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Tuesday May 17, 2005 - 14:53:18 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 May 2005)

The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2610 level and was capped around the $1.2660 level. Technically, today’s high coincides with a 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.2920 to $1.2580. Data released in the U.S. today saw April housing starts up +11.0% while building permits were 5.3% stronger. Other data released today saw April producer price inflation climb +0.6% while the core ex-food and energy rate gained +0.3%. These PPI data were hotter-than-anticipated and put the focus squarely on tomorrow’s April consumer price inflation data to see if the factory gate price pressures are materializing into retail price shocks. Data released later in the U.S. session saw April industrial production recede 0.2% while capacity utilization was off 79.2%. Traders are still talking about yesterday’s less-than-stellar Treasury International Capital flows reports for March that saw a headline figure of US$ 45.7 billion. There was a US$ 14 billion decline in official sector holdings but economists attributed much of it to an asset reallocation by Norway and conclude the U.S. is amply financings its trade deficit. Dealers are speculating that the recent strength of the U.S. dollar is ebbing and suggest that hedge funds may be lessening their short dollar covers. Hedge funds are said to have recently suffered substantial losses when the dollar appreciated and may explain some of the recent one-way U.S. dollar market. Speculation also abound that some traders may be covering short-dollar carry trades as U.S. yields and the dollar creep up. In eurozone news, Germany’s Bundesbank today reported the current position of European Central Bank monetary policy is not a detriment to Germany’s economy and said a “high vigilance in (the ECB’s) monetary policy is also essential due to the continuing abundant supply of liquidity.” In French news, the “no” camp is said to be leading the pack ahead of the 29 May European Union referendum on that country. Euro bids are seen around the $1.2580 level while euro offers are seen around the $1.2710 level.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥107.50 level and was supported around the ¥106.75 level. The pair’s high yesterday represented its strongest print since 18 April and the pair was generally bid higher after an early spike lower during Australasian dealing. Japanese economic data released overnight saw March industrial output come off a revised 0.2% m/m, better than the initial report of a 0.3% decline. Other data released overnight saw the Japanese economy expand a real 1.3% in the January – March quarter, or an annualized rate of 5.3%. This was more than double what was expected but the yen’s gains were short-lived after the number. Finance minister Tanigaki spoke overnight and said the government wants Bank of Japan “to make efforts to maintain the monetary easing environment” while minister Takenaka reiterated “deflation persists.” These comments are designed to pre-empt this week’s BoJ Policy Board meeting as there continues to be speculation the central bank will alter its quantitative policy’s liquidity target by lowering the current account surplus target level. BoJ policymakers would argue it is a technical adjustment unrelated to monetary policy while the government is concerned the markets may construe it as an unwinding of its long-standing quantitative easing policy, potentially leading to yen appreciation. The Nikkei 225 stock index declined a sizable 1.11% to close at ¥10,825.39. Dollar bids are seen around the ¥106.65/ 35 levels while dollar offers are cited around the ¥107.75 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 ¥134.70 level. Euro offers are seen around the ¥136.20 level. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China reconfirmed it will permit eight new currency pairs to start trading in the domestic interbank foreign exchange market from tomorrow. Chinese officials continue to assure the markets that the yuan will eventually be allowed to trade more liberally in the market but suggest the markets should not anticipate any short-term adjustments. Chinese Premier Wen yesterday said “outside pressure or speculative moves that turn this economic issue into a political one will not help solve (the yuan’s exchange rate) problem.” This issue is very topical today because the U.S. Treasury will release its most recent report at 1830 GMT about whether China and other trading partners are manipulating their currencies to gain competitive advantage. Data released in China today saw the enterprise commodity price index rise 2.8% y/y in April.

The British pound moved marginally lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8340 level and was capped around the $1.8420 level. Sterling stopped just short of establishing another multi-month low today and retraced 50% of yesterday’s range. Data released in the U.K. today saw April consumer price inflation escalate 1.9% y/y for the second consecutive month. These data were tempered by RICS housing market data that saw U.K. housing market activity slow by 30% y/y in April, inciting concerns that an abrupt slowdown may be at hand. On the interest rate front, short sterling interest rate futures are now discounting more than one monetary easing by the Bank of England. The markets clearly believe the next move in U.K. interest rates will be lower, and not higher. On the political front, Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown is due to speak today and is likely to talk about the U.K.’s upcoming presidency of the European Union. Cable offers are seen around the $1.8520 level. The euro moved marginally lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6860 level and was capped around the ₤0.6880 level.

The Swiss franc was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2250 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2195 level. Today’s low coincides with the daily high from 14 April and short-term market players want to see if the pair can close above the CHF 1.2210 level – the 23.6% retracement level of the move from CHF 1.1960 to CHF 1.2290. Swiss National Bank President Roth is scheduled to speak today and producer price inflation data will be released on Thursday. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2160 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5420 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5450 level.


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