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Thursday April 20, 2006 - 15:08:40 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (20 April 2006)

The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2315 level and was capped around the US$ 1.2380 level. Technically, the pair continues to stall ahead of the $ 1.2410 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from $ 0.8340 to $1.3660. Data released in the U.S. today saw weekly initial jobless claims fall 10,000 to 303,000, a signal the labour market may become even tighter, while continuing claims were up 18,000 to 2.439 million in the latest period. There is still a bearish overhang over the dollar this week as it has slumped significantly vis-à-vis many currencies. Traders have backpedaled on their expectations regarding additional monetary tightenings from the Federal Open Market Committee. Minutes from the FOMC’s most recent policy meeting revealed many policymakers believe official rates are near a peak. In contrast, borrowing costs could easily increase further this year in the eurozone. ECB member Weber today said central banks need to remain “vigilant” against the so-called second-round effects of inflation from high oil prices. Data released in the eurozone today saw March annual CPI recede to 2.2% as expected while core inflation rose to 1.3% y/y. Inflation remains stubbornly the European Central Bank’s 2.0% ceiling target and even though ECB President Trichet has intimated the markets may be wrong to expect another rate hike in May, most traders anticipate at least a couple more rate hikes in 2006. ECB’s Issing indicated the ECB may need to revise up its inflation forecasts following the recent spike in oil prices. G7 officials convene in Washington, D.C. this weekend and their communiqué will be very important in light of what is happening in the energy and commodities markets. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2415 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥117.90 level and was supported around the ¥117.20 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 61.8% retracement of the move from ¥119.40 to ¥115.50. Data released in Japan overnight saw the March trade surplus fall 11.9% y/y on account of more expensive oil and March convenience store sales were off 2.5% y/y. Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Muto spoke about the inevitable rise in interest rates from near zero per cent saying “We are looking at various economic indicators that are released every month. We have no preconceptions about when to change policy.” An increase in Japanese interest rates could cause the yen to appreciate sharply as it would likely reduce the interest rate differentials between Japan and other key currency areas like the U.S., Europe, and Great Britain. Finance minister Tanigaki said G7 officials meeting this weekend will discuss a possible shift in the flow of funds that a rise in global borrowing costs could effect. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.19% to close at ¥17,317.53. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥117.10/ Y116.45 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥144.95 level and was capped around the ¥145.50 level, a fresh lifetime high. The British pound and Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥209.30 and ¥92.05 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0115 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 8.0135, and at CNY 8.0145 in the exchange-traded market. Chinese President Hu meets with President Bush in Washington, D.C. today but most traders do not expect any significant breakthroughs on currency or trade issues. Data released in China today saw industrial value-added output up 16.7% y/y while Q1 nominal retail sales improved 12.8% y/y. Also, Q1 GDP was up 10.2% y/y and CPI was up 1.2%.


The British pound shed significant ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7790 level and was capped around the US$ 1.7930 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just below the 61.8% retracement of the move from $1.8495 to $1.7045. Sterling plummeted after the release of March inflation data were released to show an annual rate of 1.8%, below forecasts and the lowest print in more than one year. Notably, this rate is now below the Bank of England’s 2.0% target rate and some traders now believe another rate cut may be back on the cards. Other data released today saw March CML mortgage lending up 28% m/m to the highest level for a March on record. The stabilization and growth of the U.K. housing market is an important stability factor for the U.K. economy. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.7880 level. The euro moved higher 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 lost significant ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2790 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2665 level. Stops were hit above the CHF 1.2760 level, representing the 50% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2240 to CHF 1.3285. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2715/ CHF 1.2640 levels. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5740 and CHF 2.2750 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar fell sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$ 0.7385 level and was capped around the $ 0.7470 level. Chartists are eyeing the $0.7375/ 70 levels as the pair’s next downside target. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7420 level.


The Canadian dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1405 level and was supported around the C$ 1.1350 level. Data released in Canadian today saw the March inflation rate up 2.2% y/y, unchanged from February’s level, and was up 0.5% m/m. Ex-energy, CPI was up 1.7% y/y, up from February’s +1.6% y/y level. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1430 level.


The New Zealand dollar came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested bids around the US$ 0.6275 level and was capped around the $0.6355 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 76.4% retracement of the move from US$ 0.5910 to $ 0.7465. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6375 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold came off sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested bids around the US$ 616.20 level and was capped around the $ 645.45 level. Today’s intraday high represented a fresh 25-year high. The usual suspects – including Iran, inflation jitters, Iraq, and others – contributed to the pair’s early gains. A strong pullback during North American dealing coincided with a sharp move higher for the U.S. dollar. Silver fell sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as silver tested bids around the US$ 13.05 level after running testing offers around the $14.73 level.

Crude oil

Crude oil rocketed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude for June delivery tested offers around the $75.48 level and was supported around the $73.75 level. Today’s intraday high represents a continuous contract high but the surge higher in 1979 – if measured in today’s dollars – would be around $87.23. France’s Energy Ministry asked the European Union to publish weekly data much in the same way the U.S. does to help alleviate pressure on prices. U.S. Secretary of State Rice said the global community has “options at its disposal” if diplomacy with Iran fails and Iran yesterday said the price of oil is undervalued in the market.


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