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Monday May 2, 2005 - 14:29:25 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (2 May 2005)

The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2875 level and was supported around the $1.2840 level. The right range was attributable to a market holiday in parts of Asia and the U.K. and liquidity will be lighter later in the week when parts of continental Europe are on holiday. Data released in the U.S. today saw March construction spending rise 0.5% to US$ 1.052 trillion while the April ISM index printed at 53.3, down from 55.2 in March. The most important in the market this week is likely to be tomorrow’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Most Fed-watchers believe policymakers will lift the federal funds target rate by 25bps to 3.00% but the real question is whether or not the Fed drops the term “measured pace” from its policy bias. The markets are particularly curious to see how much continued tightening the FOMC will signal tomorrow and whether or not the recent pick-up in inflation costs will materialize in an extended period of interest rate hikes. Most Fed-watchers believe the Fed will not stop moving rates higher until the Fed funds target is at least 3.50% and possibly around 4.00%. Data released in the eurozone today saw April PMI fall below the “boom-or-bust” 50.0 level, printing at 49.2 last month from 50.4 in April. This was much lower than more forecasts and represented the first manufacturing contraction in some twenty months. Germany, Francy, and Italy all experienced weaker PMI readings last month. These data are also important because they suggest Q2 GDP could be 0.2% to 0.3% lighter on account of the manufacturing sector contraction. On the political front, a slight majority of French voters are now said to favour adoption of the EU constitution when a referendum is held on 29 May. In other eurozone news, Malta, Cyprus, and Lativa joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM-2) this weekend. Euro bids are seen around the $1.2800 figure while euro offers are cited around the $1.2905 level.


The yen moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.40 level and was supported right around the ¥105.00 figure. The pair gapped higher around 30 pips from Friday’s close of ¥104.75 and two key factors contributed to the rise. First, North Korea test-fired a short range missile over the weekend into the Sea of Japan and traders sold yen on the premise that North Korea may be preparing to test its nuclear capabilities or its ability to deliver weapons via longer-range missiles. North Korea test-fired a missile over Japan in 1998 and the yen was given on account of that test. Currently, six-party multilateral talks are close to being scheduled that would seek to limit North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Second, there was no change in China’s currency regime over the weekend despite heightened speculation the yuan would be permitted to float in a wider band. Adding to this speculation was a technical miscue on Friday that permitted the yuan to trade electronically at 8.2700 to the dollar, some 60 pips lower than its normal trading range. The Chinese said this was an error by a dealer while conspiracy theorists suggest China was testing the waters to see what the market’s reaction would be. Data released in Japan today saw workers’ average basic pay recede for the eleventh consecutive month in March. Japanese financial markets will be closed tomorrow through Thursday for Golden Week holidays. Nikkei reported that Bank of Japan is closely monitoring the Fed’s interest rate hikes as it develops an exit strategy for its long-standing quantitative easing policy. The Nikkei 225 stock index came off 0.06% to close at ¥11,002.11. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥105.45 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥135.60 level and was supported around the ¥135.05 level. The cross closed below the technically-significant ¥134.85 level on Friday on Chinese revaluation jitters but has traded above that level today. In Chinese news, China was closed for its traditional Labor Day holiday today and markets will reopen tomorrow.

The British pound came off sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8925 level and was capped around the $1.9075 level. U.K. financial markets were closed today and London traders will return to their FX desks tomorrow. This represents the pair’s lowest level since 18 April and stops were hit below the $1.8955 level – the 50% retracement of the move from $1.9325 to $1.8590. On the political front, Prime Minister Blair’s Labour Party is said to hold a marginal lead ahead of this Thursday’s general election. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8870 level while cable offers are cited around the $1.9045 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6785 level and was supported around the ₤0.6735 level. Euro bids are seen around the ₤0.6725 level.


The Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1990 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1955 level. Today’s high represented the pair’s strongest print since 18 April and chartists cite CHF 1.2020 as the dollar’s next upside hurdle. Notably, the pair remained supported at the CHF 1.1835 level on Friday – the 50% retracement level of the move from CHF 1.1475 to CHF 1.2195. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.1920 level and dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.2020 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5405 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5380 level.


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