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Monday May 9, 2005 - 13:40:27 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (9 May 2005)

The euro retraced most of its intraday losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2785 level and was capped around the $1.2845 level ahead of key short-term technical resistance. The common currency came within 20 pips or so of reaching its April low of $1.2765 before moving higher. Traders continue to talk about Friday’s much stronger-than-expected April U.S. non-farm payrolls report and its implication for the U.S. economy and Fed policy. Most dealers believe the Fed will tighten at least twice more this year, possibly bringing the Fed funds target rate to around 3.75% or 4.00% by the end of the year. Economists continue to note the U.S. economy encountered a “soft patch” during Q1 and market participants await some economic data this week to see if the economy steadied in early Q2, including April retail sales. March wholesale inventories and sales will be released later in the U.S. session. Inflation pressures continue to escalate in the U.S. economy, as seen most recently in Friday’s average hourly earnings number. U.S. debt yields will likely continue to be pressured by the pick-up in rates. In eurozone news, European Central Bank President Trichet spoke at the G10 central bank governors’ meeting in Basel today and said global inflation pressures are quite “anchored.” He added central bankers expect the global growth rate to be around 4% this year. Euro offers are seen around the US$ 1.2850 level and euro bids are seen around the $1.2800/ $1.2765 levels.


The yen moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.65 level, its highest level since 29 April. The pair was supported around the ¥105.05 level and added to Friday’s strong gains that were inspired by strong U.S. non-farm payrolls data. Increasing speculation that North Korea is readying to conduct a nuclear test in Japan’s backyard – or executing an elaborate deception – has also dented confidence in the yen. Ratings agency Fitch upgraded its outlook on Japan’s long-term foreign currency and long-term domestic currency ratings from stable to negative. MoF’s Hosokawa verbally intervened overnight saying the government “will take decisive steps to stop excess and disorderly currency moves.” This is the first verbal intervention by a Japanese monetary official in quite some time and follows the dollar’s decline last week to a seven-week low of ¥104.20. Japan has not officially intervened in the FX markets by selling yen since mid-March 2004. Minutes from Bank of Japan Policy Board’s mid-March monetary policy meeting were released overnight and they evidenced a unanimous decision to maintain the central bank’s ¥30 – 35 trillion liquidity target unchanged. BoJ has found it difficult to maintain the ¥30 – 35 trillion target because commercial banks are growing more reluctant to keep large excess reserves at BoJ to guard against a bank failure. This is a symptom of the banking system’s achievements in reducing its massive non-performing loan portfolios. An adjustment in the target range will not signal an end to Japan’s long-standing quantitative easing policy. Most BoJ-watchers do not believe the central bank will begin to unwind its quantitative easing policy before the end of the current fiscal year in March 2006. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.19% to close at ¥ 11,171.32. Dollar bids are seen around the ¥104.15 level and dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.95 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥135.50 level and was supported around the ¥134.65 level. Stops were hit above the ¥134.95 level during the move higher as traders reacted to increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula. In Chinese news, Japanese MoF official Hosokawa said “it is favourable for China to reform its currency regime…We expect China to take appropriate measures by itself.” Chinese monetary officials will meet with their U.S. counterparts in Washington, D.C. later today.

The British pound moved sharply lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8805 level and was capped around the $1.8910 level. Sterling extended recent losses after Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep interest rates unchanged with the repo rate at 4.75%, as expected. The important BoE event this week will be the release of Wednesday’s quarterly inflation report as the market want to see if the MPC’s interest rate projections have changed. The pound was also battered on weak U.K. economic data that were released today. March manufacturing output receded 1.6%, defying expectations of a 0.1% increase, while industrial production was off 1.2%. This increases the likelihood that Q1 GDP data will be downwardly revised when they are released. The U.K. media reported yesterday that April high street sales notched their largest decline in six years, speculation ahead of tomorrow’s official release. REC/ Deloitte today reported that U.K. pay awards advanced at their fastest pace in seven months last month. Other data released today saw April raw material costs escalate in-line with predictions amid signs that U.K. producers are passing on price increases to consumers faster than expected. On the M&A front, Barclays has reportedly gained the green light to proceed with a ₤2.8 billion controlling purchase of South Africa’s Absa bank. Also, Royal Bank of Scotland is said to be still considering a ₤2 billion purchase of 20% of Bank of China. On the political front, the U.K. media is already highlighting reported tension between Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown – just days after the general election. Other data released today saw the ODPM house price index expand 12.6% y/y in March, up from February’s 10.5% rate. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8765 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6815 level and was supported around the ₤0.6775 level. Euro offers are seen around the ₤0.6835 level.


The Swiss franc was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2905 level and tested bids around the CHF 1.2050 level. Data released in Switzerland today saw April unemployment print at 3.8%, down from March’s 3.9% pace. Technically, the pair is now trading above the 23.6% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1475 to CHF 1.2195. Dollar bids are seen around the CHF 1.1985 level and dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.2145 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5485 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5460 level.


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