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Thursday September 15, 2005 - 14:11:12 GMT
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FX Market Commentary and Analysis (15 September 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2195 level and was capped around the $1.2290 level. Stops were triggered below the $1.2245 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.3480 to $1.1865. Data released in the U.S. today saw weekly initial jobless claims climb 71,000 to 398,000, reflecting the impact of hurricane Katrina on the U.S. labour market. Other data released today saw the August headline consumer price index grow +0.5% while the core CPI was up +0.1%. On an annualized basis, the core rate was unchanged at +2.1% y/y. These data reflect the impact of heightened energy prices on the U.S. economy. Also, July business inventories were released today and they printed at -0.5%, worse-than-expected, while sales were up +1.1%. Traders continue to speculate about what the Federal Open Market Committee will do when policymakers convene next Tuesday. The fed funds futures market is currently pricing in about a 15% change that the Fed will pause on Tuesday and not raise interest rates, down from around 33% earlier this month. It therefore remains highly likely that the Fed will tighten policy next week and raise the federal funds target rate by +25bps. In eurozone news, this weekend’s German election is said to be impacting the common currency still as the race is too close to call between Chancellor Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. The most likely outcome in traders’ minds now is a split German parliament and this would probably not bode well for much-needed German economic and financial reform. Germany, as the eurozone’s largest economic member, has registered sub-par economic growth for quite some time and has been a net drag on EMU-12 economic growth. Germany’s finance ministry today announced it plans to save some €120 billion by 2009 in an effort to reduce Germany’s structural budget deficit. The dollar’s gains today are impressive in light of move in NYMEX crude futures above the US$ 65.00 figure. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2250/ $1.2340 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥110.15 level and encountered offers around the ¥110.70 level. Technically, today’s low is just above the 50% retracement of the move from ¥106.45 to ¥113.70. Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Iwata spoke again today and said “it would not be strange if the core consumer price index starts posting year-on-year rises before the end of March 2006 if the Japanese economy continues to grow at a faster pace than its growth potential, which is considered to be at 1%.” BoJ officials have talked frequently about monetary policy lately and appear to be preparing the markets for an eventual unwinding of its long-standing quantitative easing policy. Data released in Japan today saw the July index of leading economic indicators downwardly revised to 45.5 from 50.0 and lower than June’s 63.3 tally. The July lagging index remained unchanged at 50.0. Other data released today saw August consumer confidence improve to 48.4 from 48.1 in July, the fourth improvement in five months. Also, capital flows data released overnight saw foreign investors as net buyers of ¥686.7 billion in Japanese equities last week, the thirteenth consecutive week they’ve been net buyers. Foreign investors, however, sold a net ¥171.2 billion in Japanese debt last week. Japanese investors purchased a net ¥104.5 billion in foreign equities and were net buyers of ¥682.9 in foreign debt. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.19% to close at ¥12,986.78 but did not trade above the psychologically-important ¥13,000 figure on an intraday basis. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥110.05/ ¥109.25 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥134.60 level and was capped around the ¥135.75 level. Technically, today’s low is right around the 76.4% retracement of the move from ¥133.50 to ¥137.85. The British pound and Swiss franc came off sharply vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥199.10 and ¥86.90 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0887, down from CNY 8.0912. Data released in China today saw January – August urban fixed-asset investment up 27.4% to CNY 4.12 trillion.

The British pound crashed sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8045 level after failing to get above the $1.8245 level. Stops were hit below the $1.8175 and $1.8080 levels. Data released in the U.K. today saw August retail sales unchanged m/m while July retail sales were sharply revised lower to -0.6% m/m from -0.3% m/m. Similarly, August retail sales climbed 0.8% y/y, worse-than-expected, down from 1.3% y/y in July. Traders sold sterling on these data on the premise that Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee may reduce interest rates further. Interestingly, MPC member Lambert downplayed the recent spike in U.K. inflation saying “it’s not today’s inflation rate that drives interest rate decisions. Rates take time to have an impact – so the bank must judge where the economy and inflation might be heading which is always uncertain.” Cable offers are cited around the $1.8160 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6770 level and was supported around the £0.6715 level.


The Swiss franc lost substantial ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2695 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2570 level. Swiss National Bank, as expected, kept interest rates unchanged in its quarterly monetary policy assessment today. The three-month LIBOR rate target remains at 0.25% - 1.25% and SNB will continue to target the middle of that range. The central bank tightened policy twice in 2004 but has not changed policy since September of last year. Data released in Switzerland today saw August import and producer prices rise 0.2% m/m and +1.0% y/y. Notably, import prices were up 1.4% y/y. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2565 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5485 level while the British pound came off and tested bids around the CHF 2.2835 level.


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