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Wednesday September 14, 2005 - 13:47:32 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (14 September 2005)

The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2330 level and was supported around the $1.2255 level. Technically, the common currency traded above the $1.2310/ 15 level, representing the 38.2% retracement of the $1.1870 to $1.2590 range. The pair spiked to intraweek highs following the release of a mixed bag of U.S. economic news that saw headline August retail sales fall a worse-than-expected 2.1% while the ex-autos component climbed +1.0%. Many U.S. automobile manufacturers are offering deep rebate programs hence the lack of buying activity in the sector is worrying to economists. Retail sales improved 1.8% and 1.7% in July and June, respectively. Another reason why the dollar has been pressured today is the resilient price of crude oil futures as the NYMEX nearby remains bid above $63.00 and London Brent crude traded just shy of $62.00. Other data released in the U.S. today saw August industrial production increase 0.1% while August capacity utilization printed at 79.8%. In eurozone news, IWH – the German economic institute – lowered its 2005 GDP forecast for Germany to 0.9% from 1.1% and maintained its 2006 GDP forecast of 1.5%. European Central Bank President Trichet spoke about the eurozone economy today and said “At the time of my last appearance before the European Parliament in July, the underlying trend in real economic growth in the euro area remained modest. Looking ahead, we expected that positive fundamental factors -- notably strong global demand and robust earnings in the euro area -- would contribute to a certain pick up and a broadening of economic activity. The latest data and indicators have not changed this assessment.” Trichet cautioned, however, that oil prices could potentially have a “further dampening impact” and noted inflation risks remain “tilted to the upside.” The common currency’s potential to appreciate further could be limited in the near-term by uncertainty ahead of this Sunday’s German election. Chancellor Schroeder’s SDP party and Angela Merkel’s CDU party are said to be running close in public opinion polls and the lack of a decisive, clear-cut victor could be bad news for much-needed German economic and financial reforms. Bank of France today indicated it sees Q3 GDP growth of 0.3% q/q in France while French finance minister Breton said 2006 GDP growth should exceed 2.0%.”

¥/ CNY

The yen reversed course and appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥109.90 level after encountering offers around the ¥110.80 level. Dealers moved into yen following comments from Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Iwata who indicated the BoJ is “very close” to ending its long-standing quantitative easing policy. Iwata said “We have a good prospect of overcoming deflation by adopting a step-by-step approach (to monetary policy) based on a price stability anchor.” Iwata’s comments followed similar remarks published on the central bank’s website on Monday but attributed to him at the Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole symposium last month. He added “It also seems necessary to retain the transparent commitment on policy duration in order to prevent abrupt changes in long-term interest rates in the transition process to reach a new equilibrium.” Some BoJ officials have noted that core consumer prices are right around zero per cent now in Japan and many traders believe the central bank will begin to unwind its quantitative easing policy in H2 2006. The yen is likely to appreciate when this happens because Japanese interest rates will begin to normalize and international investors will begin to seek yield in Japanese debt markets. BoJ Policy Board member Fukuma also spoke overnight and said the central bank should reduce its current account surplus target from ¥30 – 35 trillion to ¥27 – 32 trillion. Fukuma is one of two Policy Board members who favour a reduction in the target at this time. Data released in the Japan today saw August Tokyo department store sales fall 6.1% y/y to ¥120.8 billion while August Tokyo condominium sales improved 12.7% y/y. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.52% to close at ¥12,834.25. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.90/ 25 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.30 level and was capped around the ¥136.05 level. The cross stopped about ten pips short of testing technical resistance around the ¥136.15/ 20 level and stops were triggered below the ¥135.70 level. Chartists are now eyeing the ¥135.15 level. The British pound and Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥200.85 and ¥87.45 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at the CNY 8.0912 level, down from yesterday’s close of CNY 8.0940. European Central Bank President Trichet today said G7 officials will discuss Asian currencies when policymakers convene in Washington, D.C. this month. Trichet said the “main message collectively is to call for a smooth, orderly appreciation of the currencies of some emerging Asian countries.” Data released in China today saw August industrial value-added output up 16.0% y/y while August wholesale prices rose 2.1% y/y. Wholesale prices were up 3.3% in the January – August period. On the political front, President Bush accepted President Hu Jintao’s invitation to visit China in November.

The British pound rallied vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8295 level and was supported around the $1.8215 level. Technically, the pair stopped just short of testing short-term technical resistance around the $1.8300 figure, representing the 38.2% retracement of the move from $1.8495 to $1.8180. Data released in the U.K. saw average earnings, ex-bonuses, increase 3.9% in the three months to July y/y, off 0.1% from June’s quarterly rate. Notably, this was the lowest increase since February 2004 and was below market expectations. These data could be a comfort to Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee members who want to keep average earnings growth below 4.5%. Other data released today saw the August claimant count of unemployment rise for the seventh consecutive month, up 1,600 m/m to 866,200 – the highest tally since April 2004. July’s increase was downwardly revised to 1,600 from 2,800 and over the previous twelve months, the claimant count has increased 31,400. The unemployment rate printed at 2.8% while the ILO unemployment rate came in at 4.7%. Cable offers are cited around the $1.8335 level. The euro was flat vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6740 level and was supported around the £0.6720 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2545 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2620 level. Today’s low was around 20 pips below the 38.2% retracement level of the move from CHF 1.1740 to CHF 1.3080. Swiss National Bank will release its quarterly monetary policy assessment tomorrow and is not expected to alter monetary policy. Data released in Switzerland today saw the number of bankruptcies between January and August fall 0.2% to 6,927. Q2 Swiss industrial production data will be released on Friday. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2465 level. The euro and British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5460 and 2.2925 levels, respectively.


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