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Tuesday November 15, 2005 - 15:43:00 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (15 November 2005)



The euro retraced most of its intraday losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.1635 level and was capped around the $1.1710 level. Today’s intraday low represents the 38.2% retracement of the move from $0.8340 to $1.3665 and is a major level. Technicians note that a break of this level opens up the $1.1440 level as a downside target. Many data were released in the U.S. today. First, the New York Fed’s Empire index improved to 22.8 in November from 12.1 in October while the prices paid index rose to a record-high 60.6 this month from 57.3 last month. Traders closely watch the Empire and Philadelphia Fed indices as a proxy for national manufacturing activity. Second, the headline October producer price index printed at +0.7% while the ex-food and energy “core” rate was off 0.3%. The headline number was stronger-than-expected while the core rate was weaker-than-expected. Economists closely monitor these data to determine if price pressures are seeping through factory gates and into retail goods and services. The Federal Reserve is expected to tighten monetary policy next month, lifting the federal funds target rate to 4.25%. Fed policymakers have expressed significant concern with inflation over recent months and consumer price inflation data will be released tomorrow. The year-on-year core PPI number receded to +1.9% from 2.4% and is still above a bit above the Fed’s putative comfort zone. Third, other data released today saw headline October retail sales off 0.1% while the ex-autos component was up +0.9%. The euro also came off after the release of the German ZEW economic expectations index fell to +38.7 in November from +39.4 in October, below forecasts. In contrast, German GDP gained 0.6% q/q in Q3, more-than-expected. Another reason why the euro came off today was a media report that European Central Bank officials are split over the immediate need to raise interest rates. The report suggests more hawkish ECB members do not yet have enough support to move rates higher next month. If true, this means February could be the month when policymakers lift the main refinancing rate from the 2.00% level where it has been perched for a couple of years. Other data released in the eurozone today saw provisional Q3 GDP climb 0.6% q/q, just above consensus forecasts. European Central Bank Chief Economist Issing spoke today and said the ECB “has adopted a medium-term orientation. The forward-looking nature of this strategy ensures that timely action is taken to address any potential threats to price stability.” All eyes are on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee today as Ben Bernanke, President Bush’s nominee as Chairman Greenspan’s successor, testifies. In his prepared remarks, Bernanke said he would propose that the Federal Open Market Committee may want to consider an inflation target only if he can find consensus amongst his Board colleagues. Greenspan spoke about the U.S. current account deficit yesterday and asked what the “limits are to the foreign markets’ absorption of claims on U.S. residents” given the current account deficit exceeds 6% of GDP. Greenspan concluded the current account deficit “cannot persist forever.” Chicago Fed President Moskow spoke today and hawkishly talked up interest rates. “It will take appropriate monetary policy to keep inflation and inflation expectations well contained. For me, at this time such policy likely entails further removal of policy accommodation. And if inflation expectations did become unhinged, this might require a stronger response,” he said. Euro offers are cited around the $1.1740 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥119.40 level and remained supported around the ¥118.70 level. The pair barely moved when news of a strong earthquake some 500 kilometers northeast of Tokyo circulated during Australasian dealing. European dealers lifted the pair to levels not seen since August 2003 and the yen crosses also came off. Stops were hit above the ¥118.90 level and pushed the pair through the psychologically-important ¥119.00 figure, above options-related offers below the figure. Yesterday’s comments from Prime Minister Koizumi and other government officials wherein they pressured Bank of Japan to not unwind its long-standing quantitative easing policy anytime soon continues to hamper the yen. The ¥120.00 figure could be a difficult psychological level to pierce and chartists are eyeing the ¥120.55 level as a major long-term resistance line. Data released in Japan today saw October corporate failures up 23.0% m/m while Tokyo-area October condominium sales were up 8.9% y/y. Other data released today saw the index of leading economic indicators print at 45.5, down from a preliminary reading of 50.0. Koizumi spoke today and suggested Japan should curb new bond issuance around ¥30 trillion in fiscal year 2006 on account of the reviving economy. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.17% to close at ¥14,091.77. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥118.35 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥139.20 level and was supported around the ¥138.75 level. The British pound and Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥206.85 and ¥90.30 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0845, up from CNY 8.0831. People’s Bank of China Vice Governor Su Ning spoke about the yuan overnight and said “We have a floating currency exchange rate and market demand should play an even greater role in this reform. China's currency reform should help China develop a flexible exchange rate and enable the currency to play a more important role in helping China to achieve balance in its international payments.” President Bush will visit China this week and his administration is said to be pressuring China to revalue the yuan again. Data released in China today saw October industrial value-added output up 16.1% y/y to CNY 632 billion while October wholesale prices climbed 0.9% y/y.


The British pound lost more ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7305 level and was capped around the $1.7395 level. Sterling edged lower after the release of October U.K. consumer price inflation data fell to 2.3% from 2.5% in September, below expectations. This marked the first time the headline annual number fell in more than one year but the headline index is still above the Bank of England’s 2.0% target. Some traders sold cable today on the premise the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee could expand monetary policy further through additional interest rate cuts. Traders will be focused on tomorrow’s quarterly inflation report to see how concerned BoE policymakers are about economic growth and inflationary pressures. Other data released today saw RICS house prices decline at their slowest rate in fifteen months in October, an indication the all-important housing sector may be moderating. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7410 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6745 level and was supported around the £0.6720 level.

CHF

The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.3240 level and was supported around the CHF 1.3155 level. Today’s intraday high represents the pair’s strongest print since November 2003. Most traders expect Swiss National Bank to tighten monetary policy when policymakers issue their year-end economic assessment next month. October producer and import prices data will be released on Friday. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.3105 level. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5440 and CHF 2.2925 levels, respectively.

 

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