Thursday September 22, 2005 - 14:26:51 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (22 September 2005)
The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2185 level after testing offers around the $1.2270 level. Stops were reached above the $1.2245 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.3480 to $1.1870. The dollar’s upside ability is capped now on account of hurricane Rita that is barreling across the Gulf of Mexico as a category five storm. Up to 25% or so of the U.S.’s oil refining capacity is jeopardized by this storm, along with millions of people, and traders do not want to be long too many dollars in case the warnings of “catastrophic damage” come to fruition. The November NYMEX crude oil futures contract was trading in the high $67 handle earlier today and some energy traders are warning it’s only a matter of time before the $70 figure is tested again. On a macroeconomic level, economists are warning that gas could spike above the $4.00 level if this storm is very damaging and that could significantly imperil U.S. consumption and final private demand. The Federal Reserve this week voted to tighten monetary policy despite the devastation of hurricane Katrina and if Rita brings similar effects, many more traders will begin to second-guess the Fed and the dollar could come under selling pressure. Another factor that is impacting the energy markets and the FX markets today is a report that Nigerian militants are threatening to attack that country’s oil production facilities. Data released in the U.S. today saw weekly initial jobless claims print at 432,000, up 8,000 from last week’s revised number. Continuing claims came in around 2.66 million, up marginally. The big question on traders’ minds is how they will begin to develop forecasts for the upcoming September non-farm payrolls report, especially given the difficulty in assessing how many displaced workers there are in the gulf region. In eurozone news, Italian finance minister Siniscalco resigned to take responsibility for that country’s widening public budget deficit that is now predicted to expand to around 5% of GDP. All eyes will remain on embattled Bank of Italy Governor Fazio to see if his involvement in a mergers scandal ultimately costs him his job. Data released in the eurozone saw July industrial orders fall 1.6% m/m and climb 1.2% y/y. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2250/ 85 levels.
The yen lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥111.80 level and was supported around the ¥111.05 level. The pair stopped short of testing technical offers seen around the ¥111.90/ 112.00 levels overnight and pulled back in European dealing. The Japanese government maintained its assessment of the economy overnight, noting the economy is “recovering at a moderate pace” and upgraded its assessment of capital spending and housing starts. This represents the first time the government has upgraded its assessment of capital spending since September 2003. Recently-released Japanese GDP data for the April-June period were upwardly revised to reflect improved corporate spending. Other components of the Japanese economy including consumption and exports were described today as “increasing moderately” and “picking up.” Data released in Japan overnight saw the August merchandise trade balance recede 79.7% y/y to ¥116.26 billion, the fifth consecutive monthly decline. Notably, Japan’s trade deficit with China was up 38.9% to ¥287.1 billion. Other data released overnight saw the tertiary index fall 0.8% m/m in July and it improved 1.0% y/y, the 23rd consecutive monthly increase. Similarly, the all-industries index was off 0.8% m/m and was up 0.4% y/y. Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Iwata, who earlier this month said the central bank was “very close” to endings its ultra-accommodative monetary policy, today said the central bank will keep its policy intact until there is a rise in the consumer price index. This in fact is one criterion the BoJ has stated must be met before the long-standing quantitative easing policy can begin to be unwound. Interestingly, the yen gained decent ground on its crosses following a report that China may be getting ready to widen the the yuan’s trading band. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.28% to close at ¥13,159.36. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥110.75/ 35 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.75 level and was capped around the ¥136.50 level. Stops were triggered above the ¥136.20 level during the cross’s earlier move higher today but this level could not be held. The British pound and Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥199.85 and ¥87.40 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at the CNY 8.0881 level, down from CNY 8.0911. Former People’s Bank of China policymaker Li Yang was quoted today as saying “China will expand the (yuan’s) trading band gradually while keeping the yuan's exchange rate basically stable.” A Communist Party official was quoted today as saying China may invest more of its massive foreign exchange reserves in energy assets over U.S. Treasuries. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange today confirmed it will allow financial institutions to hold more foreign exchange. Data released in China today saw industrial profits rise 20.7% in the January – August period. Perhaps the biggest story in China overnight was the jockeying for position that is taking place ahead of this week’s G7 meeting. Bush administration officials including Treasury Secretary Snow have said they will engage China on further liberalization of its FX regime. China, on the other hand, argues that Japan’s acceptance of the Plaza Accord twenty years ago damaged Japan and coincided with the beginning of its “bubble economy.” Most traders are interpreting these remarks as a warning from China that it does not want to be bullied or lectured at this weekend’s G7 meeting.
The British pound depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7945 level and was capped around the $1.8145 level. Stops were reached below the $1.8010 level, representing the 38.2% retracement of the move from $1.9215 to $1.7270. CBI’s monthly industrial trends survey reported that total orders continued to decline with the total order book improving slightly to -27 from -29. This improvement, however, was less-than-expected and the previous month’s balance of -29 was the weakest since October 2003 and this knocked the pound lower. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7990 level. The euro moved sharply higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6800 figure and was supported around the £0.6745 level.
The Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2760 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2655 level. Technically, today’s high was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1735 to CHF 1.3080. Data released in Switzerland today saw August exports rise 6.5% y/y to CHF 11.179 billion. In other news, UBS reduced its 2005 GDP forecast to 1.3% from 1.6% and lowered its 2006 forecast to 1.6% from 1.8%. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2700 figure. The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5545 level while the British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 2.2850 level.
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