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Wednesday May 3, 2006 - 12:57:20 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (3 May 2006)

The euro gained modest ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2670 level and was supported around the $1.2605 level. Today’s intraday high was above yesterday’s daily high and chartists are eager to see if the common currency can close above the $1.2650 level, representing the 50% retracement of the move from $1.3665 to $1.1640. Traders await comments from Fed Chairman Bernanke today, especially after his putative remarks this past weekend were reported by CNBC this week and created a firestorm. Bernanke is unlikely to say anything controversial today, especially considering the Federal Open Market Committee convenes next week to deliberate monetary policy. The market is discounting about a 100% chance the FOMC will lift the federal funds target rate by 25bps to 5.00% on 10 May, and about a 71% chance the target rate will be at 5.25% at the end of the June FOMC meeting. Data to be released in the U.S. today include March factory orders, the April ISM non-manufacturing index, and weekly EIA crude oil stocks data. Cleveland Fed President Pianalto spoke yesterday and said the U.S.’s current account deficit “cannot keep growing indefinitely” and intimated the dollar may need to decline in value. The big news in the U.S. this week will be Friday’s April non-farm payrolls report that is expected to evidence strong job creation last month. In eurozone news, EMU-12 March PPI was up 0.4% m/m and up 5.1% y/y, around forecast, while EMU-12 March unemployment receded to 8.1% from 8.2% in February. Notably, this is the lowest unemployment rate in the eurozone since April 2002. European Central Bank’s Governing Council convenes tomorrow and most traders do not expect a move higher in rates. Stronger recent EMU-12 economic data and hawkish remarks from ECB policymakers, however, cannot be overlooked and a change in policy would not be a total surprise. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2775 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥113.60 level and was supported around the ¥112.90 level. Liquidity was reduced today on account of the Golden Week holiday in Japan and continued holidays in China. The pair moved to intraday lows during the European session but quickly bounced back. The big news in Asian trading today was the move by the South Korean won to its strongest level in more than eight years, around 934.30 to the U.S. dollar. Activity in the won may presage stronger moves by Asian currencies following the Group of Seven’s recent communiqué in which global imbalances received attention, spotlighting the need for Asian currencies to appreciate. Liquidity conditions will return to normal in Japan and Asia on Monday. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥112.30/ ¥111.50 levels. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥143.50 level and was supported around the ¥142.80 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥137.20 to ¥145.50. The British pound and Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥208.85 and ¥91.85 levels, respectively. In Chinese news, the financial markets will reopen on Monday.


The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8350 level and was capped around the $1.8475 level. The pair came off after weaker U.K. economic data were released today. First, it was reported that April construction PMI fell to 53.7 from March’s 54.7 level, albeit still evidence of a growing sector. Second, BRC’s April shop price index saw overall prices down 1.28% y/y, the lowest inflation rate since January 2005 and more than March’s 1.17% decline. This means prices have now declined for seven consecutive months. Third, Nationwide reported its consumer confidence index was off two index points to 93 in April and offer fourteen index points in one year. Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee convenes tomorrow and is not expected to change policy at this time. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.8535 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6880 level and was supported around the ₤0.6850 level.


The Swiss franc gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2295 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2380 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was just above the 50% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1285 to CHF 1.3285. Swiss National Bank President Roth spoke about the franc today saying “The Swiss export industry should always remember that there are risks when it comes to foreign currencies. In my opinion they should cover their positions well. Volatility between the euro and the Swiss franc is low. That is good for the Swiss economy. But exporters might believe that this will stay the case in the long term…They shouldn't forget that foreign currency developments are full of uncertainty." Turning to interest rates, Roth added more “normalization” will take place. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2050 level. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.5635 and CHF 2.2770 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7710 level and was supported around the $0.7600 figure. The pair gained strong ground after Reserve Bank of Australia raised its official cash rate by 25bps to 5.75%. Some traders expected RBA to keep borrowing rates unchanged and the central bank did not signal whether it expects to raise interest rates any further. RBA’s Statement of Monetary Policy will be released on Friday. Australian Treasurer Costello said he expects the rate hike to slow the economy. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7755 level.


The Canadian dollar came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1080 level and was supported around the C$ 1.1010 level. March building permits data will be released tomorrow and April employment data will be released on Friday. Today’s intraday low represented a fresh, multi-decade low. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the US$ 1.1135 level.


The New Zealand dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6445 level and was supported around the $0.6380 level. The April ANZ commodity price index will be released tomorrow. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6495 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 676.55 level and was supported around the $ 667.60 level. Today’s intraday high represented a fresh 25-year high as traders pushed the pair higher on account of stronger oil prices, the weaker dollar, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Platinum also reached a record-high today. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested offers around the US$ 14.54 level and were supported around the $ 14.30 level.

Crude oil

Crude oil came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude futures for June delivery tested bids around the US$ 74.46 level and was capped around the $74.94 level. Crude inventories data in the U.S. will be released in the U.S. today and are expected to show gasoline supplies declined last week for the ninth consecutive week. Iran yesterday said it will attack Israel if it is attacked by the U.S. and reported the discovery of new uranium deposits at three sites. One risk that traders are monitoring is the possibility that Iran could reduce oil exports. Iran currently exports some 2.5 million barrels per day from its total daily production of 4.0 million barrels.


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