hot money” is not welcome in China and added speculators will not profit.

The British pound failed to sustain its gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8950/ 55 level and was supported around the $1.8870 level. Weaker-than-expected labour market data contributed to cable’s move lower today as it reduced expectations that Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will tighten policy in May. It was reported that average earnings, excluding bonuses, rose 4.3% in the three months to February, down 0.1% from last month’s print. Also, the claimant count of unemployment rose 11,000 to 828,700, above expectations of a small decline, while February’s tally was revised from a decline of 700 to an increase of 3,900. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 2.7% and the March claimant count rise was the largest since May 2003. The ILO measure of unemployment signaled a 29,000 increase in the jobless rate in the three months to February. Prime Minister Blair, who is facing a tough general election battle next month, pledged to not raise key elements of the income tax. Option traders cite a $1.8950 expiry at 1400 GMT today. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8860 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6805 level and was capped around the ₤0.6840 level. Stops are seen below the ₤0.6800 figure.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2070 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1945 level. Technically, the CHF 1.2010 remains an important retracement level and the pair today orbited other technical levels around the CHF 1.2040 and CHF 1.1980 levels. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.1945 level. The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5520 level.


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