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Tuesday April 19, 2005 - 12:51:12 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (19 April 2005)



The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency gave back some of yesterday’s strong gains, testing bids around the $1.2980 level in the process. The pair failed to get above the $1.3035 level during Australasian dealing and came off during European dealing to the 38.2% retracement level of the move from $1.2875 to $1.3045. Relatively weak eurozone economic data contributed to the move lower as it was reported the ZEW German April expectations index fell to +20.1 from +36.3 in March, below expectations of a 32.5 print. Other data saw EMU-12 industrial output recede by 0.5% m/m in February and gain 0.6% y/y. The annualized gain was around half of what was expected. It was also reported that German March PPI was up 0.6% m/m and 4.2% y/y while France’s current account balance narrowed to -€600 million in February from -€2.2 billion in January. These data underscore the fragility of some aspects of the eurozone’s economy and spotlight the cyclical differences between the eurozone and U.S. economies. Incoming European Central Bank member Bini Smaghi today said the eurozone economy “is not growing sufficiently” and cited “low economic confidence” as a primary reason for the “disappointing growth.” Fed Governor Bies spoke twice yesterday and said Fed policymakers must remain “alert” despite relatively low underlying inflation levels. She didn’t, however, say much to suggest the Fed will discontinue its current “measured” pace of tightening. Fed funds futures now suggest the Federal Open Market Committee will tighten policy in May and June before pausing in August. Traders are now pricing in around 100bps of additional Fed tightening this year, down 25-50bps from market estimates about one month ago. Data released in the U.S. today saw the March headline producer price index up +0.7% while the ex-food and energy “core” rate was up a mere +0.1%. The annualized headline print came in at +4.9% y/y while the core rate was up 2.6% y/y and there were no revisions to February’s numbers. Other data released today saw March housing starts fall a staggering 17.6% to 1.83 million units – much weaker than expected – while building permits also fell. These data suggest the Fed’s continued monetary tightenings are slowing the new housing sector. Euro bids are seen around the $1.2980/ 50 levels while euro offers are seen around the $1.3015 level.

¥

The yen gained modest ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥107.05 level and was capped around the ¥107.50 level. The pair reached its lowest level since 1 April but shied away from testing bids around the ¥106.90 level, the 38.2% retracement level of the move from ¥103.65 to ¥108.90. Data released in Japan overnight saw the February leading index downwardly revised to 18.2 from a preliminary 20.0 reading. Also, NLF reported that business sentiment among small Japanese firms declined last month. Traders continue to monitor events in China where anti-Japan sentiment has reached a fevered pitch. Some market participants have reduced exposure to yen on account of the massive demonstrations being lobbied in China. Technically, the dollar also failed to test offers around the ¥107.65 level and appears poised to attain a lower daily close for the seventh time in eight sessions. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.16% to close at ¥11,065.86. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥139.40 level and was capped right at the psychologically-important ¥140.00 figure. The cross continues to orbit the ¥139.50 level, the 76.4% retracement level of the move from ¥141.60 to ¥132.90. In Chinese news, European Central Bank member Tumpel-Gugerell criticized China by saying it is “currently playing a fundamental role in both the accumulation and financing of global external imbalances, and is considered equally important in view of the adjustment of such imbalances.” She also added the eurozone’s competitiveness could be threatened by China’s export strength.



The British pound showed new signs of vitality vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9125 level, its strongest print since 21 March. Technically, sterling tested offers at the 76.4% retracement level of the move from $1.9295 to $1.8590 and remained supported above the $1.8945 level, a bullish sign. The big news in the U.K. today was a surprising surge in the March consumer price index to seven-year highs as retail inflation spiked 0.4% m/m and 1.9% y/y. The annualized rate was the highest increase since May 1998 and these data suggest Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee may raise interest rates as early as May to deter these reported inflation pressures. The MPC has not tightened policy since August 2004 but had raised rates five times between November 2003 and August 2004. On the flip side of the coin, one month of data does not an inflation spell make and the inclination to raise rates will be tempered by less-than-robust consumption and final private demand in the U.K. Similarly, RICS reported U.K. house prices fell for the eight consecutive month in March. Cable bids are cited around the $1.9025 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6795 level and was capped around the ₤0.6845 level.

CHF

The Swiss franc was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1855 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1905 level. The pair stopped just short of testing key technical support around the CHF 1.1835 level for the second consecutive day but dollar bulls were unable to move the pair above the CHF 1.1920 level, a bearish sign. Some dealers are wondering if a stabilization of oil prices below the $50.00 per barrel level will result in less demand for the safe-haven Swiss franc. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1925 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5435 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5480 level.

 

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