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Friday May 5, 2006 - 13:14:20 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (5 May 2006)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2755 level and was supported around the $1.2675 level. Trading conditions were thin ahead of the U.S.’s April non-farm payrolls report that saw jobs growth of +138,000 last month, much less-than-expected. The unemployment rate printed at an unchanged 4.7% and average hourly earnings printed at +3.8%. The March non-farm payroll tally was downwardly revised from 211,000 to 200,000. Many traders expressed surprise with today’s non-farm payroll report because recent U.S. economic data have been relatively strong and some economists are already talking about a revision to this month’s number. The focus next week will be the Federal Open Market Committee meeting in which policymakers are expected to lift the federal funds target rate by +25bps to 5.00%. The big news yesterday involved comments made by European Central Bank President Trichet who indicated rate hikes in June and beyond are probable if the eurozone continues its economic recovery. Trichet also pledged continued “vigilance” on the inflation front and reiterated current EMU-12 monetary policy remains “accommodative,” pledging “withdrawal of monetary accommodation.” Notably, European interest rate futures are now pricing in about a 40% chance the ECB will tighten policy by 50bps rather than the customary +25bps rate hike. Regarding currencies, Trichet characterized the euro’s recent appreciation as “smooth and orderly” and this potentially opens the door for additional gains by the common currency. ECB’s Issing spoke and said the ECB should not necessarily be implementing a “more aggressive stabilization policy.” Issing also said the ECB should not raise its inflation goal and called the eurozone’s low growth rate “more relevant than ever.” Bundesbank’s Weber said the ECB’s economic forecasts will be derived from the market’s expectations for interest rates. Additionally, “Eurogroup” president Juncker said Ecofin finance ministers “have seen that there are a number of economic aggregates” that support the case for additional monetary tightening. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2775 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥113.25 figure and was capped around the ¥114.00 level. Technically, the pair continues to hover around the ¥113.85/90 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥118.85 to ¥112.30. Liquidity was muted during the Australasian session on account of the Golden Week holiday in Japan and week-long Chinese holiday. Trading conditions will return to normal next week. Traders remain alert for any additional verbal intervention from MoF officials following recent comments that expressed concern with the sudden appreciation of the yen. Additionally, dealers are curious to see if Japanese officials continue to insist the market’s interpretation of the recent G7 statement was wrong insofar as it led to broad-based dollar weakness. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥112.90 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥144.70 level and was supported around the ¥144.05 level. Stops were hit above the ¥144.45 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥145.50 to ¥141.45. The British pound and Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥211.00 and ¥92.65 levels, respectively. In Chiense news, Xinhua reported China’s 2005 current account surplus at US$ 160.8 billion, up 134%, while its capital and financial account surplus was off 43% to US$ 63 billion.

The British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8595 level and was capped around the $1.8475 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 76.4% retracement of the move from $2.0035 to $1.3680. There was no major markets news out in the U.K. today and traders instead focused on the resounding electoral losses of Prime Minister Blair’s Labour Party in regional polls yesterday. U.K. Tories picked up a sizable amount of seats and traders are curious to see if this will impact the market. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.8595 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6865 level and was supported around the ₤0.6850 level.


The Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2215 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2315 level. Swiss National Bank President Blattner spoke today and said interest rates will continue to rise “gradually,” adding current policy “remains expansive and supports the upswing.” He added growth is “robust and broad-bases” and said there is “no risk to price stability.” SNB President Roth this week said the market is correct to believe the central bank will continue to tighten policy. U.S. dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2185 level. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5580 and CHF 2.2700 figures, respectively.


The Australian dollar came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$ 0.7675 level and was capped around the $0.7725 level. Reserve Bank of Australia released its monetary policy statement today sand said the Australian economy continued to benefit from favourable international conditions and noted this requires vigilance on the inflation front. RBA raised rates by 25bps on Wednesday to 5.75% and noted CPI was up 3.0% y/y. Data released in Australia today saw March building approvals up 2.2% m/m and down 1.7% y/y. Also, the March trade deficit printed at -A$ 1.545 billion, worse than February’s –A$ 415 million deficit. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7755 level.


The Canadian dollar was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1110 level and was supported around the C$ 1.1055 level. Data to be released in Canada today include April employment totals. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1135/ 1.1210 levels.


The New Zealand dollar gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6430 level and was supported around the $0.6380 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from $0.7000 to $0.5990. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 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$ 684.45 level and was supported around the $ 676.40 level. The pair moved after higher after the release of the weaker-than-expected April U.S. non-farm payrolls report. Jitters over gold, Middle East tensions, and the global inflation picture contributed to gold’s gains. Silver came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested bids around the $13.87 level and was capped around the $14.14 level.

Crude oil

Crude oil was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude futures for June delivery tested offers around the US$ 70.69 level and was supported around the $ 69.76 level. Oil prices are off nearly US$ 5.00 in two days after it was confirmed that U.S. gasoline supplies increased for the first time in two months. All eyes are on the United Nations Security Council to see what measures the U.K., Great Britain, and France are able to threaten Iran with if it does not agree to curtail its nuclear ambitions. Russia and China are currently misaligned with other Security Council members regarding the Iranian issue. Traders are also watching oil-related issues in Nigeria, Ecuador, and Bolivia.


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