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Wednesday February 8, 2006 - 14:22:14 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (8 February 2006)

The euro came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the US$ 1.1940 level and failed to get above offers around the $1.1995 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just below the 38.2% retracement of the move from $1.2590 to $1.1640. There are not many data on the docket in the U.S. or eurozone today. Instead, dealers will be absorbed with testimony from U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow later in the day. The Bush administration’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year – details of which were released the other night – has emboldened some dollar bears who point to a return of the 30-year bond as being indicative of structural imbalances in the U.S. economy. Yesterday’s Treasury refunding of US$ 21 billion in 3-year paper received lukewarm attention from bidders, causing traders to wonder if foreign central banks and monetary authorities will maintain their appetite for U.S. securities. It is this appetite for securities that has bridged the U.S.’s massive trade deficit over the past several years and helped to forestall a massive dollar slide. The euro’s upside is being capped right now by the short end of the U.S. Treasury curve where many traders expect at least another +25bps monetary tightening on 28 March, and possibly one on 10 May also. By comparison, the European Central Bank could tighten policy as early as next month but it remains unknown how hawkish they may become in upcoming months, even with inflation stubbornly above the central bank’s 2.0% ceiling target. The euro was also pressured overnight by German December current account data that saw its surplus recede to €6.3 billion from €8.2 billion in November and €6.5 billion in December 2004. Germany’s trade surplus printed at a record pace for all of 2005 but export activity slowed at the end of the year. Coupled with weaker industrial and retail sales, these data could suggest a slowdown in Germany’s nascent economic recovery. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2030/ 1.2080 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥118.45 level and was supported around the ¥117.55 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just above the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥108.75 to ¥121.40. Traders continue to speculate about whether or not Bank of Japan’s Policy Board will announce a change to its long-standing quantitative easing policy tonight. Core consumer price inflation is beginning to print at or above zero per cent and a stabilization of positive year-on-year inflation is the main criterion that needs to take root before BoJ will begin to unwind its unorthodox monetary policy. Data released in Japan today saw the January economy watchers’ index slide 3.6 index points m/m, the first decline in three months. Other data released today saw January bank lending unchanged y/y, another positive indication that Japan is overcoming deflation. Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council head Nakagawa talked down the prospect of BoJ action tonight saying the government and central bank “must share a clear monetary target.” Remarks from BoJ Governor Fukui will be closely scrutinized by traders tonight for any indication of a shift in policy. It is unlikely a shift in policy will come before the new fiscal year in April. December household spending and December machine tool orders data will be released on Friday. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 2.68% to close at ¥16,272.68. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥117.40/ ¥116.45 levels. The euro climbed higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥141.75 level and was supported around the ¥140.95 level. The British pound and Swiss franc notched gains vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥206.40 and ¥91.25 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0543 in over-the-counter trading, down from CNY 8.0578, while the pair closed at CNY 8.0545, down from CNY 8.0566 in the exchange-traded market.

The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7405 level and was capped around the $1.7475 level. Technically, the pair’s intraday low was just above the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.8495 to $1.7045. Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will render its interest rate decision tomorrow morning and is not expected to alter monetary policy at this time. Recent dovish remarks from MPC members Barker and Nickell suggest the central bank could gradually be shifting towards an easing bias and some traders believe the BoE will orchestrate lower interest rates as early as H1 2006. Data released in the U.K. today confirmed the manufacturing sector registered its second consecutive output gain in December. Still, it was reported that the industrial sector operated at its weakest level in ten years in 2005, off 1.7%. Also, BRC reported January shop prices were off 0.57% y/y and Nationwide speculated that January retail sales may print stronger-than-expected. Additionally, REC reported U.K. wages climbed sharply in January and this will not go unnoticed by MPC policymakers. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7510 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6855 level and was capped around the £0.6875 level.


The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.3000 figure and was supported around the CHF 1.2950 level, a relatively tight range. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 61.8% retracement of the move from CHF 1.3195 to CHF 1.2555. Swiss National Bank President Roth speaks tomorrow and January consumer price data will be released tomorrow along with the SECO consumer climate figure. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2885 level. The euro and British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5520 and CHF 2.2570 levels, respectively.


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