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Thursday October 20, 2005 - 14:02:58 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 October 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.1945 level after testing offers around the $1.2000 figure. The common currency’s downside may be limited today by traders’ close observation of hurricane Wilma that is now forecast to strike the Yucatan peninsula and Florida. Yesterday, Wilma was described as the strongest hurricane on record and any inkling that it will disrupt oil-refinery operations in the already-smarting U.S. gulf could be dollar-negative and cause crude oil prices to spike. As expected, traders got another round of hawkish Fedspeak yesterday from monetary policymakers. Cleveland Fed President Pianalto yesterday reported higher interests may be required if longer-term inflation expectations grow while Dallas Fed President Fisher indicated he will continue to support policies that keep inflation at bay. Fed Governor Kohn, currently deemed a front-runner to assume Fed Chairman Greenspan’s position, said the Fed is “not yet at a point where (the Fed) can stop and watch the economy evolve for a while.” Kohn added “the outlook remains favourable for continued solid growth in real activity and low underlying inflation” but indicated the outlook “may be skewed a little toward the upside on inflation.” There has been near-unanimity in terms of the hawkishness exhibited by Fed policymakers lately and the Federal Open Market Committee will next deliberate policy on 1 November. Most Fed-watchers believe the Fed will tighten policy by +25bps at the next and final meeting of the year in December. Atlanta Fed President Guynn and St. Louis Fed President Poole are scheduled to speak today. Speaking about global economic imbalances yesterday, New York Fed President Geithner said the U.S.’s “external position is unsustainable and the adjustment process ahead could materially affect economic outcomes.” Data released in the U.S. today saw weekly initial jobless claims fall 35,000 to 355,000 while continuing claims were up slightly to 2.89 million. Traders will pay close attention to the October Philadelphia Fed index later in the day. In eurozone news, the EMU-12 trade balance printed at a deficit of €2.6 billion in August, down from a surplus of €7.9 billion in July. French consumer spending and Italian retail sales data are scheduled to be released tomorrow. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2035/ 75 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥115.75 level and remained supported around the ¥115.25 level. The pair came within a couple of pips of testing the psychologically-important ¥116.00 figure yesterday and today’s low coincides with the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥113.00 to ¥115.95. Bank of Japan Governor Fukui spoke overnight and reiterated “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 this year. This is because the negative contribution from (weak) rice prices is likely to dissipate and the effects of a reduction in electricity and telephone charges are also expected to ease.” Fukui, however, added the BoJ will keep monetary policy unchanged as long as the core CPI continues to decline year-on-year. Characterizing the Japanese economy, he added “The Japanese economy has finally crawled out of a lull which began in the summer of last year and is continuing to recover. Exports are rising moderately, while capital investment continues to expand and consumer spending is solid. Looking ahead, the economy is expected to maintain a gradual, but long-lasting recovery, since chances are high that exports will rise in line with a likely expansion of the overseas economy and that domestic demand, led by high corporate profits and an increase in wages, will also continue to expand. The central bank and government have recently been at odds publicly about the eventual unwinding of BoJ’s long-standing quantitative easing policy. Additionally, monetary policymakers continue to cite oil as the number one threat to corporate profits. Capital flows data released in Japan saw foreign investors as net buyers of ¥406.5 billion in Japanese equities in the week ending 14 October and were net sellers of ¥314.8 billion in Japanese debt. In contrast, Japanese investors purchased a net ¥41.8 billion in foreign equities and a net ¥193.1 billion in foreign debt. Data released in Japan saw same-store convenience store sales recede 0.3% y/y to ¥559.6 billion in September, the fourteenth consecutive monthly decline. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.46% to close at ¥13,190.46. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥115.10/ 114.80 levels. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.05 level after encountering resistance around the ¥138.55 level. The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥204.25 level while the Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen as the cross tested bids around the ¥88.90 level. The Chinese yuan strengthened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0905, down from CNY 8.0924. Data released in China saw January – September GDP up 9.4% y/y while Q3 GDP was up 9.4% also. Retail sales were up 13.0% y/y in the first nine months of the year while CPI was up 2.0% y/y during the same period, less than the 5.4% y/y increase in PPI. Many economists are now upwardly revising their 2005 GDP growth forecasts for China as a result of today’s data. On another positive note, the government reported the Chinese economy is not evidencing signs of deflation.

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7685 level and was supported around the $1.7595 level. Cable’s move higher was precipitated by stronger-than-expected U.K. retail sales data for September. Traders reacted by reducing their expectations for an additional monetary easing by Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee this year. Other reports released today by CML, BBA, and BSA evidenced a stable or improving mortgage market, another positive for sterling, with CML reporting mortgage lending activity at its highest level since July 2004. Public sector net borrowing data released today for September saw the figure at a twelve-year high, a stark contrast to forecasts in Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown’s March Budget speech. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7725/ 1.7815 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6765 level and was capped around the £0.6800 figure.


The Swiss franc picked up marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2935 level after encountering offers around the CHF 1.2985 level. There are no significant data released scheduled for Switzerland today or tomorrow. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2865 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5485 level while the British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as sterling tested offers around the CHF 2.2925 level.


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