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Monday March 20, 2006 - 14:05:57 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (20 March 2006)

The euro shed ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2155 level after failing to get above the $1.2195 level. On Friday, the common currency reached its strongest level since late January as dealers reacted to changing sentiment regarding the projected course of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. Fed Chairman Bernanke speaks about the yield curve and monetary policy tonight and his comments will be closely watched. Remarks from San Francisco Fed President Yellen will also be watched tonight as she last week threw her weight behind the adoption of an inflation target by the Fed, a Bernanke pet project. In eurozone news, European Central Bank President Trichet said “We have not already decided on a series of monthly increases for interest rates. On the other hand, we will do everything necessary to guarantee price stability.” In fact, traders are now pricing in about a 50% chance the ECB will lift interest rates in May. ECB member Gonzalez-Paramo spoke today and noted the EMU-12 economy is growing more than expected and more than the central bank estimated in December. Data released in Germany added to inflation hawks’ view that eurozone borrowing costs are moving higher as German producer prices notched their strongest year-on-year rise last month since June 1982. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2225 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥116.40 level and was supported around the ¥115.85 level. The pair gave up more than 300 pips last week and closed below the ¥116.00 figure. There was a lack of fresh news in Japan overnight and traders instead focused on other stories like Bank of Japan’s recent ending of its long-standing quantitative easing policy, and eventual interest rate normalization. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.74% to close at ¥16,624.80. Japanese trade balance and corporate services price data will be released on Thursday. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥116.80 level. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥141.70 level and was supported around the ¥141.20 level. The British pound and Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥204.25 and ¥90.15 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan gained considerable ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0250 in over-the-counter trade, down from CNY 8.0315, and closed at CNY 8.0241 in the exchange-traded market. Today’s closes represent the pair’s strongest closings after the 21 July 2005 yuan revaluations by People’s Bank of China. Notably, they took place as U.S. Senators including Graham and Schumer visit China with a threat of enacting 27.5% tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. if the yuan is not revalued sufficiently. The Chinese government reported the economy will likely expand 7.5% per annum between 2006 and 2010. Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the U.S. next month.


The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7525 level and was capped around the $1.7585 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 50% retracement of the move from $1.7130 to $1.7935. Many economic data were released in the U.S. today. Bank of England released a key quarterly survey of inflation expectations today that reported the median estimate for inflation in the coming year is now around 2.6%, up from 2.2% in the previous survey. This suggests the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee has less scope to expand monetary policy. CPI is right about 1.9% in the U.K. at this time. Rightmove reported a deceleration in house price growth this month, up +0.9% m/m. CML reported U.K. gross mortgage lending slowed from January but reached its highest level ever for the month of February, consistent with similar reports from BBA and BSA. It was also reported that U.K. public finances weakened last month after recording a record surplus in February. Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown will give his annual Budget speech on Wednesday. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7600 figure. The euro was largely unchanged vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6945 level and was supported around the £0.6930 level.


The Swiss franc was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2940 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2890 level. The pair lost more than 250 pips last week as traders reduced dollar exposure on account of shifts in U.S. interest rate expectations. Data released in Switzerland today saw Q4 industrial production ruse 3.9% y/y while industrial output including construction was up 7.8%. Traders continue to monitor heightened geopolitical events for their possible impact on safe-haven buying of the Swiss franc. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2815 level. The euro and British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5705 and CHF 2.2630 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$0.7175 level and was capped around the $0.7285 level. Today’s intraday low was the pair’s weakest print since October 2004. Q4 dwelling starts will be released tonight. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7250 level.


The Canadian dollar lost significant ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1680 level and was supported around the C$ 1.1570 level. Today’s intraday high was the pair’s strongest print since 19 January. Canadian retail sales data will be released tomorrow. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1715 level.


The New Zealand dollar tumbled vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested bids around the US$0.6235 level after running out of steam around the $0.6355 level. Major stops were hit below the $0.6275 level, representing the 76.4% retracement of the move from $0.5910 to $0.7465. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$0.6360 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested bids around the US$ 550.60 level and was capped around the $556.20 level. Gold is off nearly $25 from its multi-decade high of $574.60 reached on 2 February. Some dealers believe physical demand will keep the pair bid over the coming weeks. Silver weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar and tested bids around the $10.2475 level after running out of steam around the $10.4012 level. Current levels are near 22-year highs amidst speculation that a new silver-backed, exchange-traded fund will soon be approved by U.S. regulators.

Crude oil

Crude oil moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet crude for May delivery tested bids around the US$ 63.79 level and was capped around the $64.45 level. News that a Nigerian pipeline operated by Italy’s Agip was sabotaged this weekend had some bulls on the move but they were largely overshadowed by stronger-than-normal supplies of oil. Some crude bears noted that the U.S. and Iran may hold talks on Iraq in the near future and this has some speculating a diplomatic solution to resolving or ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions may be announced soon.


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