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Tuesday April 18, 2006 - 15:06:37 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (18 April 2006)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2300 figure and was supported around the $1.2225 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 61.8% retracement of the move from $1.2590 to $1.1640. Liquidity returned to normal today following the extended Easter holiday weekend. Several factors have contributed to the dollar’s sell-off during the past day or so. First, there was a dovish report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal suggesting some Fed members are not convinced that much more tightening is needed. The dollar partially sold off on this news on the premise the current monetary tightening cycle may be over sooner rather than later. Most traders expect the Federal Open Market Committee to lift the federal funds target rate by +25bps on 10 May. Minutes from the Fed’s most recent monetary policy meeting will be released later today. Second, a Chinese official yesterday intimated that China can reduce its purchases of U.S. Treasuries, a move that could see less foreign capital imported into the U.S. to finance the U.S.’s massive current account and trade deficits. Third, oil and gas have spiked blisteringly high over the past couple of days and the dollar is bearing the brunt of these moves. Fourth, a letter written by Fed Chairman Bernanke on 5 April was published today in which he suggested the increase in energy prices should not have an appreciable impact on U.S. inflation if the Fed acts appropriately. Fifth, March U.S. producer price inflation was relatively tame last month with the headline rate up 0.5% and the ex-food and energy component up only +0.1%. Also, March U.S. housing starts were off 7.8% to 1.960 million units, less-than-expected, while housing permits were also lower. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2340 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥117.50 level and was capped around the ¥118.20 level. Chartists are eyeing the ¥117.40 level as the pair’s next major area of support. Bank of Japan released a quarterly report on regional economies overnight and indicated “The economy as a whole continues to recover steadily: improvement in major cities has been prominent and other regions continue to be on the recovery trend” with many regions reporting “relatively positive” private consumption and housing investment. BoJ Governor Fukui reiterated the central bank will make “appropriate” monetary policy decisions to encourage price stability and sustained economic growth. Traders are hungry for any clues from BoJ when it will lift interest rates from their near zero per cent level. The February leading economic index and coincident indices will be released tonight. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.37% to close at ¥17,232.86. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥117.10/ 116.80 levels. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥144.75 level and was supported around the ¥144.20 level, just below lifetime highs. The British pound and Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥209.25 and ¥92.50 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback tested closed at the CNY 8.0240 level in over-the-counter trading, up from CNY 8.0205, and at CNY 8.0188 in exchange-traded activity. Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Zoellick called on China to accelerate the pace of yuan liberalization, saying China is moving “agonizingly slow.” Chinese President Hu visits President Bush in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss currency and trade issues. Data released in Chian today saw retail sales rise 12.2% y/y in Q1.


The British pound extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7785 level and was supported around the $1.7680 level. Today’s intraday high is the pair’s strongest showing since 3 February. Data released in the U.K. today saw RICS house prices up for the fifth consecutive month in March while Rightmove reported house prices were up 1.1% m/m in April. The big driver for sterling today was a quarterly survey from Bank of England that indicated inflation expectations are at their highest level since 1999 with median expectations of inflation for the coming year at 2.7%, up from 2.2% in November. Sterling gained ground on the premise the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is not inclined to lower interest rates any further. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7880 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6900 figure and was capped around the £0.6925 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2710 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2820 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the CHF 76.4% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2555 to CHF 1.3235. Swiss March producer and import prices will be released tomorrow. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2640 level. The euro and British pound weakened vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5635 and CHF 2.2585 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7410 level and was supported around the $ 0.7365 level. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7450 level.


The Canadian dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.1410 level and was capped around the C$ 1.1465 level. Today’s intraday low is the pair’s weakest showing since 7 March. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1460 level.


The New Zealand dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6295 level and was supported around the $ 0.6230 level. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6375 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold extended its strong gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 618.65 level and was supported around the $612.85 level. Today’s intraday high represents a fresh 25-year high. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested offers around the US$ 13.80 level and was supported around the $13.40 level, a fresh 23-year high.

Crude oil

Crude oil rocketed higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude futures for June delivery tested offers around the US$ 72.50 level and was supported around the $71.80 level. Today’s intraday highs represent lifetime highs and traders cite lingering concerns in Iran and Nigeria as the reasons for the spike higher.


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