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Wednesday October 19, 2005 - 14:30:08 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (19 October 2005)

The euro moved marginally lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.1875 level but quickly recovered by moving above the $1.1900 figure. This is the first time the common currency traded with a $1.18 handle since July of this year and the pair came within ten pips of testing levels not seen since May 2004. Federal Reserve officials continue to talk up U.S. interest rates and this is benefiting the dollar. Fed Vice Chairman Ferguson yesterday predicted that energy costs will add some 0.5% to core CPI in the U.S. in 2006. Ferguson said “removing monetary accommodation at a 'measured' pace is most likely to promote our broader objectives of price stability and maximum sustainable growth.” San Francisco Fed President Yellen spoke yesterday and said the current fed funds target rate of 3.75% is near the lower end of her estimate of the neutral fed funds rate, and described this range as 3.50% to 5.50%. This implies the Fed may have more room to tighten policy than some of the more hawkish forecasts being issued now. Other Fed officials will speak later today including New York Fed President Geithner. The Federal Open Market Committee will convene on 1 November and is expected to lift the fed funds target rate by +25bps to 4.00% at that time. Data released in the U.S. today saw September housing starts improve 3.4% to 2.108 million while building permits were up +2.4% to 2.189 million units. Options traders had cited some options-related bids above the $1.1900 figure that were taken out during the move lower. There is also anecdotal evidence that central banks and monetary authorities are selling dollars for euros below the $1.2000 figure. Ukraine’s central bank became the latest to publicly state it is diversifying its foreign exchange reserves in favour of other major currencies. In eurozone news, Germany’s six leading economic institutes are said to be preparing a report that predicts the country’s 2006 budget deficit will breach the EU’s 3.0% Stability and Growth Pact limit. August EMU-12 industrial output was up 0.8% m/m and 2.6% y/y, stronger-than-expected. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2015/ 85 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested just below the ¥116.00 figure and was supported around the ¥115.30 level. Options traders cite defensive offers below the figure and these prevented the pair from trading with a ¥116 handle and may have limited the dollar’s advance vis-à-vis other currencies. Today’s high, however, represents a fresh multi-year high going back to September 2003. One main driver of current yen weakness is said to be asset allocation by Japanese investors following Japan’s fiscal half-year end on 30 September. With G7 interest rates generally moving higher, Japanese investors are said to be investing heavily in foreign bonds. Another factor that is driving the yen lower at the present time is less hedging by Japanese institutional investors who are buying dollars to purchase foreign assets. The August all-industry and tertiary indices will be released in Japan tomorrow night. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 1.67% to close at ¥13,129.49. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥115.10/ 114.45 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥137.65 level and was capped around the ¥138.45 level. The British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥203.20 level while the Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥88.65 level. The Chinese yuan weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at the CNY 8.0924 level, up from CNY 8.0910. Chinese media quoted Premier Wen Jiabao as saying Chinese GDP will top CNY 15 trillion this year, above last year’s reported GDP level of CNY 13.65 trillion. Wen’s coincided with the release of some details from the economic component of China’s latest five-year plan. A People’s Bank of China official also reported that China will accelerate reform to its interest rate and foreign exchange regimes.

The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7590 level after testing bids around the $1.7425 level. Technically, the next upside target for the pair is the $1.7600 figure, representing the 50% retracement of the move from $1.7810 to $1.7390. The minutes of the October Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting were released today and they evidenced a unanimous decision to keep interest rates unchanged. There was no discussion at all about lower interest rates and dealers believe this lessens the chances of a monetary easing in November. Sterling went bid on these details because it implies higher demand for U.K. assets like fixed-income debt. The MPC also reiterated it will remain vigilant about any second-round price effects from inflationary pressures. MPC member Lambert today said “we are paying even more attention than usual at the moment to the various measures of inflation expectations - both those which can be calculated from prices in the financial markets, and those which come from a range of different polling sources.” Cable offers are cited around the $1.7650 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6795 level and was capped around the £0.6840 level.


The Swiss franc came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.3070 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2960 level. Today’s high was the pair’s strongest showing since 19 May of this year and was just shy of a multi-year high dating back to May 2004. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2910 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5510 level while the British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 2.2830 level.


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