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Wednesday May 25, 2005 - 12:40:58 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (25 May 2005)

The euro came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2555/50 level, a fresh multi-month low, and was unable to reclaim ground above the US$ 1.2600 figure. The 1.2560/ 55 level represented the 38.2% retracement of the move from 1.0765 to 1.3665 and a sustained break of this level technically opens the way to a possible test of the 1.2445/ 1.2215 levels. Traders are still talking about yesterday’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes in which policymakers expressed concern with a slowdown in U.S. economic growth – the so-called “soft patch” that remains on traders’ minds. The recent deceleration in economic growth, however, was deemed “transitory” and policymakers said “The ability of the U.S. economy to withstand significant shocks over recent years buttressed the view that policymakers should not overreact to a comparatively small number of disappointing indicators.” Fed officials also spotlighted an “uncreep” in inflationary pressures. There were no significant clues about the Fed’s likely policy actions in the immediate future but most dealers expect the Fed to continue tightening monetary policy gradually over the coming months, possibly lifting the federal funds target rate as high as 3.75% or 4.00% by the end of the year. Some FOMC members expressed reservations with keeping the term “measured pace” embedded in the minutes, arguing it would limit the Fed’s ability to move policy “flexibly.” Chicago Fed President Moskow spoke last night and said the U.S. economy remains on a “solid growth path” despite elevated energy price pressures. Regarding the future course of monetary policy, Moskow added the Fed “still has some room to cover.” The euro came off marginally when it was reported that the German May Ifo business sentiment index receded to 92.9 from 93.3 in April, lower-than-expected. Likewise, the expectations sub-index fell to 92.3 from 93.6 while the current conditions sub-index improved to 93.4 from 93.1. Ifo Institute’s Nerb called on the European Central Bank to lower rates and added the euro’s exchange rate is still too strong. Data released in Italy today saw March retail sales gain 2.2% y/y while the May ISAE sentiment index printed at 84.2, more-than-expected. ECB’s Liikanen spoke today and said “when rates have been low for some time, it is important for people to take into account the possibility of a rise." ECB officials continue to publicly counter the notion that interest rates may move lower in the eurozone. The focus in the eurozone remains squarely on the French referendum this Sunday on whether or not to accept the EU’s Constitution. The polls are tight but the “no” camp is said to maintain a slight lead. Data released in the U.S. today saw the headline April durable goods orders climb 1.9%, more-than-expected, while the ex-transportation component fell 0.2%, worse-than-expected. March’s totals were a mixed bag of revisions. April new home sales will be released later in the U.S. session and Fed Governor Bernanke will speak. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2590/ 1.2620 levels and large stops are said to be in place below the $1.2520 level. The $1.2500 figure continues to be cited as an option barrier.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥107.85 level and was supported around the ¥107.25 level. The pair stopped just short of testing key technical resistance again around the ¥107.88/ 90 level – the 61.8% retracement of the ¥111.70 to ¥101.67 range. The pair did not wander far below shorter-term technical support around the ¥107.35/34 level, the 23.6% retracement of the ¥104.17 to ¥108.28/30 range. Traders reacted to Japanese economic data that saw April’s trade surplus recede 20.5% m/m and 10.4% y/y to ¥712.2 billion. Tokyo’s trade surplus with Asia was down 4.9% while its trade deficit with China was up 61.4%. The evolving trade dynamic involving China and Japan has silently contributed to the recent political tensions between the two countries and this trade relationship warrants close future scrutiny. Dealers cited a modicum of yen buying during the Asian session that was linked to a statement from the Singapore Monetary Authority wherein authorities there reaffirmed their tightening bias. This will likely contribute to a firm Singaporean dollar and the yen got some brief mileage on this report. Minutes from Bank of Japan Policy Board’s 5-6 April meeting were released overnight wherein Fukuma voted against the majority to maintain the current account target at ¥30-35 trillion. Of course, BoJ last week voted to allow the current account surplus target to fall below its current range but stressed this is a technical allowance and not a beginning of the end of Japan’s long-standing quantitative easing policy. Option traders cite a large ¥107.25 expiry at 1400 GMT today. The Nikkei 225 stock index closed 1.07% lower at ¥11,014.43. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥107.35 level. The euro was largely unchanged vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥135.45 level and was supported just below the ¥135.00 figure. Today’s intraday low represents the 23.6% retracement level of the 2005 range and has supported the pair for several consecutive sessions. The cross briefly traded below this level in late April and early May and has been capped by technical resistance around the ¥136.20 level. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou cautioned the markets against thinking a yuan revaluation is imminent, saying any revaluation “can hardly happen overnight…reform of the exchange rate is a slow process.”

The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8245 level and peaked around the $1.8315 level. Sterling was driven to intraday lows after the release of a revision to Q1 U.K. GDP growth that saw growth at its lowest level since Q2 2003. Manufacturing output was downwardly revised sharply in Q1 and this pushed GDP lower to 0.5% from a provisional reading of 0.6%. Technically, cable continues to trade between the 61.8% and 76.4% retracement levels of the $1.7710-1.9550 range. Cable offers are seen around the $1.8290/ $1.8360 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6870 level and failed to reach the ₤0.6890 level.


The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2315 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2250 level. Chartists note that today’s intraday low coincides with the 61.8% retracement of the CHF 1.2850 – CHF 1.1290 range and dollar bulls are said to be eyeing the CHF 1.2480 level as an upside target. Swiss Q1 employment data will be released tomorrow followed by the May KOF leading indicator and comments from Swiss National Bank President Roth on Friday. Dollar bids are seen around the CHF 1.2285/ 70 levels. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5455 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5470 level.


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