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Wednesday July 20, 2005 - 14:17:13 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 July 2005)

The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2095 level after testing bids around the $1.2015 level. All eyes and ears are on the testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman as he delivers his semi-annual economic report to the House. In his testimony, Greenspan indicated “The data released over the past two months or so accord with the view that the earlier soft readings on the economy were not presaging a more serious slowdown in the pace of activity. Employment has remained on an upward trend, retail spending has posted appreciable gains, inventory levels are modest, and business investment appears to have firmed. At the same time, low long-term interest rates have continued to provide a lift to housing activity.” He added “Thus, our baseline outlook for the U.S. economy is one of sustained economic growth and contained inflation pressures. In our view, realizing this outcome will require the Federal Reserve to continue to remove monetary accommodation. This generally favorable outlook, however, is attended by some significant uncertainties that warrant careful scrutiny. With regard to the outlook for inflation, future price performance will be influenced importantly by the trend in unit labor costs, or its equivalent, the ratio of hourly labor compensation to output per hour.” Greenspan will also testify in front of the Senate tomorrow and the question and answer sessions could provide some trading opportunities, particularly if Greenspan is asked about a time frame for China’s revaluation of its yuan currency. In eurozone news, the May EMU-12 trade surplus fell €3.2 billion from €4.2 billion in April and May real construction orders climbed +2.4% y/y. Also, Italy’s May trade deficit worsened and May industrial orders gained 7.2% y/y in May after April’s +0.1% expansion. In addition to Greenspan’s testimony tomorrow, the Philadelphia Fed index, leading indicators, and weekly initial jobless claims data will be released. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2110/ 30 levels.


The yen lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥113.15 level and was supported around the ¥112.70 level. This represented the pair’s first foray into the ¥113 handle since May 2004 and the pair absorbed a ¥113.00 option barrier. Stops were hit above the figure and pushed the pair higher by ten pips or so. Options traders now cite barriers around the ¥113.25 and ¥113.50 levels, below which offers are said to be in place. Some dealers are citing some potential political problems for Prime Minister Koizumi as a drag on the yen given an upcoming vote on privatization of the massive postal system. Data released in Japan today saw H1 2005 machine tool orders rise 16.2% y/y to ¥672.8 billion while the June consumer sentiment index reached a four-year high in June. Finance minister Tanigaki reported his ministry is “carefully” watching exchange rate moves while MoF’s Watanabe again called on China to revalue its yuan currency quickly. Other data released today saw June convenience store sales fall 1.3% y/y to ¥548.7 billion, the eleventh straight decline. Also, Japanese small firms’ business sentiment improved in the April-June period. Nikkei cited a poll that indicated consumer sentiment reached a four-year high in June and also reported that summer bonuses climbed 3.31% y/y. Recent Japanese economic data have largely improved and it is significant that retail prices seem to be nearing or are at the zero per cent mark. It is probable, however, that Bank of Japan will not unwind its quantitative easing policy until 2006 at the earliest. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.21% to close at ¥11,789.35. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥112.30/ 10 levels. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥136.70 level and was supported around the ¥135.60 level. Stops were triggered above the ¥136.15 level. In Chinese news, it was reported that H1 GDP expanded 9.5% y/y and Standard & Poor’s upgraded China’s sovereign debt rating by one notch to A-minus. On the revaluation front, six-month yuan non-deliverable forwards are currently pricing in a 3.7% appreciation. Other data released today saw H1 PPI and CPI up 5.6% y/y and 2.3% y/y, respectively.

The British pound extended its slide vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the $1.7320 level and was capped around the $1.7425 level. It was a volatile day for sterling during Asian and European dealing as traders jostled their positions ahead of the release of the July Bank of England Monetary Policy meeting minutes. Policymakers’ voted to keep interest rates unchanged was revealed to be a closer-than-expected 5-4 and the minutes were surprisingly dovish. The majority argued that a rate cut now could be misconstrued as a response to recent weaker-than-expected U.K. Q2 GDP data. Most traders now believe an August MPC rate cut of 25bps is a foregone conclusion. Data released in the U.K. today saw CML mortgage lending rise 20% in June to ₤11.9 billion from ₤9.9 billion in May. Another negative for the pound was data that evidenced a ₤5.9 billion public sector net borrowing in June, considerably worse than the June 2004 shortfall of ₤4.4 billion. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7420 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6965 level and remained supported around the ₤0.6910 level. Traders are beginning to eye the psychologically-important ₤0.7000 figure, a level traders have not seen since 18 January of this year.


The Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2925 level after capping out around the CHF 1.3010 level. The pair established a fresh multi-month higher yesterday but was mostly bid during the Asian and European sessions today. Today’s low is right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2700 to CHF 1.3080. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2885/ 40 levels. The euro and British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency and sterling tested bids around the CHF 1.5620 and CHF 2.2435 levels, respectively.


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