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Friday February 17, 2006 - 11:35:59 GMT
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JPY has a wild session on strong GDP report. USD/JPY looks to test 119.30 if 118.30 resistance falls.

Strange night for the JPY as the focus was perhaps the lower than expected GDP deflator rather than the higher than expected growth - which was a whopping 5.5% annualized.

• US Philadelphia Fed Survey for February was out yesterday at 15.4 vs. 9.1 expected
• Crude Oil prices rose sharply yesterday after the recent 10-dollar sell-off.
• Australia RBA's Macfarlane said overnight that rates are more likely to be raised than lowered.
• New Zealand's national bank said that growth probably slowed in 2005.
• Bernanke was clearly critical of China's currency policy in his testimony to the senate yesterday.
• Japan Q4 GDP was estimated at 1.4% QoQ and 5.5% on an annualized basis - far stronger than the 1.2% and 4.9% expected, respectively
• Japan's Q4 GDP deflator out at -1.6% vs. -1.5% expected.

Market moves: JPY initially moved stronger on the GDP report, but then weakened sharply again toward support. AUD was weak and NZD weakest.

A bouncy Asian session, with the RBA's Macfarlane out with more hawkish language than expected - though Macfarlane also added to his statement about rates that "we don't have a plan". But in any case - it seems the market was pushing for a higher likelihood of a cut, which this rhetoric clearly rejects. Macfarlane said that economic growth and inflation will pick up "modestly" this year. Perhaps we'll finally see a big move down in AUD/USD today or soon, anyway. Interesting to see that AUD couldn't garner any support on this speech nor on the rally in metals. NZD/USD is also through that huge 0.6700 level that everyone has been talking about for months now - is it on the way to 0.6500 or is that a crowded trade?

EUR/SEK was a big mover yesterday as it sliced through the upside-down head and shoulders formation with the neckline in the 9.35/7 area. Seems further progress toward 9.48/50 is the path of least resistance there.
JPY certainly looked weak overnight, with the GDP report failing to generate any excitement. Clearly, the focus was on the lack of inflation rather than the actual growth figure. If USD/JPY gets through that 118.30 level, it may go on to test the 119.30 resistance next.

Very interesting to note Bernanke's clearly critical stance on China's currency policy - a stark contrast with Greenspan's complacency (and almost pro-China stance) on this issue. Will this embolden US lawmakers and put the CNY issue back on the front burner soon? Since China "semi-floated" back in July of last year, CNY has gained only a little over 0.5% vs. the USD.
In general, it's also very interesting to note the lack of any volatility on the Bernanke testimony as the market seems to have priced in the even beforehand and there was no "surprise side". Whither next? We'll let 1.1850 and 1.1950 in EUR/USD decide - but the USD picture is looking fairly strong again if we don't develop a strong sell-off very soon...

Up today we have US PPI and University of Michigan Confidence. We're not expecting any big surprises in these numbers. Note that the headline PPI number from December has already been revised down to 0.6% from 0.9%. Also - the "energy" aspect in all of these inflation numbers is key, as the year-on-year PPI number is expected at +5.7% vs. only +1.4% ex F&E. Core inflation is certainly the key focus considering the recent plummeting of energy prices.

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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