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Wednesday April 5, 2006 - 14:37:56 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (5 April 2006)

The euro extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2295 level and was supported around the US$ 1.2245 level. The common currency has not been this strong since 25 January of this year and chartists are eyeing the $1.2340 level as the pair’s next upside target. Traders continue to link the U.S. dollar’s fortunes to perceptions about monetary policy in the U.S. Kansas City Fed President Hoenig was quoted as saying “(The Fed is) very close to where (it) needs to be,” an indication the Federal Open Market Committee only has one or two monetary tightenings left in its arsenal. To this end, all eyes are on this Friday’s March U.S. non-farm payrolls report. In contrast, traders believe the European Central Bank has more than a couple of rate hikes left this year, perhaps as early as tomorrow or May and perhaps as much as another +100bps. Strong eurozone manufacturing data cemented the view the ECB will continue to lift its main refinancing rate. Even if the ECB went another +100bps this year, the U.S. dollar would still enjoy about +150bps of positive official short-term yield differential over the euro. Some traders dumped the dollar yesterday on a recurring story that official Middle Eastern accounts and China are reducing U.S. dollar exposure in their foreign reserve portfolios. Data released in the U.S. today saw mortgage applications climb 7.2% w/w in the week ending 31 March. Also, the March ISM services index printed at 60.5, up from 60.1 in February. Data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-12 services PMI print at 58.2, just below expectations but at a five-year high. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2365 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen weakened marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥117.65 level and was supported around the ¥116.65 level. Dealers continued to cite evidence that Japanese investors are moving capital into overseas markets during this first week of Japan’s new fiscal year. There are not many Japanese economic data scheduled for release this week. Traders remain focused on any clues as to when Bank of Japan will begin to raise interest rates from their current near-zero per cent level. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.28% to close at ¥17,243.98. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥116.45 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥144.50 level and was supported around the ¥143.20 level. Today’s high represents the cross’s highest non-synthetic level ever. The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥205.20 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥91.55 level. The Chinese yuan appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0073 in the exchange-traded market, down from CNY 8.0171, and at CNY 8.0087 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 8.0160. Today’s closes represent the yuan’s strongest levels since the yuan revaluation on 21 July 2005. Data released in China overnight saw the Q1 business climate index off 1.0% y/y. People’s Bank of China Vice Governor Wu Xiaoling today said “There's no comparability between countries in terms of foreign exchange reserves and China has no target for the size of its foreign exchange reserves.” China is now officially the world’s largest holder of foreign exchange reserves with some US$ 853.7 billion officially under its belt.


The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7500 figure after running out of steam around the $1.7615 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just above the 38.2% retracement of the move from $1.8495 to $1.7045. Data released in the U.K. today saw February manufacturing output record its first monthly pullback since October. Also, the March CIPS services PMI fell back to 57.4 from February’s 58.9 level. Similarly, BRC reported its March shop price index evidenced a 1.17% y/y decline, the largest year-on-year decline in thirteen months. Finally, Nationwide reported U.K. consumer sentiment stabilized last month after three months of declines. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7600 figure. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the £0.7020 level and was supported around the £0.6965 level. Today’s high is the pair’s strongest showing since January 2005.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2820 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2920 level. Technically, today’s intraday low is around the 61.8% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2555 to CHF 1.3235. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2810 level. The euro and British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5765 and CHF 90.65 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7275 level and was supported around the $ 0.7200 figure. Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates unchanged at 5.50%. NAB released a report overnight predicting RBA rates may have to move higher later this year. Data released in Australia overnight saw the March performance of services index rise to 51.0. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7280 level.


The Canadian dollar appreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.1595 level and was capped around the $1.1650 level. U.S. dollar bears are eyeing the C$ 1.1535/ $1.1480 levels as downside targets. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1715 level.


The New Zealand dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6150 level and was supported around the $ 0.6085 level. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6230 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested bids around the US$ 582.05 level and was capped around the $589.50 level. The pair shied away from the psychologically-important US$ 600 figure but many dealers believe heightened geopolitical risks will continue to support the pair.

Crude oil

Crude oil moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet crude for May delivery tested offers around the US$ 66.44 level and was supported around the $65.74 level. Traders cited evidence that Nigerian oil output is slow to restart following recent militant unrest. More than 500,000 barrels per day of production have been displaced for nearly two months. Traders await U.S. government energy supply data today.


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