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Wednesday May 18, 2005 - 14:53:58 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (18 May 2005)

The euro moved moderately higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2660 level and was supported around the $1.2585 level. Technically, today’s high is the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.2915 to $1.2645 and this level pressured the common currency today. The pair moved to intraday highs after the release of relatively tame core April U.S. consumer price inflation data that saw an unchanged ex-food and energy component. The headline number was a little hotter-than-expected, up +0.5% m/m, while the year-on-year increase matched expectations at +2.2%. These data follow relatively tame producer price inflation data released yesterday and some traders believe this may give the Federal Reserve some breathing room when policymakers convene next month. The 10-year U.S. Treasury note is now trading below the 4.10% level again, a sign that U.S. bond market sees little inflation in the U.S. economy. In fact, the core CPI was at the lowest rate of underlying inflation since November 2003. Traders await the release of U.S. leading economic indicators, weekly initial jobless claims, and the Philadelphia Fed index tomorrow. Traders also await comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow at 1615 GMT today. In eurozone news, Bank of France Governor Noyer reported French 2005 GDP growth “may be closer to 2.0% than 2.5%” and could even “possible be below 2.0%.” From a pure growth perspective, the U.S. economy continues to dominate the economic performance of the eurozone as Germany’s, France’s, and Italy’s economies continue to underperform. The question in traders’ minds is whether market participants will focus on this difference in relative economic performance, or whether the focus on structural imbalances in the U.S. will prevail and drive the dollar lower. Euro bids are seen around the $1.2610 level and euro offers are cited around the $1.2710 level.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥107.05 level and failed to get above the ¥107.75 level. Technically, the day’s low represents the 61.8% retracement level of the move from ¥108.90 to ¥104.20 while the day’s high represents the 76.4% retracement of the same range. Nikkei reported the Japanese government will keep its assessment of the economy unchanged for the fifth consecutive month when it releases its May economic report tomorrow. It is expected, however, that the government will upgrade its assessment of the export sector from “weakening” to “flat.” Data released in Japan today saw April bankruptcies off 23.4% y/y while April corporate failures were off 20.3% y/y. Finance minister Tanigaki maintained his pressure on China to revalue its yuan currency overnight, saying he thinks it is “desirable for China to look to be flexible on the yuan.” The yen moved to intraday lows during Australasian dealing after the U.S. Treasury did not accuse China of currency manipulation in a much-anticipated report. The implication is less pressure on China to immediately revalue its currency, and therefore less pressure on other Asian nations to stop artificially devaluing their currencies. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.09% to close at ¥10,835.41. Dollar bids are seen around the ¥105.55 level and dollar offers are cited around the ¥107.70 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.25 level and was capped around the ¥135.90 level. Euro offers are seen around the ¥136.20 level and euro bids are seen around the ¥134.95 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. Treasury concluded in a report that China “did not use its currency to gain an unjust trade advantage” in the second half of 2004. Treasury, however, warned China that it could be named a country that manipulates its currency in the future if current “distortionary” trends continue. Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced overnight that it will tweak its currency peg to counter upward pressure on the Hong Kong Dollar related to China’s eventual revaluation of the yuan. China today released a new foreign exchange dealing system that permits currencies other than the yuan to be traded. Data released in China today saw January – April industrial output climb 16.2% y/y.

The British pound moved marginally higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8380 level and was supported around the $1.8290 level. Sterling stopped just short of testing key technical support around the US$ 1.8275 level overnight, the 61.8% retracement of the move from $1.7480 to $1.9550. Minutes from Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee’s May interest rate deliberations were released today and they evidenced an 8-1 vote to keep monetary policy unchanged, compared with a 7-2 vote in April. Deputy Governor Andrew Large voted for a +25bps hike in interest rates. Paul Tucker, who voted with Large for a hike in April, noted he believes the market’s perception of no additional rate hikes this year may be “overly accommodative.” Data released in the U.K. today saw the April claimant count of unemployment rise +8,100 while March’s claimant count was upwardly revised to +13,500 from +11,000. Headline average earnings receded to +4.6% from +4.7% in February. Interestingly, the ILO measure of unemployment – deemed more accurate than the U.K.’s claimant count – shows unemployment continues to decline. The wages data are important because a majority of MPC members acknowledged it will likely a second-round effect in the form of higher wages derived from higher inflation to lead to additional monetary tightening at this time. U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown yesterday delivered a fairly somber view of Europe’s economy, as expected. The U.K. will assume the rotating presidency of the European Union from 1 July. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8275 level and cable offers are seen around the $1.8410 level. The euro moved marginally higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6890 level and was supported around the ₤0.6865 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2180 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2270 level. For the second consecutive day, the pair derived some support around the CHF 1.2195 level, a relative high dating to 14 April. Technically, chartists are identifying the CHF 1.2160/ 1.2120/ 1.2085 levels as short-term support levels for the pair. Swiss import and producer price inflation data will be released tomorrow. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2290 level. The euro moved marginally lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5415 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5450 level.


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