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Tuesday September 13, 2005 - 14:16:55 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (13 September 2005)

The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2245 level and was capped around the $1.2315 level. The common currency spiked to intraday lows after the release of U.S. economic data that saw the July trade deficit narrow to –US$ 57.9 billion from June’s US$ -58.8 billion tally. This was better than most forecasts and traders will focus on Friday’s Treasury International Capital data to make sure foreign investment inflows into the U.S. covered the trade deficit two months ago. Other data released in the U.S. today saw the August headline producer price index print at +0.6%, down from July’s +1.0% rate, while the ex-food and energy “core” measure was unchanged, down from July’s +0.4% rate. Likewise, the annualized core CPI measured 2.4% y/y, down from 2.8% y/y. These data could be some short-term relief for the bond market as they in theory mean less pressure on the Federal Open Market Committee to tighten policy at next Tuesday’s rate-setting meeting. Fed officials have been worried about elevated energy costs and data that suggest price pressures are having some second-round effects by creeping into wages. Dallas Fed President Fisher yesterday suggested the economic impact caused by hurricane Katrina “will be temporary” and this – along with recent comments from Fed officials Moskow and Yellen – have most traders thinking the Fed will tighten policy and raise rates by +25bps next week. NYMEX crude futures are again trading with a US$ 63 handle today but are some US$ 7.00 less than the record highs reached a couple of weeks ago. In eurozone news, provisional German August harmonized inflation was upwardly revised to a final +0.2% m/m and +1.9% y/y while French CPI inflation moved higher in August by 1.8%, up from July’s 1.7% rate. Both the German and French CPI numbers were hotter-than-expected and will be closely watched by the European Central Bank. The euro continues to be pressured ahead of Sunday’s election between the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. The latter, the incumbents, are said to be narrowing the former’s lead and the prospect of a less-than-decisive victory by either party could be bad news for much-needed German economic and financial reform. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2315 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers just above the ¥111.00 figure and remained supported around the ¥110.10 level. This was the first time the pair traded with a ¥111 handle since 31 August but it failed to stray far from the 38.2% retracement level of the ¥106.50 to ¥113.70 range. Dealers cited today’s price activity as profit-taking following the landslide victory by Prime Minister Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party in Sunday’s election. One interesting sidebar story has emerged on the political front and that involves Economy Minister Takenaka who is said to oppose privatization of the postal system as this time. Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Iwata today said the central bank may be able to end its long-standing quantitative easing policy soon. This follows a remark he made on 27 August at the Kansas City Fed’s symposium wherein he stated “currently we have good prospects to exit from a decade-long period of deflation. The rate of change in the consumer price index, excluding institutional and special factors such as oil, telephone charges, rice and fresh food, (has been) registering virtually zero in recent months.” He added market participants "who once appeared to be skeptical of our scenario of registering a 0.3 percent rise in core CPI in fiscal 2006 (ending in March 2007), now seem to anticipate the likely end of the current (quantitative monetary easing) policy regime within one year. Now we have reached the stage where it can be said that a long time is not needed to satisfy the conditions to end the quantitative easing policy.” An end to this policy could very well see the yen appreciate. Iwata’s remarks came the same day the minutes of Bank of Japan’s Policy Board meeting of 8-9 August were released. Two BoJ policymakers voted to reduce the ¥30-35 trillion liquidity target for banks. Data released in Japan today saw July industrial output fall 1.2% m/m, worse than the initial 1.1% estimate. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.04% to close at ¥12,901.95. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥110.25 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥136.25 level and was supported around the ¥135.40 level. Technically, today’s high was just above the 38.2% retracement 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 ¥202.20 and ¥88.05 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback closed at the CNY 8.0940 level, above yesterday’s close at CNY 8.0924. President Hu Jintao is in North America and will likely meet with U.S. President Bush today during his first official visit as Chinese president. Given China’s decision to revalue the yuan on 21 July, it is unlikely that Bush will pressure China much regarding the yuan’s value. Trade pacts and disputes will likely be at the top of the economic agenda they will discuss. Data released in China today saw actual foreign direct investment fall 0.26% y/y to USD 4.9 billion in August and this took FDI down 3.02% in the January – August period y/y to US$ 37.99 billion. Also, China’s M2 money supply grew at its fastest rate in more than one year in August and some traders see this as a sign that China is trying to curb nascent deflationary pressures. It was also reported that People’s Bank of China is reducing the amount of sterilization it is conducting, a sign it may be moving to a neutral monetary policy. Other data released today saw August retail sales climb 12.5% y/y to CNY 504.1 billion.

The British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8250 level and was supported around the $ 1.8180 level. Given recent moves, the pair’s range today has been fairly limited. Technically, cable stopped just short of testing the 23.6% retracement level of the move from $1.8495 to $1.8180. Data released in the U.K. today saw August annual CPI inflation reach its highest level since at least January 1997 on account of rising oil and transportation prices. Last month’s rate printed at 2.4%, up from July’s 2.3% level that represented the previous high in the data series. This means U.K. CPI inflation is now higher than the average rate of inflation in the European Union and means the annual rate has been at or above the Bank of England’s 2.0% target for three consecutive months. This lessens the likelihood of additional monetary easing but many traders note that the central bank predicted a “temporary rise” above the 2.0% ceiling target in the forecasts it released last month. CPI was up 0.4% m/m last month, consistent with expectations. Notably, however, the annualize core rate receded to 1.7% last month from 1.8% in July. On the political front, Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown again spoke about the impact of higher oil prices today and called for “concerted global action” to reduce prices. Cable offers are cited around the $1.8305 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6730 level and was capped around the £0.6755 level.


The Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2635 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2545 level. Today’s high represents the pair’s strongest level since 31 August and today’s low was about 20 pips below the CHF 1.1740 – CHF 1.3080 range. Swiss National Bank will release its quarterly policy assessment on Thursday and is not expected to alter monetary policy. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2465 level. The euro and British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5485 and 2.2990 levels, respectively.


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