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Wednesday September 7, 2005 - 14:36:45 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (7 September 2005)

The euro came off moderately vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2415 level and was capped around the $1.2537 level. The common currency’s descent during European dealing and early North American dealing was abrupt despite the release of lower-than-expected Q2 U.S. non-farm productivity data that saw a 1.8% annualized increase, off from last month’s 2.2% estimate. This represents the slowest increase since Q3 2004 and over the past year, productivity has gained 2.2%, the slowest pace in more than two years. Traders likely focused on another component of today’s economic release, however, specifically unit labour costs, an important measure of price pressures. They were up 2.5% in Q2 and 4.2% over the past year – the fastest y/y climb since Q3 2000. Federal Reserve policymakers – including Chairman Greenspan – have expressed repeated concern with rising labour costs and the U.S. dollar gained ground on the premise that these data may encourage the Fed to tighten monetary policy and raise rates on 20 September rather than pause to assess the economic and financial impact from the hurricane Katrina. The U.S. economy underwent a remarkable period of high productivity rates and low wage price pressures between 2002 and 2004 thus today’s data may just evidence a cyclical reversal of that environment. The latest commentary from a Fed official, namely Chicago Fed President Moskow, comes this afternoon and market participants will closely monitor it to see if he offers any clues about current Fed thinking. The Fed’s Beige Book will be released today and San Francisco Fed President Yellen will speak tomorrow. In eurozone news, July industrial output climbed 1.2% m/m, above expectations of a 0.5% decline, while construction output gained 0.1%. French finance minister Breton today said “everything must be done” to reduce his country’s budget deficit below the 3% limit imposed by the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2495 and $1.2645 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥110.25 level and remained supported around the ¥109.40 level. Technically, today’s high represents the 50% retracement of the move from ¥111.75 to ¥108.75. Dealers cited some nervous yen-selling ahead of this Sunday’s general election in Japan where incumbent Prime Minister Koizumi and his revamped Liberal Democratic Party could face a tough challenge. Public opinion polls have Koizumi and the LDP ahead and an LDP victory would likely mean a continuation of Koizumi’s reform-minded agenda, including privatization of the massive postal savings system. Data released in Japan today saw the July index of leading economic indicators recede to 50.0 in July from 63.6 in June, better-than-forecast, while the coincident index fell to 22.2 from 100.0, its first fall below the boom-or-bust 50.0 line in five months. Other data released overnight saw Japan’s foreign exchange reserves grow by US$ 8.39 billion last month to US$ 847.77 billion, the third increase in nine months. This means Japan has maintained the highest level of foreign exchange reserves in the world for 69 consecutive months. From an economic activity standpoint, this is beneficial for the U.S. economy because a high percentage of those foreign exchange reserves are recycled into the U.S. debt market, keeping U.S. interest rates low. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.06% to close at ¥12,607.59. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.25 and ¥108.90 levels. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥137.40 level and was supported around the ¥136.25 level. Today’s low on this cross was just above the 50% retracement of the move from ¥138.85 to ¥133.50. The British pound and Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥202.60 and ¥89.00 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback closed at the CNY 8.0925 level, above yesterday’s close of CNY 8.0913. Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the U.S. today for his first official U.S. visit as President. The European Commission confirmed that it has reached a deal with China to resolve their current textile dispute but China has called the deal “only a short-term solution.” Japan’s Nikkei today reported China will promote a growth rate of 9% for the next five-year period beginning in 2006. People’s Bank of China’s Yu Yongding today said “there is no need for China’s central bank to further adjust benchmark interest rates.” Yu also called on the Chinese government to expand fiscal spending in 2006 because an export growth level of 30% is “going to be difficult to maintain.”

The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8360 level and was capped around the $1.8460 level. Technically, today’s high was just below the 61.8% retracement of the move from $1.9215 to $1.7265. Data released in the U.K. today saw Nationwide consumer confidence fall marginally m/m in August while NIESR reported U.K. economic growth is improving. Also, Halifax today reported that August house prices moved 1.6% higher m/m, the strongest rate since September 2004. Notably, however, Nationwide reported last week that house prices fell last month thus today’s survey does not have definite repercussions on monetary policy. Other data released today saw the British Retail Consortium report that shop price inflation remained tame last month, off 0.48% y/y and up 0.19% m/m. Cable offers are cited around the $1.8470 level. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6755 level and was capped around the £0.6795 level.


The Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2430 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2310 level. Stops were reached above the CHF 1.2405 level, representing the 50% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1735 to CHF 1.3080. Swiss National Bank member Hildebrand speaks tomorrow and the Swiss August unemployment rate will be released tomorrow. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2275 level. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5425 level while the British pound was flat vis-à-vis the Swiss franc after testing bids around the CHF 2.2710 level.


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