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Tuesday December 20, 2005 - 14:37:05 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 December 2005)

The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.1930 level after testing offers around the $1.2010 level. The common currency failed to rally after the release of weaker-than-expected November U.S. producer price inflation data that saw the headline figure print at -0.7%. The ex-food and energy component was up a mere +0.1% while the annualized ex-food and energy component fell back to 1.7%, less-than-expected. These data suggest a lessening of intermediate level price pressures and this may result in reduced retail-level price pressures, decreasing pressure on the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy. These data were tempered by strong U.S. housing market data that saw November housing starts climb 5.3% while building permits gained 2.5% to 2.155 million units. These housing market data suggest the U.S. housing sector remains robust despite the continuation of the Fed’s long-standing tightening cycle. The U.S. housing sector is an important component of the U.S. economy and continued strength suggests mortgage-holders may also be continuing to extract equity from their real estate holdings, fueling final private demand and consumption. In eurozone news, the European Commission reported the EMU-12 economy is improving with economic growth above 2.0% in the six months to December. The EC also reported it expects the European Central Bank to tighten monetary policy by another +50bps in 2006 following its +25bps hike on 1 December. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.1975/ $1.2005 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥116.75 level and was supported around the ¥115.95 level. Stops were reached above the ¥116.55 level during Australasian dealing and European names kept the pair supported above the ¥116.35 level. Technically, the pair stopped just short of testing the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥121.40 level to ¥115.50 level. Data released in Japan today saw November convenience store sales decline 4.0% y/y. Japan’s Cabinet formally approved the March 2007 draft budget of ¥79.69 trillion, off 3.0% from the budget in the current fiscal year to March 2006 and the first decline in four years. It was also announced that Japan will reduce its bond issuance to ¥165.43 trillion in the next fiscal year, the first decline in seventeen years. The minutes from a recent Bank of Japan Policy Board meeting will be released overnight and will likely evidence some discussion about reducing the central bank’s current account surplus target. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.62% to close at ¥15,641.26. Japanese financial markets will be closed on Friday. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥116.15/ ¥114.90 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥139.25 level after encountering offers around the ¥139.95 level. The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥206.00 figure while the Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen as the cross tested bids around the ¥89.60 level. The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0740, up from CNY 8.0730. As expected, China upwardly revised its 2004 GDP estimate by 16.8% overnight, meaning hundreds of billions of dollars more in output are now being included. A government official today indicated there are “no signs” of inflation or deflation in China’s economy. People’s Bank of China released a report wherein it reiterates its pledge to keep the yuan stable at a “balanced and reasonable level.” The central bank also reported it “will actively stimulate domestic consumption, promoting the structural readjustment of China’s industries and international trade.”

The British pound lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7575 level and was capped around the $1.7680 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 61.8% retracement of the move from $1.7900 to $1.7045. Sterling remained resilient today following stronger-thane-expected U.K. housing sector data released today that saw BBA mortgage lending reach its highest level since July 2004. Similarly, BSA reported its gross advances climbed £3.9 billion in November, the highest rate since August 2004, while CML also reported its gross mortgage lending reached its highest level since July 2004. These data were consistent with RICS house price data released overnight. Cable offers are cited around the $1.7660/ 90 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6765 level after running out of steam around the £0.6815 level.


The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2910 level after testing offers around the CHF 1.3025 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1740 to CHF 1.3285. Data released in Switzerland today saw November import and producer prices off 0.4% m/m and up 0.7% y/y. Swiss National Bank tightened monetary policy as expected last week and many traders believe the central bank was more dovish than expected. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2920 level. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5550 and CHF 2.2975 levels, respectively.


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