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Thursday November 17, 2005 - 14:35:41 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 November 2005)

The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.1700 figure and was supported around the $1.1645 level. The common currency gained some ground after the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. housing data. October housing starts were off 5.6% to 2.01 million units while building permits were down 6.7% to 2.07 million units, the largest decline since 1999. These data could represent the impact of continued Federal Reserve interest rate hikes on the U.S. housing sector. The Fed is expected to tighten policy by another 50bps or so through the Federal Open Market Committee meeting at the end of January. On a positive note, September’s housing starts and building permits data were upwardly revised. Other data released today in the U.S. saw weekly initial jobless claims fall 25,000 to 303,000. Also, industrial production climbed +0.9% in October, up from September’s -1.5% level while capacity utilization moved higher to 79.5% from 79%. Traders also await the November Philadelphia Fed business activity survey later in the North American session. In eurozone news, the European Commission reduced its 2006 growth forecast for the eurozone to 1.9% from the previous forecast of 2.1% and upped its inflation forecast to 2.2% from 1.5%. For 2005, GDP is now expected to print around 1.3%, down from April’s forecast of 1.6%. Separately, the European Union is said to have reduced its German GDP forecast to 1.2% for 2006 from 1.6%. EMU-12 data released today saw industrial production decline 0.4% m/m in September and climb 1.0% y/y. The U.S. Senate Banking Committee yesterday approved Ben Bernanke to success Fed Chairman Greenspan and he will now go before the full Senate for a vote. Euro offers are cited around the $1.1740/ 1.1805 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥118.50 level and was capped around the ¥119.30 level. Technically, today’s low is right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from ¥116.85 to ¥119.55. A move through today’s intraday low opens up the ¥118.20, ¥117.85, and ¥117.50 levels. One factor in the yen’s strength today was an MoF report that evidenced increasing demand for Japanese assets from foreign investors. Overseas players were net buyers of ¥264.1 billion in Japanese equities in the week to 11 November, the 21st time in 22 weeks they were net buyers. Likewise, foreign investors were net buyers of ¥138.2 billion of Japanese debt, the fourth consecutive week of net buying. Bank of Japan began a two-day Policy Board meeting overnight and is largely expected to keep its quantitative easing policy unchanged for at least a few more months. All eyes will be on Bank of Japan Governor Fukui tomorrow after the conclusion of the BoJ’s two-day meeting. The central bank has come under increasing fire from the government for contemplating an end to the unorthodox quantitative easing monetary policy. Furthermore, some government officials have actively called into question the BoJ’s independence and demanded that policymakers work in tandem with the government to coordinate policies and overcome deflation. The Nikkei released a survey of GDP forecasts from think tanks today and the report sees Japanese GDP up 2.6% in the fiscal year that ends in March 2006. Another factor cited for the yen’s resurgence overnight was a report from a New York advisory company that suggested China held an emergency meeting overnight to discuss the yuan. A further revaluation of the yuan would likely cause the Chinese currency to appreciate and create upward pressure on other Asian currencies as well. The Nikkei 225 stock index finished at another multi-year high overnight, gaining 1.70% to close at ¥14,411.79. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥118.25/ ¥117.50 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.50 level after encountering offers around the ¥139.15 level. The British pound and Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥203.70 and ¥89.50 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0845, up from CNY 8.0835. New York economic advisory company Medley Global Advisors issued a report overnight that said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao convened an emergency economic meeting overnight that was attended by People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou to discuss the yuan. PBOC denied the story but the markets are awaiting news like this given President Bush’s current visit to Asia and visit to China this weekend. The Bush administration has been pushing China to revalue the yuan currency by many media accounts and Bush himself this week said foreign exchange markets should determine the value of currencies.

The British pound retraced some recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7150 level and was capped around the $1.7220 level. Data released in the U.K. today saw October retail sales growth decelerate to +0.2%, matching expectations. Dealers want to see evidence of a strong retail holiday season in the U.K. before they become enamoured with sterling again. Yesterday’s Bank of England quarterly inflation report left the door open for additional monetary easing in traders’ minds. Consumer inflation is currently running stronger than the central bank would like and economic growth is running below trend. BoE lowered interest rates in August by 25bps and some traders expect the Monetary Policy Committee to expand policy further in 2006. Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown will deliver his pre-Budget speech on 5 December and is expected reduce his rosy growth forecasts for 2005 even further. In his March Budget statement, Brown predicted the economy would grow between 3.0% and 3.5% and has subsequently lowered that forecast by 1.0%. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7725/ 80 levels. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6780 level and was capped around the £0.6800 figure.


The Swiss franc gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback fell to the CHF 1.3215 level after running out of steam around the CHF 1.3280 level. Technically, today’s intraday low is about ten pips below the 23.6% retracement of the move from CHF 1.3035 to CHF 1.3285. October producer and import price data will be released tomorrow in Switzerland. Most dealers expect Swiss National Bank to tighten monetary policy next month at its month-end policy meeting. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.3190/ 30 levels. The euro and British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5455 and CHF 2.2730 levels, respectively.


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