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Tuesday October 18, 2005 - 15:15:22 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (18 October 2005)

The euro extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.1915 level and was capped around the $1.2030 level. Technically, today’s low was a mere fifteen pips from a recent multi-month low and dealers believe it is only a matter of time before the common currency trades with a $1.18 handle. Data released in the U.S. today saw headline U.S. wholesale prices escalate 1.9% last month, their largest jump in 31 years. The increase in producer price inflation was caused by a 7.1% increase in wholesale energy prices, the largest climb in fifteen years. Notably, the producer price index for finished goods has increased 6.9% over the past twelve months, the sharpest rise in fifteen years. The ex-food and energy PPI was up +0.3%, also hotter-than-expected. Remarks from Fed Chairman Greenspan in Tokyo overnight reflected the current environment of accruing price pressures. Greenspan said oil costs will inhibit economic growth for “some time to come.” Fed policymakers next convene on 1 November to deliberate monetary policy and they will remain very keen to see if factory-level price pressures are seeping into retail prices and wages. Most traders expect the Federal Open Market Committee to tighten policy by +25bps at both of their final two meetings in 2005. Other data released in the U.S. today saw August Treasury International Capital (TIC) portfolio flows print at US$ 91.3 billion, much higher than expected and above the U.S. trade gap around $59.0 billion two months ago. The dollar gained a small amount of ground after the release of the TIC data but also retraced, perhaps indicating an exhaustion point for today. In eurozone news, German September producer price inflation was up 0.4% m/m and 4.9% y/y. Harmonized EMU-12 CPI was up a final 2.6% y/y, up from the provisional reading of 2.5% y/y. This is the highest eurozone inflation rate since January 2002. European Central Bank President Trichet reported the central bank will “act decisively” if oil prices push domestic prices higher. Many traders believe the ECB will tighten policy as early as Q1 2006. Other German data released today saw the German ZEW indicator improve to 39.4 in October from 38.6 in September. EMU-12 labour costs gained 2.3% y/y in Q2, unchanged from the provisional estimate and down from 3.0% y/y in Q1. Euro offers are cited around the $1.1970/ 1.2015 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback surged to the ¥¥115.90 level and was supported around the ¥114.90 level. This represents the pair’s strongest print since September 2003 and chartists are now eyeing the ¥117.65 level as an upside target. Options traders cite offers just below the ¥116.00 figure and this may cap the dollar’s upside in the short-term. Bank of Japan Governor Fukui, who met yesterday with Fed Chairman Greenspan in Tokyo, today said “The year-on-year rate of change in consumer prices is projected to be 0.0%, or to show a slight increase towards the end of the year. And going forward...the year-on-year rise in the nationwide core CPI will gather further momentum.” This represents the latest comments from the central bank about its unorthodox monetary policy and quantitative easing as the BoJ has indicated it will begin to unwind its policy when there is positive inflation and no chance that deflation will return. In contrast, however, a BoJ Deputy Governor today intimated the central bank may maintain its current policy even for a while even if inflation is positive. Data released in Japan today saw the August index of leading indicators print at 100, up from July’s 45.5 level, while the coincident index receded to 88.0 from the preliminary reading of 88.9. Traders are also monitoring the international political fallout from Prime Minister Koizumi’s visit to a war shrine. Another factor that is leading to yen selling involves international portfolio allocations. The first half of Japan’s fiscal year concluded about three weeks ago and Japanese investors are said to buying foreign securities – and dollars – in droves. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.36% to close at ¥13,352.24. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥115.20/ 114.55 levels. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥138.65 level. The British pound and Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥ 202.50 and ¥89.20 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at the CNY 8.0910 level, up from CNY 8.0877. People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou rebuffed some requests from visiting U.S. officials about liberalizing China’s capital markets, saying “Opening the capital market will lead to more competition but there will be negative consequences. We should not commit childish errors to avoid paying an even higher price.”

The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7420 level after encountering offers around the $1.7545 level. Sterling moved higher from daily lows after the release of stronger-than-expected U.S. TIC data, suggesting the market was probably very long dollars. September CPI data released in the U.K. today saw a 2.5% increase in retail price pressures, up from 2.4% in August. These data, however, were below estimates of a 2.7% increase and were attributable to a spike in petroleum prices. The big question on traders’ minds is how this will impact next month’s Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting. Some dealers believe the MPC will ease policy by 25bps but others point to relatively hawkish remarks from BoE Governor King last week as an indication the central bank will not lower rates. A report on the U.K. housing sector was released today by RICS and it indicated house prices will appreciate for the fits time in eighteen months. Other U.K. data due this week include Q3 GDP and September retail sales data. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7560/ 1.7600 levels. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6825 level and was capped around the £0.6860 level.


The Swiss franc extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.3060 and was supported around the CHF 1.2920 level. The Swiss franc was weaker on most of its crosses today and led the market lower against the dollar. Data released in Switzerland today saw September producer and import prices up 0.7% m/m and 1.5% y/y. The increase in inflation reflected higher oil prices, a common theme among global economies. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2900 figure. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5565 and 2.2790 levels, respectively.


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