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Wednesday September 28, 2005 - 13:42:06 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (28 September 2005)

The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2040 level and was supported around the $1.2005 level. The common currency yesterday traded at levels not seen since 27 July as other Federal Reserve officials joined the chorus of recent policymakers who have hawkishly talked up interest rates. San Francisco Fed President Yellen said “one option that is clearly not on the table is allowing an unacceptable rise in inflation” and added the Fed “cannot take it for granted that inflation expectations will remain well-contained.” She also said the anticipated fiscal spending plans to rebuild hurricane-ravaged areas in the south “could propel the U.S. economy on an unsustainable upward trajectory.” Her comments were seconded by remarks from Kansas City Fed President Hoenig who later said the Fed “must ensure price stability” following the damage of the hurricanes. Fed Vice Chairman Ferguson and U.S. Treasury Secretary are expected to make similar remarks today. Fed Chairman Greenspan spoke for the second time in as many days yesterday and talked about “economic flexibility.” Greenspan said “The flexibility of our market-driven economy has allowed us, thus far, to weather reasonably well the steep rise in spot and future prices of oil and natural gas that we have experienced over the past two years. Although the business cycle has not disappeared, flexibility has made the economy more resilient to shocks and more stable overall during the past couple of decades.” Greenspan also defended the handling of the stock market’s bubble in the late 1990s and 2000, saying the Fed “would have needed to risk precipitating a significant recession, with unknown consequences” if it was going to pop the bubble. Data released in the U.S. today saw August headline durable goods orders print at 3.3%, better-than-expected, while the ex-transportation figure came in at +4.2%. July’s durable goods results were downwardly revised further into negative territory but traders were impressed with last month’s report. It remains to be seen how the recent hurricanes impact the September durables numbers when they are released in about a month. Dealers are still talking about the very weak consumer confidence data that were released in the U.S. yesterday, a clear reflection of the hurricanes’ impact. In eurozone news, Germany’s September GfK consumer climate index came in at 3.3, up marginally from August’s 3.2 reading and the October reading is currently predicted to come in around 3.1. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2045/ 85 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥112.85 level and was capped around the ¥113.40 level. The pair printed just below the ¥113.50 level and was about twenty pips below a recent high not seen since May 2004. Bank of Japan Policy Board member Suda prompted yen-buying today when she said “I personally want to assess whether (the year-on-year change in) consumer prices is staying stably above zero as a key factor in deciding (when) to lift the quantitative easing policy, and I feel the timing for an end to the policy is nearing.” She said she expects CPI to be positive before the end of 2005 but added “Until the commitments (on consumer price inflation) are fulfilled, I think it is better to maintain the current reserve target. A reduction of the reserve target level… could be misinterpreted as an exit from the quantitative easing policy.” BoJ policymakers have clearly been preparing the markets for the eventual unwinding of the central bank’s long-standing quantitative easing in recent weeks while government officials have been quick to point out that deflation remains a problem for the economy. Traders are also preparing themselves for next week’s quarterly Tankan survey of corporate sentiment. Most economists expect a slight improvement in the diffusion index of manufacturers’ sentiment over May’s results. Friday represents the end of Japan’s fiscal half-year and many traders believe the exchange markets could become more active next week. The yen also got a boost today from further advances in the Nikkei 225 stock index which edged higher to fresh four-year highs, up 0.95% to ¥13,435.91. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥112.55 level. The euro was little-changed vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥136.20 level and was supported around the ¥135.80 level. The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the cross tested bids around the ¥199.50 level while the Swiss franc strengthened vis-à-vis the yen as the cross tested offers around the ¥87.50 level. The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0939, up from CNY 8.0920. A Chinese government institute today issued a report that said “Now that foreign investment can not be counted on, the burden on exports is much heavier. We wouldn't suggest that the yuan be allowed to appreciate further or that controls on the capital account be further loosened.” Regarding macroeconomic measures, the report added “To prevent obvious oversupply, tightening policies should be taken over investment growth.” Some prominent Chinese economists are calling on the government there to engage in an expansionary fiscal policy in order to counter a possible threat of deflation.

The British pound extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7640 level and was capped around the $1.7715 level. Cable has not been this week since 1 August and sterling crumbled today after the release of weak Q2 U.K. growth data. It was reported that the U.K. economy expanded at an unrevised 0.5% q/q in Q2 with the annual pace downwardly revised to 1.5% from 1.8%. These data mean the U.K. economy expanded at its slowest rate in some twelve years and overall growth for 2005 could be considerably light as a result. Another downer for the pound today was a slump in U.K. retail sales to their worst-ever September performance. Specifically, a net balance of 50% of retailers surveyed by CBI reported sales were off this month compared with September 2004 and this represents the worst performance in at least 22 years. Expectations for the October CBI report are also quite gloomy. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7725 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6815 level and was supported around the £0.6785 level.


The Swiss franc gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2915 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2970 level. Data released in Switzerland today saw the KOF economic barometer improve to 0.77 this month from a revised figure of 0.70 last month. These data suggest Swiss growth may accelerate marginally in Q4. Importantly, KOF reported this trend is likely to continue through at least Q1 2006. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2865 level. The euro was flat vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency orbited the CHF 1.5565 area while the British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 2.2805 level.


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