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Wednesday January 11, 2006 - 16:15:14 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (11 January 2006)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2115 level and was supported around the $1.2045 level. Stops were hit above the $1.2095 level during North American dealing and today’s intraday high is just above the 50% retracement of the move from $1.2590 to $1.1635. There were not many economic data scheduled for release in the eurozone or U.S. today. France’s trade balance registered a deficit of €3.1 billion in November. Tomorrow will be a busy day for traders. First, European Central Bank’s Governing Council will convene to discuss monetary policy. Most traders expect the minimum refinancing rate to remain at 2.25% - the rate the ECB moved to on 1 December 2005 – but the post-meeting press conference led by ECB President Trichet will be closely watched. Trichet is expected to remain hawkish in his statements and keep the possibility of additional monetary tightenings alive. Also, Trichet is expected to talk up the recent performance of the EMU-12 economy. Notably, consumer confidence and corporate sentiment have improved in the eurozone and Germany – the bloc’s largest national economy – has seen its economic performance improve. In U.S. news, dealers await tomorrow’s November trade balance data to see if the U.S.’s large imbalance narrowed two months ago. Market participants were focused on the U.S.’s large deficit in 2004 and the dollar suffered as a result. In 2005, traders bought the dollar back on account of its positive interest rate and growth differentials over other currency areas. It remains to be seen what the theme or themes will be in 2006. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2220 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥114.15 level after encountering offers around the ¥114.85 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just below the 76.4% retracement of the move from ¥113.00 to ¥121.40. Data released in Japan today saw the November index of leading economic indicators recede to 60.0 from October’s 81.8 level, matching expectations, while the coincident index fell to 66.7 from 90.0. Also, it was reported that Japan’s official December foreign exchange reserves grew by US$ 3.63 billion to US$ 846.9 billion. Many traders expect China will overtake Japan as the world’s largest official holder of foreign reserves in 2006 and this is likely to inflame political rhetoric in the U.S. by those who believe China is artificially devaluing its currency for trade purposes. Japanese finance minister is meeting this week with U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow and Fed Chairman Greenspan and dealers are curious if intervention will come up during their discussions. Japanese monetary authorities have not overtly conducted yen-selling intervention in some two years but there is a school of thought that suggests they will need to do so when Bank of Japan begins to normalize monetary policy and interest rates, probably this year. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.48% to close at ¥16,363.59. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥113.55 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥138.50 level and was supported around the ¥137.90 level. The British pound came off vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥200.50 level while the Swiss franc made minor advances vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥89.60 level. The Chinese yuan weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed the over-the-counter session at CNY 8.0687, up from yesterday’s close of CNY 8.0663. Today’s central parity rate was set at CNY 8.0705. In the exchange-traded market, the pair closed at CNY 8.0682, up from CNY 8.0657 yesterday. The big news in China today was a report that China’s 2005 trade surplus printed at US$ 101.9 billion, above 2004’s total of US$ 31.98 billion and a very contentious issue for hawkish U.S. legislators who want China to rein in this imbalance. A Chinese government official today estimated the Chinese economy can withstand an appreciation of 7% to 11% in its yuan currency. A separate report predicts China will notch GDP growth of 9.1% in 2006 while another government estimate is currently focusing on a range of 8.5% to 9.0%. People’s Bank of China commented overnight on a recent story that suggests China will begin to diversify its foreign exchange holdings. PBOC said this is simply “market speculation” but did add it could use FX reserves to purchase oil.

The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7520 level and was capped around the $1.7645 level. Technically, today’s low was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from $1.7050 to $1.7805. Data released in the U.K. today saw December pay awards climb at their fastest rate in fourteen months while demand for staff expanded at a seven-month high. On a negative note, the U.K.’s global goods balance printed at -£6.0 billion in November, a record deficit and much worse than expectations. Also, Nationwide reported that U.K. consumer confidence fell to 96 in December, its lowest rate since May 2004. On the fiscal front, the European Commission formally warned the U.K. today that it must reduce its budget deficit below 3% by March 2007. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7740 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6885 level and was capped around the £0.6830 level.


The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2765 level and was unable to get above the CHF 1.2840 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 50% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2240 to CHF 1.3285. No major Swiss data are scheduled for release this week. Traders continue to monitor the price of gold and events in the Middle East for their impact on the foreign exchange markets. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2690 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5480 level while the British pound weakened vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 2.2460 level.


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