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Friday February 17, 2006 - 15:04:41 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 February 2006)



The euro came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.1860 level and was capped around the US$ 1.1915 level. Technically, the common currency has remained in a relatively tight range all week save a brief move to the $1.1950 level on Wednesday. Data released in the U.S. today saw January producer prices climb more-than-expected with the headline PPI figure printing at +0.3% and the ex-food and energy component up +0.4%. This increase in core prices represented the largest jump in one year and December’s headline and core rates were revised to +0.6% and +0.1%, respectively. Over the past year, PPI has increased 5.7% while core prices have climbed +1.5%. Traders are very curious to see if this increase in core price pressures translates into an increase in consumer price inflation data when they are released next week. Given the recent uptick in wage price pressures, traders are curious to see how extensive so-called “second-round” inflation pressures are. Many traders are on the sidelines today, unwilling to assume a lot of market risk ahead of the three-day holiday weekend in the U.S. In eurozone news, December EMU-12 industrial production exceeded expectations for the second consecutive month. Bundesbank’s Remsperger spoke today and said “risks for price stability have remained high in the medium term” since last autumn. In other German mews, the government there characterized the economic outlook as “very favourable.” Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.1935/ 85 levels.


¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated significantly vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥118.85 level and was supported around the ¥117.30 level. Stops were triggered above the ¥118.40 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥108.75 to ¥121.40. A mixed bag of economic data in Japan pressured the yen as traders revised their thinking regarding the forthcoming shift in Bank of Japan’s long-standing quantitative easing policy. It was reported that Q4 GDP was up 1.4% q/q and an annualized 5.5%, above the U.S.’s and eurozone’s rates of growth. The Q4 GDP deflator, however, worsened to -1.6% y/y from from Q3’s -1.3% y/y pace. This is a confirmation that deflation appears to have worsened at the end of 2005. Many traders had expected Bank of Japan policymakers to change policies as early as next month but this seems an impossibility now and probably pushes a policy shift out further. One school of thought is that the BoJ Policy Board will make a move on 28 April. Prime Minister Koizumi touched on the subject and said while the decision rests with the central bank, it is clear deflation pressures still persist. Regarding the GDP figure, it is noteworthy that domestic demand, private consumption, non-residential investment, and exports all improved. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 2.06% to close at ¥15,713.45. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥117.95/ 10 levels. The euro rocketed higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥141.00 figure and was supported around the ¥139.75 level. The British pound and Swiss franc rallied vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥206.15 and ¥90.30 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar in over-the-counter trade as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0488, up from CNY 8.0487. In exchange-traded activity, the pair depreciated as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0483, down from CNY 8.0494. Traders are talking about Fed Chairman Bernanke’s comments on China from the past two days. Bernanke said it is in China’s best interest to liberalize the yuan but did not pressure the Chinese on a timetable. In this regard, Bernanke’s comments did not deviate much from Greenspan’s comments on the same topic. Another hurdle for China will be the mid-April Treasury report in which China hopes to avoid being deemed a “currency manipulator.” Also, a bill in the U.S. Congress calls for a revocation of China’s permanent Normal Trade Relations status if the yuan fails to appreciate significantly, along with a 27.5% tariff on Chinese imports.



The British pound came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7330 level and was capped around the $1.7395 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was just above fifteen pips above the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.7130 to $1.7935. Traders had an anything but straightforward week with regard to U.K. economic data and interest rate expectations. A pullback in consumer price inflation and a deceleration in retail sales leads many to believe the Bank of England is on the verge of lowering interest rates while a less dovish-than-expected quarterly inflation report has other market participants believe the central bank is not going to reduce borrowing costs anytime soon. Remarks from BoE Governor King were optimistic regarding consumption. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7435/ 1.7490 levels. The euro was largely unchanged vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6850 level and was supported around the £0.6830 level.

CHF

The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.3175 level and was supported around the CHF 1.3085 level. Technically, today’s intraday high represents the pair’s strongest print in 2006. Data released in Switzerland today saw Swiss import and producer prices climb 0.2% m/m in January and were up 1.7% y/y, consistent with expectations. Producer prices were up 1.5% y/y and import prices gained 2.1% y/y. Traders continue to monitor heightened geopolitical risks and how they related to safe-haven interest in the Swiss franc, particularly Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.3045 level. The euro and British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5635 and CHF 2.2850 levels, respectively.

 

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