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Monday May 16, 2005 - 14:02:35 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (16 May 2005)

The euro was little changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2580 level, its lowest level since late October, and was capped around the $1.2640 level. The big news in the FX market today was the March Treasury International Capital data report that saw foreign purchases of domestic securities reach a net US$ 60.1 billion in March, down from a net $98.1 billion in February. This was significantly below forecasts around a net $72.0 billion in securities purchases as the net decline in corporate bond buys outweighed the net increase in Treasury bonds and notes. Foreign central banks sold a net $14.4 billion in U.S. securities, the first net sales number since August 2003, down from net purchases of $18.7 billion in February. Notably, Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasuries declined for the first time in a year while Japanese holdings fell for the second time in the previous three months. Other data released in the U.S. today saw the New York Fed’s Empire State manufacturing index weaken for the second consecutive month, printing at -11.1 in May from a revised 2.0 in April. This was the worst and first negative print since April 2003. In eurozone news, European Central Bank President Trichet described EMU-12 interest rates as “appropriate.” Bank of France’s survey released today predicted Q2 French GDP will improve to around +0.5% q/q while Italian April HICP was revised to +0.8% m/m and +2.2% y/y. It was reported that the European Commission expects Portugal’s public sector deficit to reach nearly 7% of GDP in 2005, likely precipitating action against that country. Traders continue to cite talk that some large hedge funds are in trouble and closing short dollar positions, leading to more gains for the greenback. April U.S. producer price inflation data will be released tomorrow followed by consumer price inflation on Wednesday. Traders await the data to see if a renewal in U.S. price pressures cements further Federal Open Market Committee monetary tightening next month. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2705 level.


The yen weakened moderately vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥107.75 level and was supported around the ¥107.25 level. The pair traded at its highest level since 18 April and has now traded at a higher high and/ or a higher close for seven consecutive days. Options traders cite an option barrier at the ¥108.00 figure, below which offers are expected, while another is cited around the ¥107.75 level. Finance minister Tanigaki reiterated Japan will not change its change the composition of its foreign exchange reserves. Data released in Japan overnight saw the March current account surplus print at ¥1.8511 trillion, up +0.5% y/y. Also, the domestic corporate goods price index climbed +0.6% m/m and +1.8% y/y last month while the consumer confidence index improved to 47.4 from March’s 45.2 level – the third improvement in five months. The CGPI increase was the third consecutive monthly increase. Capital flows data were released overnight and they saw Japanese investors as net buyers of ¥4.00 trillion in foreign debt last month on top of being net buyers of ¥198.6 billion in foreign equities; total investment outflows reached ¥4.23 trillion in April. Total foreign investment inflows into Japan reached ¥2.69 trillion last month, resulting in a net ¥1.54 trillion investment funds outflow from Japan. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.92% to close at ¥10,947.22. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥106.40/ ¥105.95 levels. The euro was little-changed vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.20 level and was capped around the ¥135.90 level. The ¥136.00 figure is cited as an option barrier and euro offers are cited around the ¥136.35 level. In Chinese news, April CPI was up 1.8% y/y while April exports were up 31.9% y/y and imports were up 16.2% y/y. Chinese Premier Wen reiterated China will not cave in to foreign demands regarding liberalization of the yuan currency. He said “Any outside pressure or speculative moves that turn this economic issue into a political one will not help solve the (exchange rate) problem” and added the U.S.’s decision to impose protectionist measures against Chinese textile imports “will not help the healthy development of Sino-U.S. trade.” People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou on Friday said it is “definitely not possible” that China will revalue the yuan now.

The British pound extended recent sharp losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable probed bids around the US$ 1.8330 level, its lowest level since 5 November. Sterling has now receded more than five U.S. cents in the previous four trading days and is off more than seven cents since 20 April. Data released in the U.K. today saw Rightmove property prices rise at their slowest annual pace since 1996, up 4.9% y/y in May. Traders will be alert to BBA, BSA, and CML mortgage lending data later in the week to determine the status of mortgage lending activity in the U.K. economy. The dovish Bank of England quarterly inflation report released last week has most traders thinking the central bank will not be raising interest rates anytime soon, leading to further sterling weakness. Monetary Policy Committee member Bell today described the rate-setting process of the central bank and said it is not possible for the BoE to always telegraph its interest rate intentions because “asymmetric information and knowledge will mean that surprises cannot be entirely eliminated.” Cable offers are cited around the $1.8465/ $1.8550 levels. The euro gained solid ground vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6880 level and was supported around the ¬₤0.6810 level. Euro offers are cited around the ₤0.6905 level.


The Swiss franc gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback plumbed intraday lows after the release of the weaker-than-expected March TIC data. The pair tested offers around the CHF 1.2290 level and receded to the CHF 1.2210 level during North American dealing. Today’s high represented the pair’s strongest print since 20 October. Swiss National Bank President Roth is scheduled to speak tomorrow and April producer and import prices will be released on Thursday. Dollar bids are seen around the CHF 1.2160 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5440 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5470 level.


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