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Thursday February 16, 2006 - 10:41:12 GMT
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Bernanke's talk of "overheating" potential for the economy pulls the USD strong. US rates hardly budged, however.

Biggest turnaround was in USD/JPY as brief attempt at 116.90 support was sharply rejected. US Housing Starts data and Philly Fed up today.


MAJOR HEADLINES – PREVIOUS SESSION
• Bernanke, in his testimony yesterday, discussed the risk of an "overheating" US economy, but also recognized other risks, such as oil prices and a cooling housing market. Bernanke declined to comment on specific many policy issues unrelated to monetary policy.
• Oil fell sharply and is now down $10 in just over two weeks
• UK RICS House Price Balance for January was out at 9% vs. 10% expected and 8% in December

Market moves: USD weakened to support levels and then strengthened sharply during Bernanke's testimony - though it stayed within recent ranges.

THEMES TO WATCH – UPCOMING SESSION
Bernanke's mention of the risk of an "overheating" economy made it more likely that the Fed will increase rates at least two more times to bring the Fed funds rate to 5.00%. There was a consolidation attempt at pushing the USD weaker as Bernanke was starting his testimony, but it was very short-lived, and EUR/USD couldn't work its way through the 1.1930/50 zone of resistance. The obvious implications of this are that we will see a further rise in the USD and could see EUR/USD lower still - though we're not so sure that a USD rally will develop as long as US fixed income isn't on the move (currently the entire curve is virtually unchanged from its level before Mr. Bernanke's testimony). In any case, moves to a stronger USD may be relatively modest and we keep the 1.1800 level as a psychologically significant one in the bigger picture. For USD/JPY, there may be a bit more wiggle room higher toward 119.20 if 118.30 falls.

Don't forget that we have a repeat performance from the new Fed chairman today - this time in front of the Senate. It was key to note Mr. Bernanke's refusal to comment on various non-monetary policy issues. Greenspan was famous for doing this and it garnered him consider political capital. Mr. Bernanke has developed no political capital, so he's staying firmly in his monetary policy "box". This means we have a less powerful Fed post for the moment than previously, and it also means we're less likely to see any market-shaking comments during today's Q&A session before the Senate. Mr. Bernanke made a positive impression it seems, both in terms of his authority and clarity of expression, and his style is a remarkable departure from Greenspan's.

In any case, The market is practically unchanged from where it was yesterday - and it's hard to imagine it staying so through the rest of the week. Consider small options positions until we get a firmer indicator on the USD direction here. Mr. Bill Gross of the world's largest bond fund pointed out that his company was concentrating on buying at the front end of the curve, as he only expected another couple of hikes max from the Fed. This should be considered USD bearish, because value at the front end of the curve must mean that the rate hike story is soon dead. The next two Fed meetings are on March 28 and May 10.

Up today we have UK Retail Sales at 0930 GMT, US Housing Starts and Building Permits at 13:30 GMT, and the US Philly Fed at 17:00 GMT - and of course Mr. Bernanke at 1500 again...

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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