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Tuesday April 4, 2006 - 14:19:09 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (4 April 2006)

The euro appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2255 level and was supported around the $1.2120 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 50% retracement of the move from $1.2590 to $1.1640. Traders continue to point to yesterday’s strong EMU-12 PMI surveys as an indication manufacturing activity is improving in the eurozone and were generally underwhelmed by the U.S.’s PMI survey that evidenced a deceleration in manufacturing growth. Most dealers do not expect the European Central Bank to change monetary policy this week but a move cannot be ruled out. Even if the ECB does not lift interest rates on Thursday, hawkish remarks from ECB President Trichet are expected to set the stage for a move in May. Ten-year German government Bund yields are now around 3.84%, about an eighteen-month high. Data released in the eurozone today saw February unemployment print at 8.2%, better-than-expected and below January’s 8.3% level. Also, February EMU-12 PPI was up 0.5% and 5.4% y/y. In U.S. news, the Challenger survey of impending job reductions fell in March to its lowest level in eleven months. The big event on traders’ radar this week in the U.S. is of course Friday’s March non-farm payrolls number. Weekly initial jobless claims have hovered around the 300,000 mark and many traders expect a significant figure on Friday. A failure to see a strong jobless print will leave many traders with the impression the Federal Open Market Committee only has one more rate hike in its current tightening cycle. The U.S. Treasury accounted a G7 meeting of central bankers and finance ministers will be held on 21 April. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2365 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥117.30 level and was capped around the ¥117.95 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just below the 23.60% retracement of the move from ¥113.40 to ¥119.40. Data released in Japan overnight saw the March monetary base decline for the first time in more than five years, a result of Bank of Japan Policy Board’s decision to end its long-standing quantitative easing policy on 9 March. Dealers continue to cite evidence of significant Japanese investment in overseas markets just two business days into Japan’s new fiscal year. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.23% to close at ¥17,292.91. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥116.55 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥143.95 level and was supported around the ¥142.70 level. The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥206.10 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥91.00 figure. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0160 in the over-the-counter market and at CNY 8.0171 in the exchange-traded market, down from CNY 8.0190. A story printed overnight that a Chinese legislative official said China should reduce its holdings of U.S. debts but the government has recently said its foreign exchange earnings have been satisfactory. An appreciable percentage of China’s foreign exchange holdings are believed to be in U.S. Treasuries.


The British pound moved sharply higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7555 level and was supported around the $1.7365 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was about twenty pips below the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.8495 to $1.7045. The move higher in sterling was fueled by a strong Bank of England mortgage equity withdrawal survey that confirmed a withdrawal of £11.8 billion in Q4 2005, up from a revised £8.9 billion in Q3. This equity could fuel consumer spending and final private demand and sterling moved higher on the notion the central bank will not be inclined to expand monetary policy anytime soon. These data are consistent with other data that evidence a stabilization in the housing sector including home price and sales activity. Other data released in the U.K. today saw March construction PMI increase to 54.7 from 51.9 in February, a six-month high. BoE’s MPC is not expected to change policy on Thursday. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7635 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6990 level and was supported around the $0.6965 level.


The Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2875 level and was capped around the $1.3060 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was just below the 38.2% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2240 to CHF 1.3285. Data released in Switzerland today saw March CPI decline 0.1% m/m and up 1.0% y/y. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2810 level. The euro and British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5790 and CHF 2.2605 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7215 level and was supported around the $ 0.7115 level. Data released in Australia today saw the Reserve Bank of Australia commodity price index decline 0.2 last month. Also, a Dun & Bradstreet survey released today saw Australian businesses report they expect higher consumer spending. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7260 level.


The Canadian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bidss around the C$ 1.1670 level and was capped around the $1.1755 level. Canada’s March PMI survey will be released on Thursday. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1815 level.


The New Zealand dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested bids around the US$ 0.6010 level and was capped around the $ 0.6115 level. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6230 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 591.40 level and was supported around the $581.40 level, right around a fresh 25-year high. Dealers are eyeing the US$ 600.00 figure as the pair’s next significant upside target and some believe crude oil’s ability to hang above the $65.00 figure is supportive for gold. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the pair tested offers around the $11.79 level and was supported around the $11.47 level. Some traders believe silver may reach US$ 12.00 this week.

Crude oil

Crude oil moved came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet crude for May delivery tested bids around the US$ 65.80 level and was capped around the $67.10 level. Traders expect tomorrow’s weekly U.S. government inventory report to evidence a 900,000 barrel rise in crude stocks with a 1.8 million barrel decline in gasoline stocks. An Iranian government official confirmed Iran will continue to move ahead with its nuclear enrichment program.


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