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Monday February 13, 2006 - 14:45:21 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (13 February 2006)

The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.1880 level after failing to get above the $1.1915 level overnight. Today’s intraday low represents the pair’s weakest print since 3 January. Dealers are reluctant to put on new long euro positions ahead of this week’s two-day congressional testimony from new Fed Chairman Bernanke. His remarks represent his first public comments about monetary policy since assuming the Fed’s top slot earlier this month and will be closely scrutinized for clues about interest rates. Bernanke is a noted macroeconomist and many market participants believe he may not be as Delphic as former Chairman Greenspan. Many dealers expect the Fed to lift the fed funds target rate by another +25bps on 28 March and some traders also expect a similar policy move on 10 May. January retail sales will be released in the U.S. tomorrow followed by the February Empire manufacturing index and December Treasury International Capital data portfolio flows on Wednesday. The portfolio flows data are important as traders want to make sure the U.S. was able to finance its current account deficit at the end of 2005 with international investments. Cleveland Fed President Pianalto speaks later today. In eurozone news, a Central Banking Publications survey confirmed central banks upped their share of reserves denominated in euros over the past year. EMU-12 finance ministers convene in Brussels later today and may call on European Central Bank to keep borrowing costs unchanged next month. Group of Eight finance ministers convened in Russia this weekend and largely discussed energy policy. Data to be released tomorrow include flash Q4 German GDP results that are expected to show marginal 0.2% growth. The February German ZEW survey will also be released tomorrow. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.1980 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥118.25 level and was supported around the ¥117.50 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was about ten pips above the 50% retracement of the move from ¥121.40 to ¥113.40 and today’s intraday high was about ten pips below the 61.8% retracement of the same range. Data released in Japan today saw the December current account surplus rise 8.6% y/y to ¥1.75 trillion, the fourth consecutive monthly rise, while revised December industrial output was up 1.3%, down from the provisional 1.4% estimate. Bank of Japan Governor Fukui today said the central bank needs to end its long-standing quantitative easing policy once economic conditions are favourable and then transition to a monetary policy that targets interest rates. Many traders believe a shift in policy could come as early as next month and two-year and five-year Japanese government bond yields are now at five-year highs. BoJ Policy Board member Mizuno warned the quantitative easing policy “carries a higher risk of inducing an asset bubble when excessive optimism arises about the course of the economy. The central bank should steer its monetary policy so that expectations do not arise too much that the low interest rate policy will be prolonged.” January Tokyo department store sales will be released overnight followed by the December leading index on Wednesday and Q4 GDP data on Friday. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 2.34% to close at ¥15,877.66. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥117.40/ ¥116.45 levels. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥139.80 level and was capped around the ¥140.60 level. Technically, the cross orbited the 50% 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 ¥204.85 and ¥89.80 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0464 in over-the-counter trade, down from CNY 8.0505, and at CNY 8.0458 in exchange-traded activity. Today’s close represents a post-21 July 2005 revaluation high for the yuan. Data released in China today saw the January trade surplus up 46.7% y/y at US$ 9.49 billion while the government predicted retail sales were rise 12.5% in H1. Citigroup today reported the massive January trade surplus will likely pressure the government to revalue the yuan further. Also, it was reported December industrial output growth was revised to 1.3% m/m from 1.4%. People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou talked about the yuan’s recent appreciation saying “We don't have a policy (that is causing the appreciation) because we already set up the framework of floating and expanding the role of market supply and demand conditions.” Concerning interest rates, Zhou added “In the last year, the consumer price index was only 1.8 pct and we have to have a comprehensive consideration. There are some factors that ask for a higher interest rate and there are some factors that ask for a lower interest rate, so we are trying to observe our economy to see what is a trend.”

The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7360 level and was capped around the $1.7450 level. Technically, the pair did not wander far above the 61.8% retracement of the move from $1.7130 to $1.7935. Many data were released in the U.K. today. First, input prices were up 1.8% m/m in January, above most estimates, while output prices were up 0.4% m/m the largest monthly climb since September 2005. Bank of England may be concerned about the rise in input prices even though factory gate-level prices have not been resulting in significant consumer-level price increases. On an annualized basis, input prices were up 16.2% y/y in January, down from December’s 18.1% level. Second, the U.K. government reported annual house price inflation was up 2.9% y/y in December, up from November’s 2.2% pace. Third, like-for-like retai sales were up 6.5% y/y in January according to the London Retail Consortium. Bank of England’s quarterly inflation report will be released this week and will likely set the stage for the central bank’s monetary policy pathway through the middle of the year. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7490 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6845 level and was supported around the £0.6820 level.


The Swiss franc shed minor ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.3105 level and was supported around the CHF 1.3050 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was just above the 76.4% retracement of the move from CHF 1.3195 to CHF 1.2555. On the geopolitical front, Iran is said to have resumed its uranium-enrichment activities despite pressure from the global community not to do so. Also, Iran decided to delay negotiations with Russia that are intended to end the standoff. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2950 level. The euro was up marginally vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5570 level while the British pound weakened vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 2.2715 level.


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