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Thursday December 15, 2005 - 14:21:24 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (15 December 2005)

The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$1.2040 level and was supported around the $1.1960 level. The common currency was up yesterday following the dollar’s massive sell-off vis-à-vis the yen. Data released in the U.S. today saw the headline November consumer price index recede 0.6%, below expectations, while the “core” ex-food and energy component was up +0.2%. These data are important because the Federal Reserve tightened monetary policy this week and tweaked its monetary policy statement for the first time in several Federal Open Market Committee meetings. The Fed remains concerned with inflation prospects and an easing in retail price inflation will result in less pressure on the FOMC to tighten policy in 2006. Most traders expect the Fed to life the federal funds target rate by +25bps to 4.50% in late January. The likely outcome of the FOMC meeting of 28 March is less certain with some arguing incoming Fed chairman Bernanke may use the opportunity to end the Fed’s current tightening cycle. Other U.S. data released today saw October net U.S. Treasury International Capital securities purchases by foreigners print at US$ 106.8 billion, more-than-expected and further confirmation that the U.S. does not now have any problems financing its trade deficit. In eurozone news, European Central Bank President Trichet hawkishly said “(the ECB) must not wait until inflation has taken a hold before fighting it. Prevention is better than a cure.” The ECB raised interest rates on 1 December and Trichet also called on eurozone countries to enact structural reforms. Data released in the eurozone today saw Q3 labour costs rise 2.2% y/y, below estimates of a 2.4% rise. Traders are paying close attention to the forthcoming wage negotiations of Germany’s IG Metall union to see if higher-than-expected EMU-12 inflation will result in uncomfortable pay demands. The European Parliament today adopted the EU’s 2006 budget and the focus remains on the eurozone’s budget negotiations for the 2007 – 2013 period. The U.K. holds the rotating EU presidency and budget negotiations remain thorny with France and the Netherlands calling on the U.K. to cede more of its sizable EU rebate. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2065/ 1.2110 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen extended yesterday’s strong gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥115.85 level after running into offers around the ¥117.65 level. The pair plummeted through several key technical areas yesterday, reaching stops below the ¥119.35 and ¥118.40 levels. The Financial Times is reporting a new Liberal Democratic Party monetary policy sub-committee will ask Bank of Japan to link its monetary policy to Japan’s nominal GDP growth in an effort to keep the central bank’s long-standing quantitative easing policy intact as long as possible. The main criterion for BoJ to begin to unwind its long-standing quantitative easing policy is a sustained return to positive year-on-year retail inflation growth. The government and central bank have been at odds over the past couple of months about this policy and most traders do not expect BoJ to begin to unwind its policy until later in 2006. At the very least, it will probably take the central bank at least a couple of years to restore monetary normalcy in Japan following more than a decade of deflation. Capital flows data released in Japan overnight saw foreign investors as net buyers of ¥182.5 billion in Japanese equities in the week ending 9 December, the 25th out of 26 weeks they have been net purchasers. Japanese investors sold a net ¥23.9 billion of foreign equities during the same time period. Other data released today saw the October leading index upwardly revised to 81.8 from a preliminary 80.0 reading. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 1.36% to close at ¥15,254.44. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥115.05 level. The euro lost more ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥139.15 level and was capped around the ¥141.15 level. Stops were hit below the ¥139.70 level. The British pound and Swiss franc continued their sell-offs vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥205.30 and ¥90.20 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0740, down from CNY 8.0746. Data released in China overnight saw urban fixed-investment climb 27.8% in the January – November period to CNY 6.33 trillion. In other news, dealers are still talking about the possibility of a US$ 300 billion upward revision to China’s 2004 GDP expected on Monday.

The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7675 level and was capped around the $1.7745 level. Technically, the $1.7770 level remains top-heavy for cable and the pair continues to orbit the $1.7705 level. Data released in the U.K. today saw November retail sales climb 0.7% m/m, its largest rise since June. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7770 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6790 level and was supported around the £0.6755 level.


The Swiss franc shed ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2855 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2790 level. As expected, Swiss National bank raised interest rates by +25bps today and reported it will “continue to gradually adjust its monetary policy.” SNB’s three-month LIBOR target range is now between 0.50% and 1.50% and SNB intends to keep LIBOR around 1.00%. SNB tightened policy twice in 2004 but rates had been unchanged since September 2004. SNB President Roth dismissed speculation the central bank would hike rates by +50bps, saying “positive economic developments were not as pronounced” and adding the central bank is “not under pressure from inflation risks.” SNB also raised its 2005 GDP forecast to above 1.5% from its previous 1.0% estimate and the central bank now anticipates 2006 GDP just above 2.0%. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2760 level. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5430 and CHF 2.2790 levels, respectively.


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