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Tuesday January 10, 2006 - 15:34:20 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (10 January 2006)

The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2035 level and was capped around the $1.2105 level. The common currency moved to intraday highs during European dealing after the release of a stronger-than-expected December German ZEW economic expectations indicator that printed at 71.0, up from December’s 61.6 reading and significantly above forecasts. European Central Bank President Trichet spoke many times in 2005 about low sentiment and confidence levels in the eurozone and this improvement in the EMU-12’s largest national economy bodes well for the bloc. ECB policymakers will convene on Thursday to deliberate monetary policy and are not expected to changed interest rates. Many traders, however, believe the ECB will lift interest rates as early as March or April. The ECB tightened policy on 1 December for the first time in years. Today’s data and recent economic data make it likely, however, that Trichet will remain quite hawkish in his post-meeting press conference. Germany’s DIW institute reported Q4 GDP climbed 0.4% q/q following strongest industrial output. In U.S. news, Atlanta Fed President Guynn indicated the future course of U.S. interest rate policy will depend on the strength of upcoming data. Guynn added the economy is “doing quite well, even better than many people seem to allow themselves to think.” Kansas City Fed President Hoenig predicted the economy will expand between 3.25% and 3.50% in 2006 but added he is concerned about the “upside risk to the economy and the impact it could have on inflation.” Similarly, he added the current 4.25% federal funds target rate is “at the lower end of what most economists refer to as a neutral range.” November trade data and December producer price inflation data will be released in the U.S. this week and closely scrutinized by traders. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2110/ 1.2220 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen weakened marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥114.75 level and was supported around the ¥114.10 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from ¥104.20 to ¥121.40. Finance minister Tanigaki today said Japan is likely to emerge from deflation by the end of this year. Tanigaki is in the U.S. to meet Treasury Secretary Snow and outgoing Fed Chairman Greenspan this week and this has some traders curious about whether or not exchange rates will be discussed. Economic minister Yosano was quoted as saying “a sharp fluctuation is not desirable.” Recent inflation data in Japan saw consumer prices climb 0.1% y/y in November, their first positive annualized result in more than two years. Bank of Japan has long signaled that it is likely to end its long-standing quantitative easing policy in 2006 and the government continues to resist this change in policy. Even after Japan ends its policy, it will likely take years for Japanese interest rates to return to some semblance of normalcy. Data released in Japan today saw November household spending fall 1.3% m/m, the third consecutive monthly decline, while the year-on-year figure was flat and below expectations. The Nikkei 225 stock receded 1.85% to close at ¥16,124.35, its largest percentage decline in four weeks. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥113.85 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥137.80 level and was capped around the ¥138.45 level. Technically, today’s high was just below the 50.0% retracement level of the move from ¥133.50 to ¥143.55. The British pound was up marginally vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥202.60 level while the Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen as the cross tested bids around the ¥89.30 level. The Chinese yuan weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback ended over-the-counter trade at CNY 8.0663, up from CNY 8.0650. In the exchange-traded market, the pair closed at CNY 8.0657 while today’s central parity rate was CNY 8.0691. People’s Bank of China Research Bureau head Tang Xu reiterated the market incorrectly assumed China will move out of dollar-denominated reserve assets in favour of higher-yielding assets. China’s official foreign reserves now exceed US$ 00 billion and are expected to top the psychologically-important ¥1 trillion level this year, surpassing Japan as the top foreign holder of U.S. dollar assets. Data released in China today saw the Q4 business climate index fall 3.0% y/y.

The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7700 figure and was supported around the $1.7615 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just below the 76.4% retracement of the move from 1.7905 to 1.7045. Data released in the U.K. today saw Nationwide house prices climb 1.5% y/y October and December and were up 3.2% y/y. These data are consistent with other recent housing market data that suggest the U.K. housing market has stabilized both in terms of buying and price activity. In another positive note for the U.K. economy, British Retail Consortium reported like-for-like sales climbed 2.6% y/y in December, exceeding expectations. These data suggest the U.K. holiday shopping period was a strong one for some retailers and may lessen the chances of a Bank of England monetary easing in the next couple of months. BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee will convene on Thursday and is likely to not alter interest rates at that time. In other U.K. news, the European Union is tomorrow likely to tell the U.K. that it must reduce its deficit below 3.0% of GDP by March 2007 to comply with Stability and Growth Pact. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7440 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6825 level and was capped around the £0.6845 level.


The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2830 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2745 level. Technically, the pair was unable to remain above the 23.6% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1290 to CHF 1.3285. No significant data are scheduled for released in Switzerland this week. Traders are closely following the price of gold and events in the Middle East – including Prime Minister Sharon’s comatose condition and Iran’s removal of United Nations inspection seals at nuclear areas – and are curious to see if safe haven flows support the Swiss franc. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2760/ 1.2690 levels. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5450 and CHF 2.2630 levels, respectively.


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