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Monday January 23, 2006 - 15:17:02 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (23 January 2006)

The euro gained significant ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2290 level and was supported around the $1.2135 level. Stops were reached above the $1.2225 level, representing the 61.8% retracement of the move from $1.2590 to $1.1640. A few factors conspired against the dollar today. First, there was a report on Friday that Iran is moving some of its foreign exchange reserves out of Europe, a sign that nuclear tensions with the West are becoming exacerbated. The U.S. dollar could be the biggest loser in a nuclear stalemate with Iran because the U.S. is a major energy importer with a lot of stake geopolitically in the region. Iran is said to maintain some US$ 26 billion in foreign reserves. Second, New York Federal Reserve President Geithner today reiterated one of his personal mantras about the U.S. current account deficit. Geithner said the inevitable adjustment of this deficit may not be gradual. The dollar’s fortunes will likely be very bleak if traders begin to focus again on the dollar’s structural imbalances rather than cyclical positives such as the relatively high growth rate of the U.S. and low unemployment rate. Third, Richmond Fed President Lacker on Friday suggested the Fed is nearing the end of its current monetary tightening cycle – no surprise to traders. Most Fed-watchers believe the central bank will tighten policy by +25bps next week. There is much less certainty about the 28 March Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Fourth, St. Louis Fed President Poole overnight said there’s one or two more rate hike lefts but added inflation is less of a threat now than it was six months ago. Fifth, traders are increasingly betting on a eurozone economic recovery and the EURIBOR futures market is nearly pricing in three monetary tightenings by the European Central Bank in 2006. ECB Chief Economist Issing today reiterated the central bank is poised to “act promptly.” ECB President Trichet will speak on Wednesday and the German Ifo number could give traders an excuse to sell more dollars this week. Traders will also focus on Q4 GDP and durable goods orders in the U.S. later this week. Data released in the U.S. today saw December leading economic indicators improve 0.1%. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2360 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥114.15 level after encountering offers around the ¥115.30 level during Australasian dealing. Stops were reached below the ¥115.05 level, representing the 50% retracement of the move from ¥108.75 to ¥121.40. Bank of Japan Assistant Governor Hirano spoke today and reiterated the central bank is contemplating an end to its long-standing quantitative easing policy but added it is not yet considering raising interest rates. Most dealers believe it will take years for BoJ’s interest rate regime to return to normalcy. Hirano also said there is not a lot of daylight between the central bank’s and government’s view on monetary policy, adding the BoJ will not unwind its policy until the economic recovery “is firmly established.” Chartists are now eyeing downside targets for the dollar including the ¥113.60/ ¥112.95/ ¥111.75 levels. December nationwide department store sales will be released in Japan overnight. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 2.14% to close at ¥15,360.65. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥113.75 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥140.90 level and was supported around the ¥139.65 level. Today’s intraday high is right around the intraday high from 5 January. The British pound and Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥204.70 and ¥91.05 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar in the over-the-counter market as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0633, down from CNY 8.0643, while the yuan depreciated in the exchange-traded market with the dollar closing at CNY 8.0647m up from CNY 8.0601. Former People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Li Ruogu spoke today and said China will maintain the same exchange rate policy in 2006 as it did in 2005 but added China does not want to accumulate too much more in the way of foreign reserves. Many market participants believe China is set to overtake Japan this year as the official top holder of U.S. dollar foreign reserves.

The British pound scored major ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7865 level and was supported around the $1.7700 figure. Stops were hit above the $1.7770 level, representing the 50% retracement of the move from $1.8495 to $1.7045. Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Lambert today said the spike in energy prices has only resulted in a “remarkably modest” impact on inflation. Comments like this add to traders’ beliefs that the MPC could ease interest rates again in H1 2006. An ITEM Club forecast was released today and said U.K. economic growth should be near its long-run average in 2006, up from 2005’s dismal showing. Q4 GDP and BoE MPC meeting minutes data will be released on Wednesday. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7885 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6895 level and was supported around the £0.6855 level.


The Swiss franc rallied vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2585 level after running out of steam around the CHF 1.2755 level. Technically, today’s intraday low is right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1480 to CHF 1.3285. The Swiss franc also notched gains on many of its crosses, partially a result of some safe-haven buying related to the Iranian nuclear standoff. The Swiss January KOF leading indicator will be released on Friday. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2510 level. The euro and British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5460 and CHF 2.2450 levels, respectively.


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