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Tuesday September 6, 2005 - 12:50:35 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (6 September 2005)

The euro came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency receded to the US$ 1.2440 level and was capped around the $1.2525 level. A move lower in crude oil prices lessened demand for the common currency as U.S. light crude is back trading below the $67.00 figure and October-dated Brent futures contracts were trading with a $65 handle. Given all of the uncertainty regarding the economic and financial impact of hurricane Katrina, a pullback in oil prices is important because it increases the likelihood that consumption will remain resilient and add positively to gross domestic product during Q3. Key data this week include Thursday’s U.S. oil inventory data that will provide clues about the reduction in energy production on account of Katrina. The overarching question on traders’ minds is whether or not the Federal Reserve will pause in their current monetary tightening cycle when the Federal Open Market Committee convenes on 20 September. Some Fed-watchers believe policymakers will not change policy and instead opt to see how much Katrina’s devastation impacts the economy. Other Fed-watchers believe the Fed will acknowledge the devastation it its statement but still raise interest rates by 25bps. The fed funds futures market does not currently believe the Fed will take the federal funds target rate too far past 3.75% by the end of the year. Core inflation has slowly been moving higher thus even if the Fed pauses this month, the pause is likely to be temporary as the Fed will want to avoid inflation. The August non-manufacturing ISM index will be released in the U.S. today and is expected to worsen for the second consecutive month. In eurozone news, German July manufacturing orders gained 3.7% m/m, exceeding forecasts for a decline. Also, EMU-12 retail sales were off 0.5% m/m in July and were unchanged y/y. European Central Bank-watchers continue to watch for any clues from monetary policymakers about the likely course of direction of eurozone interest rates. Most traders believe the ECB has recently adopted a more hawkish stance on account of oil price shocks but will not tighten policy until 2006. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2530 and $1.2645 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥109.75 level and was supported around the ¥109.10 level. The pair erased most of yesterday’s losses and is trading between the 50% and 61.8% retracement levels of the move from ¥106.50 to ¥113.70. A mixed bag of economic data were released in Japan overnight. On the positive side, it was reported that consumer confidence improved to 48.1 in July from 46.6 in June, the third improvement in four months. On the negative side, July household spending was off 4.2% m/m and 3.7% y/y, the fourth consecutive monthly decline. These data are important because they evidence lagging consumption and final private demand in an economy where consumer spending is vital to ending the long-standing battle against deflation. On the political scene, all attention will be focused on this Sunday’s general election in Japan as Prime Minister Koizumi’s revamped Liberal Democratic Party appears poised to coast to victory. An LDP victory is said to already be priced in the yen and a continuation of the Koizumi government will likely involve the passage of additional economic and financial reforms including the privatization of the postal savings system. The July leading economic index and coincident index will be released overnight. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.28% to close at ¥12,599.43. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥108.90 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥136.95 level and was supported around the ¥136.35 level. Technically, the cross is now trading around the 23.6% retracement level of the move from ¥133.50 to ¥137.85. The British pound and Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥202.40 and ¥88.70 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0913, down from CNY 8.0916 yesterday. Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit China from tomorrow and is expected to execute agreements with the U.S. government and U.S. industry on a variety of topics.

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8460 level after finding demand around the $1.8370 level. Mixed economic reports were released in the U.K. today. First, it was reported that the manufacturing sector registered its fourth consecutive monthly improvement in July. This is important because it means U.K. industry could make a positive contribution to GDP in Q3. This is important because consumption has been weak in the U.K. given the slowdown in the U.K. housing sector and this summer’s terrorist incidents in the U.K. Along these lines, BRC today reported that U.K. retail sales worsened for the sixth time in eight months in August, off 1.0% y/y but up from July’s 1.9% y/y fall. Other data released in the U.K. today saw REC report that pay pressures moved higher again in August. Most traders believe Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will not change interest rates when policymakers convene tomorrow and Thursday. Cable offers are cited around the $1.8470 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6760 level and was capped just below the £0.6800 figure. Technically, today’s high was just below the 38.2% retracement of the 2005 range in the cross.

The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2405 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2330 level. Technically, today’s high was right around the 50% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1735 to CHF 1.3080. Swiss National Bank member Hildebrand speaks on Thursday and August unemployment data will be released that day as well. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2280 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5420 level while the British pound moved higher to test offers around the CHF 2.2830 level.


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