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Thursday February 2, 2006 - 14:04:50 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (2 February 2006)

The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2080 level and was supported around the $1.2030 level. Today’s range was relatively tight as many market participants were unwilling to assume new market risk ahead of tomorrow’s January U.S. non-farm payrolls report. Whisper forecasts suggest that as many as 300,000 new jobs may have been created last month, especially with the relatively mild weather in some parts of the U.S. Any print below a relatively robust forecast tomorrow will disappoint traders who want to bid up the dollar. The premise is that a higher jobs report may cement another +25bps move in the federal funds target rate by the Federal Open Market Committee on 28 March. Fed officials have acknowledged that their monetary policy is becoming more data-dependent as the fed funds target rate approaches a perceived rate of neutrality. Data released in the U.S. today saw Q4 non-farm productivity recede 0.6%, compared to forecasts for a +0.5% gain. Some dealers believe this number is an anomaly, much like the provisional U.S. Q4 GDP gain of 1.1% and that both data sets are subject to upward revisions. Q4 unit labour costs came in at 3.5%, consistent with expectations, while weekly initial jobless claims were down 11,000 to 273,000. This represents three or four weeks where the jobless claims tally has been below the psychologically 300,000 figure and this is another reason why many are expecting a strong non-farm payrolls report tomorrow. In eurozone news, the European Central Bank’s Governing Council decided as expected to keep the refinancing rate unchanged at 2.25%. The ECB lifted the rate by +25bps on 1 December 2005 – its first move higher in five years – and many dealers believe the ECB could tighten policy again soon. This theory could be cemented today when ECB President Trichet gives his press conference. Data released in the eurozone today saw December EMU-12 PPI climb 0.2% m/m and 4.6% y/y. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2105 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥118.65 level and was supported around the ¥117.85 level. Stops were triggered above the ¥118.15 level and the move accelerated above the ¥118.30/ 35 level, representing the 61.8% retracement of the move from ¥121.40 to ¥113.40. Chartists are now eyeing the ¥119.50 level as the next significant upside target. The big news in Japan overnight involved comments from Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Muto who indicated the likelihood of the central bank ending its long-standing quantitative easing policy will increase over the next fiscal year that begins in April. Muto also provided some details about how the central bank will actually begin to tighten its interest rate regime. He said the BoJ will shift its focus to the unsecured overnight call money rate from the current focus of the outstanding balance of current account deposits, adding it will precede a reduction in the liquidity target to some ¥6 trillion from the current ¥30-35 trillion target range. Muto also warned that real interest rates will continue to move lower for the time being as nominal interest rates inch up. Data released in Japan overnight saw the January monetary base rise 1.0% y/y while Japan’s December foreign exchange reserves rose US$ 3.63 billion to US$ 846.9 billion. Capital flows data released overnight saw foreign investors purchase a net ¥351.9 billion in Japanese equities in the week ending 28 January along with ¥153.9 billion in Japanese bonds. Japanese investors sold a net ¥381.3 billion in foreign bonds and bought a net ¥19.6 billion in foreign stocks. The Nikkei 225 stock index increased 1.40% to close at ¥16,710.55, a fresh 52-week and multi-year closing high. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥117.60 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥143.15 level and was supported around the ¥142.30 level. Euro bids are cited around the ¥142.05 level. The British pound and Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥210.75 and ¥91.95 levels, respectively. In Chinese news, traders await the return of liquidity to the yuan trading market following the recent Chinese New Year holiday.

The British pound gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7785 level after finding support around the $1.7710 level. Today’s range was relatively tight as sterling was unable to reach the 50% retracement level of the move from $1.7935 to $1.7665. Data released in the U.K. today saw the January CIPS construction activity index fall to 50.7, its lowest print in more than four years. The January services PMI report will be released in the U.K. tomorrow. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7800/ 30 levels. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6785 level and was capped around the £0.6805 level. Today’s low represents the pair’s weakest print since 22 December 2005.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2915 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2865 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 50% retracement level of the move from CHF 1.3195 to CHF 1.2555. Chartists are eyeing the CHF 1.2950 level as the pair’s next upside technical target. The December trade balance report will be released in Switzerland today. Traders remain interested in possible safe-haven flows into the Swiss franc should the nuclear standoff between Iran and the west becomes exacerbated. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2830 level. The euro and British pound climbed higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5565 and CHF 2.2925 levels, respectively.


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