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Wednesday June 15, 2005 - 13:58:05 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (15 June 2005)

The euro appreciated modestly vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2070 area after earlier trading around the $1.2015 level. The common currency’s retracement remains shallow and technically, there are many levels for the pair to hurdle if it is to continue to correct including the $1.2085/ $1.2105/ $1.2150/ $1.2190 levels. Data released in the U.S. today saw April business inventories climb +0.3%, down from March’s +0.4% pace. Also, the headline May consumer price index printed at -0.1% while the ex-food and energy “core” rate was up +0.1%. These data are similar to yesterday’s producer price inflation data and will likely have a marginally weakening effect on the dollar as traders price in an end to the Federal Open Market Committee’s current monetary tightening cycle later this year. The Fed is likely to move the federal funds target rate higher by +25bps at its 29-30 June FOMC meeting, however, despite today’s data. Former Fed Vice Chairman Blinder was yesterday quoted as saying he would be surprised if the Fed stopped raising rated before the federal funds target rate reaches 4.0%. St. Louis Fed President Poole spoke yesterday and said he does not see a “conundrum” in long-term U.S. interest rates because economic data over the past year was consistent with expectations. He argued that the Fed’s policy decisions were largely as expected as a result and added there was no reason for the market “to revise its expectations of future interest rate continuously in one direction. The bond rate fluctuated in response to arriving information, but ended up about where it started.” Poole characterized the outlook for the U.S. economy as “quite favourable.” Fed Governor Kohn will today speak and say the U.S. economy is in “unexplored territory” and will mention “some unusual imbalances” in the U.S. economy. He will also say the “risk of of rapid adjustments and unusual configurations of asset price movements is higher than normal” but added he “expects that the adjustment to more-sustainable patterns of spending and production and saving will occur in an orderly manner.” Other data released in the U.S. today saw April Treasury International Capital portfolio inflows into the U.S. print at US$ 47.4 billion, weaker-than-expected and March’s tally was downwardly revised to $40.6 billion. Notably, private purchases of Treasury bonds and U.S. equities decreased to US$ 42.1 billion from $73.3 billion in March. Also, the Empire State manufacturing survey printed at 11.7 for June, a recovery from negative territory in May. Additionally, industrial production gained 0.4% last month and capacity utilization rose to 79.4% from a revised 79.1%. Manufacturing production printed 2.7% higher on an annualized basis and manufacturing output gained 0.6% m/m. In eurozone news, European Central Bank President Trichet said current EMU-12 interest rates are “appropriate.” Many ECB-watchers have shifted recently and now believe the next policy move will be an expansionary cut in interest rates later in the year. Trichet has yet to signal such a move but ECB Chief Economist Issing may have intimated this in remarks earlier this week. Trichet is now clearly on the fence as he today added the ECB remains “realistic and pragmatic.” Current European Union President Juncker today called on the ECB to lower rates, noting that several eurozone ministers are appealing for an easier monetary policy. EU’s Alumnia today say an exchange rate between $1.18 and $1.30 is “appropriate.” Technically, the $1.1830 level represents a significant area of technical support for the pair. ECB’s Weber echoed Trichet’s comments, saying there is no monetary bias at the ECB at this time. Data released in the eurozone today saw final May HICP up 2.3% y/y, up from April’s 2.2% pace. The Fed’s June Beige Book will be released later in the day. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2100 figure.


The yen was flat vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback was supported around the ¥109.10 level and capped just below the ¥109.50 level. As expected, Bank of Japan’s Policy Board voted to keep monetary policy unchanged but BoJ Governor Fukui reported that two policymakers voted against today’s decision. His remarks were likely made to prepare the markets for another technical adjustment in the current account surplus target, a reflection of decreasing demand for central bank liquidity in the Japanese banking system. The central bank also issued its June monthly report today in which it kept its economic assessment unchanged, noting the economy remains in a recovery mode. BoJ also cited weak export growth and reported production and capital expenditures are both increasing. In contrast, the Japanese government upgraded its assessment of the economy for the first time in nearly one year, noting improvements in consumption and the labour market. Like the BoJ’s report, however, the government also spotlighted the flat export market. Options traders continue to cite a major option barrier around the ¥110.00 figure and protective offers are seen below. Data released in Japan today saw household financial assets rise 0.4% in 2004 to ¥1.416 trillion, a 0.4% y/y increase and the second highest amount on record. Also, April industrial output climbed a revised 1.9% m/m and 0.3%, down from initial estimates of 2.2% and 0.6%, respectively. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.71% yesterday to close at ¥11,415.88. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥108.90/ 70 levels. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥132.10 level and was supported just above the ¥131.40 level. In Chinese news, Credit Suisse First Boston upwardly revised its 2005 GDP forecast to 8.9% y/y. Data released in China today saw January – May value-added output up 16.3% y/y while May’s tally was up 16.6% y/y. In revaluation news, a government newspaper today printed a story that promotes a widening of the band to 3%-5% around the official exchange rate and then eventually moving it to 7%-10%.

The British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8140 level and was supported around the $1.8045 level. Data released in the U.K. today saw the May claimant count of unemployment at +13,200, higher-than-expected and also the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Headline average earnings rose marginally to 4.6% while the ex-bonuses component was steady at +4.1%. The U.K. labour market has apparently bottomed out and this could have an upward effect on interest rate expectations. Bank of England Governor King today said he does not know where interest rates will go and added the financial media has “exaggerated” the slowdown in the consumer sector. The big news in the U.K. remains a brewing and tense battle between the U.K. and Europe regarding the U.K.’s decades-old budget rebate from the European Union. EU officials will convene this weekend to discuss future budgets and Eurogroup President Juncker has said an impasse remains the most likely outcome. Prime Minister Blair said it is “difficult to see the differences being bridged” and there are some reports he may suggest the EU suspend its constitution ratification, much as European Commission President Barroso has done today. Cable offers are seen around the $1.8200 figure. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6670 level and was supported around the ₤0.6650 level.


The Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2705 level after failing to get above the CHF 1.2790 level. Today’s high, however, was equal to yesterday’s and Monday’s multi-month highs and today’s low is right around the 23.6% retracement of the move higher from the CHF 1.2410 level. Swiss National Bank will release its quarterly monetary policy assessment tomorrow and is likely to keep its target for three-month Swiss franc LIBOR unchanged. Traders will also await remarks from SNB President Roth. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2645/ 00 levels. The euro climbed higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5395 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5360 level.


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