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Friday April 28, 2006 - 12:52:08 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (28 April 2006)

The euro was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2565 level and was supported around the $ 1.2520 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 50% retracement of the move from $1.3480 to $1.1640. Chartists are also eyeing the $1.2650 level, representing the 50% retracement of the move from $1.3665 to $1.1640. The common currency’s move to multi-month highs yesterday followed comments from Fed Chairman Bernanke who said “There is…the possibility that if there is sufficient uncertainty, that we may choose to pause (in lifting interest rates), simply to gain more information to learn better what the true risks are and how the economy is actually evolving. Of course, a decision to take no action at a particular meeting does not preclude action at subsequent meetings. In particular, even if in the committee's judgment the risks to its objectives are not entirely balanced, at some point in the future the committee may decide to take no action at one or more meetings in the interest of allowing more time to receive information relevant to the outlook.” Traders reacted by scaling back their expectations for a monetary tightening at the June Federal Open Market Committee meeting though many dealers continue to expect a +25bps move higher in rates at the 10 May FOMC meeting. Data released in the U.S. today saw the Q1 employment cost index print at +0.6%, below expectations and below the previous reading of 0.9%. Also, Q1 GDP printed at a healthy 4.8% and personal consumption was up 5.5%. The market sold the dollar after the release of these data because it implies less inflation related to employment costs and may mean less pressure on the Fed to hike rates. Data to be released later in the day include the April University of Michigan consumer sentiment index and April Chicago PMI survey. In eurozone news, Germany lifted its 2006 GDP growth forecast to 1.6% from 1.4%, considerably higher than the 2005 growth rate of 0.9%. This follows a similar upward revision from Germany’s six leading research institutes to 1.8% from 1.2%. The French April consumer confidence indicator printed at -27 from -26 in March. Also, provisional EMU-12 harmonized inflation came in at 2.4% from 2.2% in March while the EMU-12 April economic sentiment indicator printed at 105.3, its highest level since mid-2001. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2650/ 1.2750 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥114.45 level and was supported around the ¥114.00 figure. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from ¥135.15 to ¥101.65. Bank of Japan’s Policy Board voted to keep monetary policy unchanged and upped its growth forecast to 2.4% from 1.8% for the year ending in March 2007. BoJ also announced it expects prices to rise 0.6% in the year to March 2007 and 0.8% in the year to March 2008. Regarding monetary policy, the central bank added “it seems probable that the accommodative financial conditions ensuing from very low interest rates will be maintained for some time following a period in which the uncollateralized overnight call rate is at effectively zero per cent. Through and beyond this stage, the Bank of Japan will adjust the level of interest rates gradually in the light of developments in economic activity and prices.” Along these lines, BoJ Governor Fukui added the central bank is “not in a hurry” to tighten policy. Data released in Japan overnight saw real GDP expand 1.3% q/q in the October – December period, around an annualized rate of 5.4%. Also, March housing starts were up 3.3% y/y, the second consecutive monthly increase, while March industrial output was up 0.2% m/m. Additionally, March retail sales climbed 1.0% y/y and March orders received by the 50 largest contractors were off 15.7% y/y. Moreover, the March unemployment rate printed at 4.1%, unchanged from February, a multi-year low, while inflation was up last month for the fifth consecutive month. Japanese markets will be closed from Wednesday next week. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 1.22% to close at ¥16,906.23. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥112.25 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥143.45 level and was supported around the ¥142.85 level. The British pound and Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥206.45 and ¥91.35 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0140 in over-the-counter trading, down from CNY 8.0161, and at CNY 8.0123 in the exchange-traded market. People’s Bank of China announced that yesterday’s interest rate hike “would maintain reasonable credit and investment growth as well as a stable monetary environment.” Chinese markets will be closed next week. PBOC Governor Zhou called China’s economy “a bit hot” today.


The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8095 level and was supported around the $1.8000 figure. Stops were hit later in yesterday’s session above the $1.8005 level, representing the 38.2% retracement of the move from $1.9550 to $1.7045. Data released in the U.K. today saw the April GfK consumer confidence index improve to -4 from -7 in March. NIESR today said there is a “strong case” for Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to move rates higher next week to counter rising inflation expectations. The markets are not anticipating a rate hike by the MPC at this time, with most policymakers continuing to vote for no change in rates month-after-month. The MPC’s rate decision is expected on Thursday. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.8165 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6930 level and was capped around the ₤0.6960 level.


The Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2485 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2610 level. Stops were reached below the CHF 1.2520 level, representing the 38.2% retracement from CHF 1.1285 to CHF 1.3285. Swiss National Bank President Roth said “The inflation forecast we published in March clearly indicates that the current interest rate level is incompatible with long-term price stability” and added the central bank will “continue to implement the strategy of monetary normalization pursued since June 2004.” Talking about exchange rates, Roth added there has been a “strong convergence of fundamentals in Switzerland and the euro area” and noted that if the Swiss franc’s recent decline continues, “…a normalization of interest rates would become even more essential.” Data released in Switzerland today saw the April KOF leading indicator print at 2.03, up from March’s 1.90 and February’s 1.75 level. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2285 level. The euro and British pound weakened vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5690 and CHF 2.2570 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar moved marginally lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$ 0.7535 level and was capped around the $ 0.7570 level. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7615 level.


The Canadian dollar came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1250 level and was supported around the C$ 1.1215 level. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1395 level.


The New Zealand dollar was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6340 level and was supported around the $0.6315 level. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6375 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 640.05 level and was supported around the $633.95 level. The lower-than-expected U.S. Q1 employment cost index saw the pair move to intraday highs. Silver ran higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested offers around the US$ 12.82 level and was supported around the $ 12.49 level.

Crude oil

Crude oil gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude futures for June delivery tested offers around the US$ 71.04 level and was supported around the $ 70.48 level. People’s Bank of China’s decision to tighten monetary policy yesterday could reduce demand for oil in that country and crude came off on that news. All eyes are on the United Nations Security Council today where the IAEA will deliver a report about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The U.S. Senate yesterday approved legislation that would allow the U.S. to sue OPEC for price fixing activities.


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