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Monday March 13, 2006 - 15:04:26 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (13 March 2006)

The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.1970 level and remained supported around the $1.1910 level. The common currency was the main mover during Australasian dealing after the United Arab Emirates’ central bank said it may convert some 10% of its foreign exchange reserves into euros. This central bank currently holds about US$ 23 billion in foreign reserves and the story is linked to the refusal of some U.S. legislators to allow UAE’s Dubai Ports World to manage facilities at six major U.S. ports. European Central Bank President Trichet touched on this topic in remarks from the G10 meeting in Basel saying protectionism is a global economic risk. EMU-12 finance ministers convene in Brussels tonight and are likely to express some concern over the European Central Bank’s most recent monetary tightening. The European Union may also instruct Germany to reduce its deficit below 3% of GDP by 2007. German ZEW sentiment will be released tomorrow. In U.S. news, February retail sales data due tomorrow are expected to evidence a pullback last month and the U.S. current account deficit is expected to have widened. Treasury International Capital portfolio flows data later in the week will see to what extent the U.S. was able to finance its trade deficit two months ago. February consumer price inflation data will be released on Thursday. Remarks from San Francisco Fed President Yellen and Fed Governor Olson are expected today. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2000 figure.

¥/ CNY

The yen came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥119.05 level and was supported around the ¥118.75 level. Today’s intraday high is about 35 pips short of a fresh 2006 high. A couple of factors contributed to the yen’s weakness today. First, October – December GDP growth was downwardly revised to +1.3% q/q and an annualized +5.4% on account of slower corporate spending. Second, foreign investors reduced their purchases of Japanese equities last month to below the ¥1 trillion level for the first time in eight months and were also net sellers of Japanese bonds and short-term money market instruments. Third, Bank of Japan Governor Fukui was quoted as saying it is premature to discuss interest rate hikes, just days after the central bank ended its long-standing quantitative easing policy. BoJ Policy Board’s Mizuno said “The BoJ needs to convey the message that the lifting of quantitative monetary easing is not the end, but that monetary policy is still in the process of normalization.” Traders are currently pricing in about one monetary tightening by BoJ through the end of the year. Other data released in Japan today saw the February consumer confidence index inch up to 49.8 from 49.5 while the January current account surplus fell 7.6% y/y to ¥719.1 billion. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.53% to close at ¥16,361.51. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥118.35 level. The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥142.15 level and was supported around the ¥141.60 level. Technically, the ¥142.05 level represents the 76.4% retracement of the move from ¥143.60 to ¥137.10. The British pound and Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥205.75 and ¥90.55 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar in over-the-counter trade as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0492, down from CNY 8.0511, and was unchanged at CNY 8.0505 in exchange-traded activity. Data released in China today saw its February trade surplus print at US$ 2.45 billion while January – February actual foreign direct investment was up 7.79% y/y to US$ 8.59 billion. Additionally, the February consumer price index was up 0.9% y/y. It was also announced the Chicago Mercantile Exchange will offer its currency and interest rate products to Chinese investors via the China Foreign Exchange Trade System.

The British pound came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7230 level and was capped around the $1.7295 level. Cable moved to within 50 pips of its 2006 low earlier today. Data released in the U.K. today saw February input prices unchanged m/m and at their weakest level since September 2005, while output prices were up 0.3% m/m with the annual PPI rate unchanged at 2.9%. These data suggest there may be more room for Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to lower interest rates absent significant input cost increases. Also, January ODPM house prices climbed 4.3% y/y, the latest indication that annual house price inflation remained solid in early 2006. In another positive report, the London Retail Consortium reported retail sales were up 9.6% y/y in London last month. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7320 level. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6925 level and was supported around the £0.6895 level.


The Swiss franc notched marginal gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.3125 level and was capped around the CHF 1.3170 level. Technically, the CHF 1.3150 level represents the 76.4% retracement of the move from CHF 1.3235 to CHF 1.2895. Swiss National Bank’s interest rate decision will be announced on Thursday. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.3105/ 1.3065 levels. The euro and British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5680 and CHF 2.2680 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar was up marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7340 level and was supported around the $0.7305 level. The pair came within five pips of establishing a new 2006 low. The February NAB business survey will be released overnight and Reserve Bank of Australia’s Lowe is expected to speak. Australian dollar offers are cited around the $0.7435 level.


The Canadian dollar extended its recent pullback vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1635 level and was supported around the C$ 1.1590 level. Technically, the pair stopped just short of testing the 50% retracement of the move from C$ 1.1975 to $1.1300. Q4 capacity utilization data are expected in Canada today. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1715 level.


The New Zealand dollar came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested bids around the US$ 6400 figure and was capped around the $0.6435 level. Today’s intraday low was right at a fresh low dating back to August 2004. Q4 manufacturing activity will be released on Wednesday. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6520 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 545.00 figure and was supported around the $538.60 level. The pair continues to claw back from recent consolidating pressures that saw it inch some $40 away from recent multi-year highs around the $574.60 level. Comments from ECB President Trichet that global interest rate hikes do not inhibit economic growth helped the pair higher as did Iran’s latest rebuff of Russia’s offer to resolve the former’s nuclear standoff with the global community. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar and tested offers around the US$ 10.015 level and was supported around the $9.86 level. Traders await SEC approval of a new silver-backed, exchange-traded fund.

Crude oil

Crude oil failed to sustain gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today and tested bids around the US$ 59.60 level after running out of steam around the $60.40 level. Iran announced yesterday that it would no longer consider a Russian proposal that would have potentially ended the dispute regarding Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The United Nations Security Council is expected to convene this week and issue a statement urging Iran to end its enrichment of uranium but it may stop short of sanctions at this time. Trades also continue to monitor events in hotspots like Iraq, Ecuador, and Nigeria.


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