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Thursday March 2, 2006 - 15:05:34 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (2 March 2006)

The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.1965 level and was supported around the $1.1915 level. Techncially, the pair continues to orbit the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.2320 to $1.1825 and chartists are eyeing the $1.1980 level as the next upside target. As expected, European Central Bank tightened monetary policy today and lifted the main refinancing rate by +25bps to 2.50%. The move had been well-telegraphed for months and ECB President Trichet reported rates remain “accommodative” and added the central bank will “monitor closely” risks to price stability. The big question in traders’ minds is whether the ECB will tighten again soon or whether today’s and December’s moves were “one-off” hikes. EMU-12 interest rate futures are currently pricing in a benchmark rate around 3.0% by the end of the year, compared with 5.0% for the U.S. in the fed funds futures market. In other ECB news, European media are speculation ECB Vice President Papademos will replace outgoing ECB Chief Economist Issing in May. It was also reported that EMU-12 January producer price inflation climbed 1.2% m/m and 5.3% y/y while German January retail sales were up 2.7% m/m and 1.7% y/y. Also, German January new orders for machinery and plant were up 25% y/y. In U.S. news, weekly initial jobless claims were up 15,000 to 294,000 while Challenger planned layoffs were down 15.5% last month to the lowest level since October. Many traders expect a stellar non-farm payrolls number in the U.S. for the month of February. Tomorrow’s University of Michigan consumer sentiment number will be closely watched by traders following a string of relatively disappointing data this week in the U.S. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2015/ 75 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥116.40 level and was supported around the ¥115.95 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 50% retracement of the move from ¥113.40 to ¥119.40. The big news in Japan overnight was a media report that Bank of Japan may utilize a “reference rate” for consumer price inflation to help the markets understand its policy. Such a policy may fall short of a formal inflation target but could help markets decipher its monetary policy goals nonetheless and increase central bank transparency. Some traders continue to believe BoJ will begin to unwind its long-standing quantitative easing policy as early as next Thursday while others think the central bank may shift policy regimes on 28 April. Tonight’s inflation data in Japan are expected to evidence core CPI of about +0.4%. MoF’s Watanabe verbally intervened in the FX market overnight, nothing currency moves have been “rough” and added the government “would act if needed.” Data released in Japan overnight saw the February monetary base climb 1.9% y/y and capital flows data saw foreign investors as net buyers of Japanese equities in the week ending 25 February. In other government news, the lower house of parliament approved the ¥79.69 trillion federal budget for the fiscal year to March 2007. This represents the first decline in spending plans in four years and the first time the budget has been below ¥80 trillion in eight years. New bond issuance is pegged at ¥29.97 trillion, the first offering below ¥30 trillion in five years. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.34% to close at ¥15,909.76. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥115.70 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥139.00 figure and was supported around the ¥138.25 level. Stops were hit above the ¥138.65 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥143.60 to ¥137.10. The British pound came off vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥202.70 level while the Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥88.80 level. The Chinese yuan came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0380, up from CNY 8.0373 in the over-the-counter market, and closed at CNY 8.0366 in exchange-traded activity.

The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7435 level and was unable to get above the $1.7520 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.7935 to $1.7280. Data released in the U.K. today saw February CIPS construction PMI climb to 51.9 on account of the improving housing sector. The CIPS services PMI survey will be released tomorrow. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7530/ $1.7625 levels. 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 £0.6810 level.


The Swiss franc gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.3075 level and was capped around the CHF 1.3135 level. Technically, the CHF 1.3045 represents a downside target for the pair and chartists are curious to see if the pair can reclaim the CHF 1.3200 figure. Data released in Switzerland today saw Q4 GDP climb a real 0.5% q/q and 2.7% y/y. For all of 2005, economic activity expanded 1.9%, down from 2004’s pace of 2.1%. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.3000 figure. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5660 level while the British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 2.2850 level.


The Australian dollar gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7470 level and was supported around the US$ 0.7445 level. The pair is now trading at its highest level since 6 February and Citibank is said to have initiated a buy rating on the Aussie overnight. Data released in Australia overnight saw January building approvals off 1.9% m/m and 12.5% y/y while January retail sales were up 0.8% m/m. ANZ reported economic growth is expected to be about 3.0% or higher in 2006 despite subdued household spending. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7490 level.


The Canadian dollar gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.1330 level and was capped around the C$ 1.1370 level. Technically, today’s intraday low matched yesterday’s multi-year low for the pair. Most traders expect Bank of Canada to lift interest rates by +25bps to 3.75% next week. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1395 level.


The New Zealand dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6665 level and was supported around the $0.6640 level. Technically, the pair is trying to establish a base around the $0.6645 level, representing the 23.6% retracemnt of the move from $0.6920 to $0.6560. In New Zealand news, two uridashi bond issues were announced overnight totaling NZ$ 880 million. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6695 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as gold tested offers around the US$ 565.60 level and was supported around the $ 561.40 level. Continued tensions in Nigeria, Iran, and Iraq are lending some geopolitical support to the yellow metal. Some technicians believe gold will continue to build a base around US$ 560.00. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as silver tested offers around the US$ 9.89 level and was supported around the $9.72 level. A worker’s strike at a large Mexican silver mine contributed to the pair’s gains.

Crude oil

Crude oil gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as NYMEX crude for April delivery tested offers around the US$ 62.75 level and was supported around the $61.70 level. Nigerian militants threatened more attacks against that country’s oil production capacity and this chased the price higher. Data released in the U.S. yesterday saw crude oil stocks up 1.6 million barrels last week, up 9% y/y, while gasoline stocks were up 300,000 barrels to the highest level since June 1999. In Iranian news, the European Union and Tehran officials are meeting to try and reach a truce involving the latter’s nuclear ambitions. More EU talks will be held tomorrow. OPEC meets on 8 March to consider output levels.


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