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Monday August 15, 2005 - 13:04:42 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (15 August 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2360 level and was capped around the $1.2465 level. Traders moved into U.S. dollars ahead of today’s June U.S. Treasury International Capital (TIC) flows data that many dealers believe will cover the US$ 58.8 billion June trade gap that was reported on Friday. Albeit Friday’s number was US$ 3.4 billion larger than expected, portfolio inflows are expected to cover the gap. The dollar, however, has been on the defensive recently as traders have started to price in stronger economic performance in the eurozone and higher interest rates – perhaps as early as next year. Additionally, traders have started to focus on structural issues that plagued the dollar last year including the trade balance and budget deficit with less emphasis on cyclical factors such as economic growth and interest rate differentials. The dollar has been unable to gain significant traction following positive economic numbers that have supported the greenback for most of the year. This asymmetric response could play out further this week when CPI, housing, and capacity utilization data are released tomorrow followed by PPI data on Wednesday. In eurozone news, Bundesbank’s August monthly report indicated the “real” problem in the European Union is EU-wide weak economic growth and not “discrepancies in GDP growth rates.” On the inflation front, Bundesbank reported rocketing oil prices are not yet having second-round effects on core inflation in the eurozone. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2485 level and euro bids are seen around the $1.2345 level.

¥/ RMB

The yen lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥109.75 level and was supported around the ¥109.35 level. The pair tumbled from the ¥112.60 level to the ¥109.30 level last week and stopped just shorting of testing bids around the 61.8% retracement level (¥109.23) of the move from ¥106.50 to ¥113.70. Liquidity was thin in Tokyo overnight with some trading desks on skeleton crews for the Obon festival holiday. Prime Minister Koizumi, who dissolved the Japanese parliament last week and called a snap election for 11 September, has seen his popularity ratings rocket to over 50%. This could benefit the yen over the next four weeks as traders discount more of a chance that Koizumi will retain power and be able to advance his reformist agenda, possibly including privatization of the massive postal savings system. Traders cite some potential yen-buying pressure this week on account of repatriation of U.S. Treasury coupon payments. Japanese investors own hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. Treasuries and these repatriations may move the market. Similarly, it is estimated the foreign investors have invested some ¥1.3 trillion into Japanese equities over the past month and this has also led to some yen buying. Data released in Japan overnight saw July Tokyo-area department store sales rise 1.2% y/y to ¥184.6 billion. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.04% today to close at ¥12,256.55. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.25/ ¥108.90 levels and dollar offers are seen around the ¥110.05/55 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.50 level and was capped around the ¥136.40 level. The British pound and Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥198.10 and ¥87.30 levels, respectively. In Chinese news, it was reported that January – July actual foreign direct investment was off 3.42% y/y at US$ 33.09 billion while contracted foreign direct investment was up 19.23% y/y at US$98.64 billion. Also, industrial value-added output was up 16.3% during the same period. People’s Bank of China announced it will inaugurate interest rate derivate products to assist in hedging financial risks, including interest rate swaps and options.

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8075 level and failed to move through offers around the $1.8170 level. Sterling has moved from the $1.7330 level to the $1.8175 level since late July and today’s sell-off has been the dollar’s only reprieve in several sessions. Data released overnight saw property website Rightmove report the U.K. housing market continues to slow. Labour market data are scheduled for release on Wednesday and CPI data will be released tomorrow. Sterling gained ground last week following Bank of England’s hawkish quarterly inflation report that led many dealers to believe the central bank’s 25bps monetary easing this month may be a one-off event and not the beginning of a deeper easing cycle. Other data released today saw BRC report that July retail sales lessened 8.9% y/y – the lowest since at least October 2002. Cable offers are cited around the $1.8240 level and cable bids are seen around the $1.7980 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6825 level and was capped around the £0.6860 level.


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