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Monday May 23, 2005 - 13:26:58 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (23 May 2005)

The euro moved marginally lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2535 level and was capped around the $1.2565 level. Today’s low was a fresh multi-month low not seen since 20 October 2004 and was just below Friday’s low. A couple of factors contributed to the pair’s weakness today. First, German Chancellor Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party lost an election this weekend in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, an SPD stronghold for 39 years. Schroeder is likely to call a general election this autumn, about one year early. Germany’s economy remains plagued by low economic growth and slack labour markets. Second, the German media reported Germany’s public deficit will reach 3.6% of GDP this year, well above the 3.0% deficit limit imposed by the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact. Third, it appears the “no” bloc that does not favour French accession of the European Constitution could vote in the majority when French voters hold a referendum this coming weekend. The markets could construe a “no” vote as being a drag on the common currency as it implies a lack of cohesive European political unity to complement the single currency. Fourth, the European Commission today announced Italy could face action in July on account of its large budget deficit, relative to GDP. Traders are also focusing on relative growth and interest rate differentials between the U.S. and eurozone. Q1 GDP growth in the U.S. will be released later in the week and German Ifo sentiment will be released on Wednesday. Notably, net long U.S. dollar positions in the IMM were above 100,000 for the week ending 17 May, the highest level since 2002. Another issue on the radar screens of traders this week is a report that reforms to Germany’s unemployment benefits program may cost the government some €10 billion additional this year. European Central Bank Chief Economist Issing spoke on Saturday and said the eurozone’s low growth rates need to be rectified through national economic policies rather than monetary policy. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2480 level.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥107.80 level after capping out around the ¥108.30 level. Technically, today’s high is around the 50% retracement of the move from ¥114.90 to ¥101.70. Australasian and European dealers pushed the pair steadily lower and early North American bids lifted the pair to the ¥107.90 level. Options traders cite selling pressure around the ¥108.40 level ahead of a reported option barrier seen around the ¥108.50 level. Some also cite a run-off around the ¥108.40 level at 1400 GMT today. Nikkei released a survey overnight that predicts year-on-year capital expenditures will rise 10.1% in the year to March 2006. The Nikkei 225 stock index rallied 1.10% to close at ¥11,158.65. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥107.60 level below which stops are seen around the ¥107.55 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.30 level and was capped around the ¥135.85 level. Euro offers are cited around the ¥136.20 level and euro bids are seen around the ¥134.95 level. In Chinese news, China downwardly revised its Q1 GDP growth to 9.4% from 9.5% while it was reported that industrial firms’ profits were up 15.6% y/y in the January – April period. Vice Premier Wu Yi reiterated there is no established time frame when China will revalue the yuan. She said “If the conditions are right, we will conduct reform voluntarily, even without pressure from foreign countries. If the conditions are not right, we will not carry out the reforms, no matter how much pressure foreign countries exert. In a word, we will abide by market rules, but we will not succumb to external pressure." The United States and other countries continue to exert sizable pressure on China to revalue its yuan currency. Hu Xiaolian, the head of State Administration of Foreign Exchanged, today called on China to utilize its foreign exchange reserves in a broader capacity and possibly increase its investment returns.

The British pound gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8300 figure and was supported around the $1.8240 level. Sterling finished last week on the other foot having tested bids around the $1.8230 level, an area that has not printed since October 2004. Data released in the U.K. today saw Hometrack house prices fall 0.1% m/m in May, the eleventh consecutive monthly decline, and were off 2.3% y/y. Many market participants continue to focus on the increasing likelihood that Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will expand monetary policy and reduce interest rates by the end of the year. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8145 level and cable offers are cited around the $1.8465 level. The euro moved marginally lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6855 level and was capped around the ₤0.6880 level.


The Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2305 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2350 level. The pair finished Friday more than one big figure higher and near its strongest level since 19 October 2004. Swiss National Bank member Hildebrand spoke yesterday and said Swiss monetary policy remains “exceptionally expansive” and could result in higher inflation. Regarding economic growth, Hildebrand said recent economic data are “not suggesting an acceleration of growth either.” Swiss employment data will be released on Thursday followed by the KOF leading indicator on Friday. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2255 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5460 level and was capped just below the CHF 1.5500 figure.


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