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Thursday June 16, 2005 - 15:37:15 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (16 June 2005)

The euro reversed course and headed lower in North American dealing today as the single currency peaked around the US$ 1.2165 level and rapidly fell below the $1.2100 figure, eventually reaching the $1.2055 level. Data released in the U.S. today saw new residential construction plod higher in May, gaining 0.2% to 2.009 million units and above expectations. Single-family housing starts rose 4.7% last month while building permits were off 4.6%. While these data can be volatile, the U.S. housing market has continued to support final private demand because mortgage rates have remained near historical lows. Other data released today initial weekly jobless claims climb 1,000 to 333,000 while continuing claims rose 58,000 to 2.64 million. The Fed’s Beige Book was released yesterday and reported that economic activity remains “moderate, solid, or well-sustained” in most of the U.S. The major focus of most traders remains this weekend’s major budget battle in the eurozone. Luxembourg’s rotating presidency of the European Union ends in two weeks and by all admissions, a budget deal will not be reached this weekend involving the U.K. and Europe. This could have a negative impact on the common currency as it may further undermine confidence in Economic and Monetary Union. Some Italian legislators are said to be preparing to outline their plan for reintroducing the legacy lira currency and release details on 19 June. In other eurozne news, German Chancellor Schroeder said the EU constitution “is not dead.” Data released in the eurozone today saw May HICP downwardly revised to +1.9% y/y from the initial flash estimate of +2.0%, perhaps paving the way some more for an eventual European Central Bank monetary easing. Also, Q1 French payrolls fell by 6,000 and Italy’s trade balance worsened materially in April. U.S. current account data are schedule for release tomorrow. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2140 level.


The yen extended yesterday’s gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback came off sharply in North American dealing and tested bids around the ¥108.70 level. The pair was unable to get above the ¥109.40 level earlier in the day and stops were hit below the ¥109.05 level. Data released in Japan today saw April core machinery orders down 1.0% m/m and up +2.5% y/y. Capital flows released for the week ending 11 June saw Japanese investors purchase a net ¥550.2 billion in foreign bonds and sell ¥75.1 billion in foreign stocks while foreign investors purchased a net ¥858.6 billion of Japanese bonds and sold a net ¥281 billion in Japanese equities. These data mean Japanese have been net buyers of foreign bonds for ten out of the past eleven weeks. One important piece of data released overnight saw Nikkei report that private-sector non-financial companies raised ¥7.5 trillion more in funds than they paid back in 2004 – the first such increase in nine years. This is relevant because it evidences increased corporate fund demand and evidences progress in reducing bad debt exposures that have plagued Japan’s corporate sector since the equity and real estate bubbles burst more than a decade ago. The Nikkei 225 stock index was basically flat today and closed at ¥11,416.38. Option traders continue to cite the ¥110.00 figure as a barrier level. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥108.40/ 25 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥131.60 level and was capped around the ¥132.40 level. In Chinese news, it was reported that January – May fixed-asset investment was up 26.4% y/y. Also, China will officially launch trading in new currency pairs on 20 June following a recent successful one-month pilot program in which US$ 1.12 billion was traded by ten market-makers in Shanghai. This is noteworthy because most China-watchers believe this is a necessary precursor to eventually permitting U.S. dollar-yuan dealing.

The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8165 level and was capped around the $1.8285 level. Sterling climbed higher during European and London dealing even though U.K. May annual retail sales growth receded to their lowest level in six years, up a mere +0.1% m/m and +1.3% y/y – below April’s 2.0% y/y pace. These data evidence a significant pullback in the consumption and could be the result of higher borrowing costs in the U.K. following a succession of monetary tightenings by Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. The big question about sterling is how it will react to a probable stalemate between the EU and U.K. when EU leaders convene this weekend to discuss future budgetary concerns. At stake is more than ₤4 billion in annual rebates to the U.K. from the EU. Cable offers are cited around the $1.8215/45 levels. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6630 level and was capped around the ₤0.6655 level.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2775 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2655 level. As expected, Swiss National Bank kept monetary policy unchanged with the three-month LIBOR target range maintained at 0.25% to 1.25%. SNB President Roth said an increase in the target range “seems less urgent” and added there are “no signs of a cyclical downturn.” SNB’s Hildebrand added the market’s current view of a June 2006 interest rate hike is “plausible” but “subject to volatility.” Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2690/ 45 level. The euro moved marginally higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5405 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5375 level.


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