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Wednesday February 1, 2006 - 10:13:06 GMT
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Greenspan leaves Bernanke with a clean slate - USD looking weak around the edges, but EUR and JPY are not yet confirming another direction change for the greenback.

US ISM today the first major data point for the new Fed chairman to consider. Iran nuclear issue also on the agenda in the coming days.

• US FOMC raised rates a 14th consecutive time to bring the rate to 4.50% as expected. The monetary policy statement was adjusted slightly to indicate that further interest rate increases "may" be necessary rather than they were "likely"
• US Consumer Confidence for January out at 106.3 vs. 105.0 expected
• US Chicago Purchasing Manager Index for January out at 58.5 v. 59.9 expected
• New Zealand Trade Balance for December out at -292M vs. -800M expected
• US Weekly Consumer Confidence out unchanged at -9
• Australia Performance of Manufacturing Index out at January at 50.2 vs. 53.1 in December
• Japan Labor Cash Earnings rose 1.6% year-on-year in December vs. a -0.8% drop in November and Overtime Earnings incrase +0.6%
• China's CLSA Manufacturing PMI rose to 50.2 in January from 50.1 in December

Market moves: USD was mixed after the FOMC rate announcement and statement - first strong and then easing back.

The Fed monetary policy statement was a straightforward attempt to leave as clean a slate as possible for Mr. Bernanke. The replacement of "likely" with "may" to describe the likelihood of future rate increases should not be considered dovish, but rather an attempt to allow Bernanke as much latitude as possible in setting the policy course going forward. It seems the market understood this and we're seeing calm across most of the major USD crosses in the wake of this event. The next Fed meeting is not until late March.

The question now is, what next? If we look around the edges at what the USD is doing, we're seeing a weak currency indeed. USDKRW has lost 10% over the last few months, and shows what happens when an Asian currency is not manipulated. USD/CAD looks like it wants to challenge 28-year lows down around 1.1200. AUD/USD suddenly developed short-term upside momentum and looks like it wants to break higher out of the downward trending channel its been in for ages. If we are to take clues from these currencies, then the USD could continue weaker. But seeing is believing in this uncertain market.

We are able to find a market analog for what we are seeing right now in markets past. In October of 2003, EUR/USD broke higher through 1.1870 resistance in a massive one-day move from below 1.1750 all the way to 1.1975 (similar to the recent move from 1.2070 to 1.2320 over a few days). Then the subsequent four days saw a return to the 1.1750 base - a classic reversal setup similar to the one we saw just last Friday that should have taken the focus lower still. But the subsequent five days saw a reversal of the reversal all the way back to new highs around 1.2100. That's just to show that this kind of thing can happen - not a promotion of the idea that history will repeat itself. So right now, we offer two scenarios 1) USD strength vs. Europe continues and we have a look down around 1.1900 in EUR/USD before another rally attempt materializes. 2) We reverse the reversal and pull all the way to 1.2550 and even 1.2800. We prefer scenario 2 - but options might be the best way to express the view as current levels seem to represent a fulcrum for a largish move either way in the short term.

Today, we'll see the US ISM manufacturing number from January, which may disappoint considering that all four of the regional surveys were slightly to very weak this month. The ISM non-manufacturing number, however, due Friday, has not shown consistent signs of any weakness - quite the contrary. We also have tomorrow's IAEA meeting on Iran to contend with - which could suddenly become key on any instability in energy markets.

Note: the support/resistance levels used in the matrix’s of this document are levels derived from yesterday high, low and close. Reference in the text to other support/resistance levels will occur.

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Saxo Bank A/S shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any recommendation, forecast or other information herein contained. The contents of this publication should not be construed as an express or implied promise, guarantee or implication by Saxo Bank that clients will profit from the strategies herein or that losses in connection therewith can or will be limited. Trades in accordance with the recommendations in an analysis, especially leveraged investments such as foreign exchange trading and investment in derivatives, can be very speculative and may result in losses as well as profits, in particular if the conditions mentioned in the analysis do not occur as anticipated.
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