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Tuesday May 31, 2005 - 12:36:26 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (31 May 2005)

The euro depreciated very sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2310 level after failing to get back above the $1.2485 level during Australasian dealing. Dealers absorbed long-term technical support around the $1.2385 level with little resistance. This level was the 23.6% retracement level of the pair’s lifetime range. Traders continue to punish the common currency following France’s rejection of the European Union’s constitution at a referendum on Sunday. Dutch voters go to the polls tomorrow and some are also forecasting a rejection of the constitution there. The lack of political unity to complement Economic and Monetary Union in the eurozone is weighing heavily on the euro at present. French President Chirac reshuffled his cabinet today in response to his humiliating defeat on Sunday. This news comes just days after Germany’s Schroeder announced he will likely call an early general election later this year following an SDP electoral defeat in North Rhine-Westphalia. Data released in Germany today saw its jobless total fall 161,000 m/m in May to 4.86 million, while the unemployment rate fell from 12% to 11.6%. Other eurozone data saw the EMU-12 May economic sentiment indicator print at 96.1, down from 96.5 in April, while the April business climate indicator worsened to -0.37 from -0.28 last month. Provisional inflation data were also released today with May HICP up 2.0% y/y, in-line with forecasts. German April wholesale sales were off 2.9% m/m and up 1.2% y/y. European Central Bank President Trichet talked about the French referendum last night, saying Europe is “facing a difficult moment.” He added the ECB will “preserve tomorrow, as it did in the past, price stability and confidence in the currency, which are necessary conditions to sustainable growth and job creation.” Trichet also said the escalating price of raw materials like oil is “far from secondary importance” and said it is “crucial” to implement revised EU Stability and Growth Pact “in a stringent manner.” May Chicago PMI and consumer confidence data will be released later in the U.S. session today. Traders will also monitor a mounting trade dispute between the U.S.’s Boeing and Europe’s Airbus that seems to be headed to the World Trade Organization. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2375 level.


The yen lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥108.35 level after climbing higher from the ¥107.85 level. The pair finally tackled the key ¥108.30 level that capped the pair last week but a quick surge of selling pressure temporarily took the pair back below the ¥108.00 figure. Many Japanese economic data were released overnight. First, it was reported that Japan’s unemployment rate receded to a 76-month low of 4.4% in April, down from March’s 4.5% level. Second, it was reported that April salaried household spending came off 3.1% y/y as consumers continue to delay spending decisions, a symptom of deflation. Third, April housing starts rose 0.6% y/y, the third increase in four months. Japan’s MoF confirmed it did not intervene in the FX market in May and this means authorities have not overtly intervened since mid-March 2004. Most dealers believe the MoF can countenance an exchange rate around current levels. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.09% to close at ¥11,276.59. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥107.95/ 85 levels. The euro extended recent losses vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥133.10 level and was capped around the ¥134.80 level. A wave of fresh short-selling took the pair below the ¥134.50 level during Australasian dealing. The cross reached its lowest level since 20 January 2005. In Chinese news, China Securities Journal reported China’s GDP is likely to expand 9.1% y/y, down from 9.6% in 2004. China is also said to be stepping up rhetoric in the brewing trade spat with the U.S. and Japan by launching an anti-dumping probe into catechol imports.

The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8105 level before dealers lifted the pair back above the $1.8200 figure. Sterling climbed back from fresh multi-month lows after the release of CBI’s distributive trades survey saw May retail spending rebound from a weak April reading. A net 7% of retailers said sales were down this month, an improvement from -14% the previous month. This news, however, was tempered by a weak expectations sub-index that fell to -5 from +1 in April, its lowest level since August 1992. Overall, sales volumes remain lukewarm on the so-called high street and may evidence the effects of this year’s monetary tightenings and a decelerating housing market. Other data released today saw the GfK May consumer confidence measures recede to -1 from 0 in April. Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Nickell spoke at length about the U.K.’s labour situation saying “there still appears to be some spare capacity available in the labour market.” In political news, there are reports the U.K. will scrap plans for a vote on the European Union constitution if the Dutch vote against the constitution in their own referendum tomorrow. Cable offers are seen around the $1.8245/ 75 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6770 level and was capped around the ₤0.6845 level. Today’s depreciation was one of the cross’s biggest days in several months.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2495 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2370 level. The pair has not been this strong since October 2004 and a break of the CHF 1.2500 figure opens up the CHF 1.2770 level as an upside target. Data released in Switerland today saw the consumer price index for May fall 0.1% m/m and climb 1.1% y/y, at the low end of estimates. Q1 GDP data will be released on Thursday. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2395/ 45 levels. The euro extended recent losses vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5360 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5455 level.


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