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Tuesday November 1, 2005 - 14:53:21 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (1 November 2005)

The euro moved moderately higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2025 level and was supported around the $1.1970 level. Technically, today’s high was around the 50% retracement of the move from $1.1875 to $1.2170. Liquidity was said to be thinner-than-normal today as traders readied for this afternoon’s interest rate announcement from the Federal Open Market Committee. Most dealers expect the Fed will lift the federal funds target rate by +25bps to 4.00%. The question on traders’ minds is whether or not the Fed’s policy statement will signal more monetary tightening at a “measured pace” and whether the Fed gives any clues about when it will end its current tightening cycle. After today, the two big items on traders’ radar are Thursday’s congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Greenspan and the October U.S. non-farm payrolls number. Most forecasts are calling for new jobs growth of 100,000 last month but the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita could distort Friday’s number. Another big item on traders’ calendars is Thursday’s meeting of European Central Bank’s Governing Council. The ECB has become increasingly hawkish in recent weeks because M2 money supply aggregates have recently grown above 8.0% per annum – above the central bank’s reference zone – and inflation is now around 2.5% per annum, hotter than the ECB’s 2.0% ceiling target. The ECB is not expected to tighten policy on Thursday but a move higher would not be a major surprise. Data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-12 PMI print at a thirteen-month high of 52.7, just above most forecasts. These data will likely bolster the case for an ECB interest rate hike. Data on the docket in the U.S. today include October ISM. The ISM prices paid component will be closely watched to see if it evidences any inflationary pressures, thereby justifying the probable Fed rate hike even further. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2035/ 75 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥116.75 level and remained supported around the ¥116.35 level. This represents the pair’s strongest print since September 2003 and chartists are eyeing the ¥117.70/ ¥118.65 levels as upside targets. Newly-appointed minister for economic and fiscal policy Kaoru Yosano today said it is imperative to keep interest rates low in order to ensure the success of budget and fiscal reforms. Interestingly, Yosano replaced the popular Heizo Takenaka yesterday and today intimated Bank of Japan could increase Japanese government bond purchases if needed. This is a very contentious issue and essentially is a monetization of Japanese debt; the central bank currently purchases ¥1.2 trillion in JGBs monthly. The Japanese government and central bank have been increasingly at odds about the forthcoming end to the BoJ’s long-standing quantitative easing policy. It remains to be seen if Yosano will speak more publicly than Takenaka about these issues. This is now more of an issue than it was a week ago because the central bank yesterday released a forecast that predicts positive year-over-year inflation of 0.1% as early as March 2006. Finance minister Tanigaki joined the chorus of officials calling for continuity saying the government and BoJ “should be in broad agreement about policy matters.” The most important Japanese data scheduled for release this week include September household spending data on Friday. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.92% to close at ¥13,867.86, a fresh 52-week high. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥115.45 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥140.10 level and was supported around the ¥139.50 level. The ¥141.15 level remains an upside target for some chartists. The British pound and Swiss franc also gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥206.55 and ¥90.60 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at the CNY 8.0860 level, up from 8.0845. Data released in China overnight saw the October purchasing managers’ index slip to 54.1 from 55.1 in September. China’s State Council released a report that predicted the yuan will appreciate in the next three to five years on account of a rapidly expanding trade surplus. The issue for now, however, is how much the Bush administration will push China to revalue the yuan, perhaps before President Bush’s visit to China this month.

The British pound lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7655 level and tested offers around the $1.7720 level. Data released in the U.K. today saw the October manufacturing purchasing managers’ index improve to 51.7 from 51.5 in September, indicative of an improvement in the sector. The manufacturing sector accounts for some 17% of economic output in the U.K. and has been beleaguered as of late. Also, the Nationwide house price report was released and saw a 1.3% m/m and 3.3% y/y improvement, reinforcing the current market view that the all-important housing market is stabilizing. CBI released its distributive trades survey today and it reported that 42% of retailers said sales were down from one year ago as opposed to 24% who said they have improved. The difference of -18 was the worst in this report’s eighteen-year history. Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will next deliberate interest rates on 10 November and is not expected to change policy. The MPC last moved rates lower in August by 25bps. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7725/ 1.7815 levels. The euro gained moderate ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6795 level and was supported around the £0.6765 level.

The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2910 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2855 level. Today’s high was about ten pips shy of the 61.8% retracement of the move from CHF 1.3070 to CHF 1.2695. Data released in Switzerland today saw the October PMI report print at 56.8, the eighth consecutive month it has been above the “boom-or-bust” 50.0 level. Swiss October CPI data will be released on Thursday. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2835 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 1.5470 level while the British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 2.2755 level.


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