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Wednesday April 20, 2005 - 14:00:44 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 April 2005)

The euro failed to add to recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3080 level, reversed course, and then tested bids around the $1.2990 level. The common currency closed yesterday’s North American session above the technically-important $1.3040 level – the 38.2% retracement level of the move from $1.3480 to $1.2765 – but failed to hold that level today. The pair moved to daily lows after the release of U.S. March consumer price inflation data that saw a +0.6% increase in headline CPI and a +0.4% rise in the ex-food and energy “core” rate. The jump in the core rate was about twice as much as was expected and these data follow relatively tame PPI data that were released yesterday. Collectively, these data suggest there are price pressures at the retail level and refocus attention on the Federal Open Market Committee ahead of its 3 May monetary policy deliberations. Cleveland Fed President Pianalto today said she believes inflation expectations have remained steady while San Francisco Fed President Yellen said inflation pressures have remained “well contained.” Interestingly, Pianalto voiced modest support for an explicit inflation objective and said she believes inflation – as measured by the personal consumption expenditures index – should average around 1.5% over the a three-to-five year time horizon. Yellen also said the economy may have gone through a so-called “soft patch” in March. U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow today said he remains “confident that the U.S. will remain an attractive place to invest,” squashing continued rumours that foreign central banks are moving out of U.S. assets. In eurozone news, European Central Bank member Garganas today said an economic recovery there is “delayed” and added the economic outlook remains “rather uncertain.” This dims the possibility of a monetary tightening by the ECB anytime soon. Data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-12 February trade surplus at €3.0 billion compared with a deficit of €1.7 billion in January. Also, February Italian industrial sales were off 0.2%% y/y. Traders await release of the Fed’s Beige Book later in the U.S. session. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2960 level.


The yen moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥107.40 level and remained supported around the ¥106.70 level. Today’s intraday low coincided with a major technical level, specifically the 38.2% retracement of the move from ¥114.90 to ¥101.65. The next hurdle for the pair remains the ¥107.65/ 70 level and the ¥108.25/ 30 level above there. Data released overnight in Japan saw March convenience store sales decline 1.4% y/y, the eighth consecutive fall. Bank of Japan Policy Board member Mizuno said the central bank needs to “gradually” lower its quantitative easing target to restore normalcy to the money market. BoJ is likely to keep its long-standing quantitative easing policy intact until consumer prices stabilize above zero per cent. Traders continue to monitor Sino-Japanese tensions to determine if heightened rhetoric and anti-Japan demonstrations in China will carry over to the FX markets. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.21% to close at ¥11,088.58. Dollar bids are seen around the ¥106.90 level and dollar offers are cited around the ¥107.65 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥139.80 level and remained supported around the ¥139.25 level. Stops were reached above the ¥139.50 level. In Chinese news, U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow reiterated a top economic priority of the Bush administration is to pressure China to make its FX regime more flexible. Bush himself yesterday the U.S. is pressuring China so that they will “eventually” revalue the yuan. There has been heightened speculation over the past several trading sessions that a yuan revaluation is forthcoming as the discount rates in one-year non-deliverable forwards have widened to more than -4,000, meaning traders expect a USD/ RMB exchange rate of 7.8 or so within one year. Data released in China overnight saw GDP expand 9.5% y/y in Q1, more-than-expected. Also, CPI was up 2.8% y/y in Q1, fixed-asset investment was up 22.8% y/y, and total retail sales were up 13.7% y/y.

The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9200 figure before moving lower to the $1.9095 level. Stops were reached below the $1.9130 level during the move lower as sterling was unable to get above its high of yesterday. Minutes from Bank of England’s April Monetary Policy Committee meeting were released today and they evidenced a 7-to-2 vote to keep policy unchanged. Members Large and Tucker voted for an increase in the headline repo rate to 5.00%, a repeat of their votes in March. The majority concluded near-term risks to inflation remain on the downside. Policymakers also discussed why consumption and final private demand is not robust given strong labour market conditions. Conflicting mortgage lending data were released today with CML reporting that mortgage lending activity increased last month while BBA reported mortgage lending eased in March. Also, BSA reported that March mortgage approvals reached their highest level since July 2004. Cable bids are seen around the $1.9025 level. The euro moved marginally lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6800 figure.


The Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1890 level and remained supported around the CHF 1.1795 level. Stops were reached above the CHF 1.1835 level during the move higher. Dollar bids are seen around the CHF 1.1750 level while dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1920 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5450 level and remained supported around the CHF 1.5420 level.


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