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Wednesday November 17, 2010 - 22:44:35 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 November 2010)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3565 level and was supported around the $1.3460 level.  Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 50.0% retracement level of the $1.2645 – 1.4280 range.  The markets remain focused on Ireland with reports emerging that some European Union countries want to provide as much as €100 billion in financial assistance to Ireland.  Irish finance minister Lenihan reported Ireland “didn’t commit to enter a (bailout) facility, but there are serious market disturbances.”  He added Ireland’s banking problems “jeopardize not just Ireland (but) threaten the eurozone.  So it is essential that we address these structural problems and that we deal with them.”  Most dealers believe Ireland will eventually accept a bailout from Europe and that some of the proceeds will be utilized to bolster the balance sheets of Irish banks.  French President Sarkozy said the euro’s strength is “unbearable” while European Central Bank President Noyer said the Fed is not trying to depreciate the dollar. ECB member Stark warned keeping interest rates too low for too long may create “new problems” and added “the phasing out of our liquidity support measures will continue after the end of the current quarter.”  Recent evidence suggests that eurozone money markets have improved since summer as ECB refinancing operations have fallen by about one-third and interbank trading volumes have doubled.  Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-16 September construction off 2.1% m/m and 8.1% y/y.  In U.S. news, Federal Reserve officials spoke about the Fed’s decision to expand its quantitative easing policy. Fed Chairman Bernanke met with Republicans and defended the Fed’s decision to provide additional monetary stimulus this month.  Bernanke also suggested the U.S. economy could gain 700,000 jobs as a result of its quantitative easing policy. Boston Fed President Rosengren said he expects the Fed will purchase the entire amount of US$ 600 billion that policymakers authorized on 3 November, adding the Fed “should take more actions” if “the economy were to weaken substantially and further disinflation were to occur.”  A group of 23 officials and economists published a letter yesterday that is critical of the Fed’s decision to expand monetary stimulus, a “big mistake” that will create an “inflation problem.” Similarly, Atlanta Fed President Lockhart yesterday reported “The economy is better positioned to definitively avoid the danger zone.  An unanticipated shock leading to a reversal is always possible, but absent such a development, the outlook is one of a deliberate pace of improvement.  The potential for further disinflation turning into deflation is becoming more remote.”  Last week, Fed Governor Warsh said he is “less optimistic than some that additional asset purchases will have significant, durable benefits for the real economy.”  Lockhart, Fed Vice Chairman Yellen, and New York Fed President Dudley have defended the Fed’s actions, adding it is not intended to weaken the dollar.  Even though the Fed’s intention to expand policy under its so-called “QE2” – or quantitative easing policy – was only announced earlier this month, some Fed-watchers are already speculating the Fed may eventually announce a third round of quantitative easing.  Some legislators have become critical of the Fed’s dual mandate of price stability and full employment and are calling for the Fed to only pursue the former.  Data released in the U.S. today saw MBA mortgage applications reverse course and decline 14.4%.  Also, October headline consumer price inflation was up 0.2% m/m and 1.2% y/y while the ex-food and energy component was up 0.0% m/m and 0.6% y/y.  Other data saw October housing starts off 11.7% m/m to an annualized 519,000 units while October building permits were up 0.5% m/m to an annualized 550,000 units.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3280 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥83.55 level and was supported around the ¥83.05 level.  Technically, today’s intraday low was just below the 50% retracement of the ¥85.95 – 80.25 range.  Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Yamaguchi yesterday warned the “drivers” of Japanese economic growth are slowing along with the deceleration in the global economic expansion.  Data released in Japan overnight saw the September coincident index tick higher to 102.1 while the September leading index ticked lower to 98.6.  Yesterday, it was reported that Q3 gross domestic product was up 0.9% q/q, up from the 0.4% prior level, and was up 3.9% on an annualized basis from the revised prior reading of 1.8%.  This represented the fourth consecutive quarter of expansion and was better than expected.  On a negative note, however, export growth decelerated to +2.4% q/q, down from a revised 5.6% in the previous quarter.  Bank of Japan recently downgraded its economic assessment for November, reporting the economic expansion is “pausing.”  There is speculation that global opposition and criticism of the Fed’s latest quantitative easing program may render Bank of Japan less likely to adopt further aggressive monetary easing steps.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.15% to close at ¥9,811.66.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥83.10 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥112.75 level and was supported around the ¥112.30 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥132.95 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥84.10 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.6432 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.6386.  Bank of Korea lifted its seven-day repurchase rate by 25bps to 2.5% and China’s yuan strengthened on the premise that Chinese interest rates may be headed higher.  There is increasing speculation China may impose temporary price controls on account of the recent run-up in inflation.  Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday reported his cabinet is drafting anti-inflation policies to combat the fastest inflation the country has seen in two years.  Many economists believe People’s Bank of China will be forced to raise interest rates within weeks following a sharp acceleration in inflation last month to its fastest pace in 25 months.  The benchmark one-year lending rate could hit 5.81% by the end of the year according to some economists, a move that would represent a 25bps tightening.  People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou reported China is under “pressure” from capital inflows and reiterated his goal of “moderate” credit growth.  PBoC lifted some banks’ reserve requirements twice in one day last week. 


The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.5945 level and was supported around the US$ 1.5855 level.  Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 23.6% retracement level of the $1.6295 – 1.5840 range.  Bank of England Governor King this week reiterated the central bank “could do further quantitative easing if that turned out to be necessary,” adding “there are significant risks to inflation undershooting.”  Minutes from BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting earlier this month were released today in which rate-setters voted 1-7-1 to keep the Bank rate unchanged at 0.5% and its asset purchase plan unchanged at £200 billion.  Data released in the U.K. today saw October claimant count rate remain steady at 4.5% as the claimant count rate fell by 3,700.  The September ILO unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7% and September weekly earnings were up 2.0%.  MPC member Posen supported additional asset purchases of £50 billion while MPC member Sentance voted to hike rates by 25bps.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5795 level.  The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.8510 level and was supported around the £0.8475 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 0.9880 level and was capped around the CHF 0.9975 level.  Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 61.8% retracement of the CHF 1.0275 – 0.9460 range.  Data to be released in Switzerland tomorrow include the October trade balance and November Credit Suisse ZEW survey.  Swiss National Bank is expected to keep monetary policy unchanged when its quarterly interest rate decision is announced next month.  Notably, Swiss core inflation was negative in October for the first time in at least sixteen years.  This renders it likely SNB may be forced to keep interest rates relatively low for quite some time.  In September, SNB kept its main interest rate unchanged at 0.25% and reduced its inflation projections through early 2013.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0045 level.  The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.3385 level while the British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.5735 level.


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