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Thursday January 19, 2006 - 15:47:54 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (19 January 2006)

The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2050 level after encountering offers around the $1.2120 level. Technically, today’s high was about ten pips above the 50% retracement of the move from $1.2590 to $1.1638. A mixed batch of economic data were released in the U.S. today. On a positive note, weekly initial jobless claims were off 35,000 to 271,000 while continuing claims receded to 2.53 million. The initial claims tally represented the lowest since October 2000. This could evidence growing strength in U.S. labour markets. Some traders believe the headline U.S. unemployment rate will fall below 5.0% in 2006. On a negative note, new home construction declined 8.3% to an annual rate of 1.933 million, its lowest print since March 2005 and below expectations. Similarly, building permits dropped 4.4% to 2.068 million. For 2005 as a while, housing starts gained 5.6% to 2.065 million, the highest level since 1972. Traders were very interested in what Federal Reserve officials said yesterday. Richmond Fed President Lacker reported there will be at least one more monetary tightening while Fed Governor Bies reiterated economic data will dictate the Fed’s policy and when it will end its long-standing tightening cycle. Fed officials scheduled to speak today include Atlanta Fed President Guynn, Dallas Fed President Fisher, and San Francisco Fed President Yellen. Traders also bought dollars yesterday after the Fed’s Beige Book suggested business activity remains fairly solid in most areas of the country. The Philadelphia Fed will release its business activity survey today at 1700 GMT. In eurozone news, EMU-12 December inflation rose 0.3% m/m and 2.2% y/y, unchanged from the flash estimate. This means inflation is still running above the central bank’s preferred ceiling rate of 2.0%. ECB policymakers will be alert, especially given the current spike in global energy costs. Other data released today saw German December PPI up 0.3% m/m and 5.2% y/y while the eurozone November trade deficit printed at €2.3 billion, up from a revised surplus of €600 million in October. The ECB released its January monthly bulletin today and reported “the monetary policy stance remaining accommodative, the governing council will continue to monitor very closely all developments with respect to risks to price stability over the medium term.” The ECB also warned that inflation rates “could exhibit some volatility in the early months of 2006.” Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2220 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥114.95 level after being unable to move above the ¥115.45 level in Australasian and European dealing. Technically, the pair traded about fifteen pips above the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥121.40 to ¥113.40. The yen’s gains across the boards followed an unchanged economic assessment from the Japanese government, the fifth consecutive month its assessment has remained steady and reported the economy “continues to recover at a moderate pace.” Bank of Japan’s monthly economic assessment is expected to be released tomorrow and is likely to maintain its current assessment. The yen was dented earlier this week following the massive sell-off in Japanese equity markets on account of the government’s investigation of internet portal Livedoor. Data released in Japan today saw December corporate bankruptcies climb 3.1% m/m while December corporate failures grew 7.1%. In addition to the BoJ’s report, December machine tool orders will be released overnight. The Nikkei 225 stock index recovered some recently-ceded ground and climbed 2.31% to close at ¥15,696.28. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥113.60 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.80 level and was capped around the ¥139.70 level. Technically, today’s intraday high is just above the 38.2% retracement of the move from ¥143.60 to ¥137.10. The British pound and Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥202.00 and ¥89.30 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0665 in over-the-counter dealing, off from CNY 8.0692 yesterday. In the exchange-traded market, the dollar closed at CNY 8.0673, down from CNY 8.0687. Data released in China today saw retail sales climb to CNY 6.20 trillion from CNY 5.39 trillion in 2004. Also, China’s 2005 urban registered unemployment rate printed at 4.2% in 2005.

The British pound slumped vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7525 level after encountering offers around the $1.7635 level. The pair made a strong move during North American dealing, erasing most of its intraday gains. British Chamber of Commerce released a report today that characterizes the U.K. economy as weak and indicates growth will likely remain below trend despite a pick-up in economic activity in Q4 2005. Many U.K. data will be released tomorrow including December retail sales, public finances, and M4 sterling lending. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7705 level. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6885 level and was supported around the £0.6860 level.


The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2890 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2785 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just above the 38.2% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2240 to CHF 1.3285. Data released in Switzerland today saw December producer price inflation remain unchanged m/m and up 1.1% y/y. Import prices were up 0.3% m/m and 1.5% y/y. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2755 level. The euro and British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5540 and CHF 2.2640 levels, respectively.


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