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Friday May 12, 2006 - 14:28:47 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (12 May 2006)

The euro notched strong gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2955 level and was supported around the $1.2830 level. Today’s intraday high was the common currency’s highest level in more than one year and traders are already talking about the psychologically-important US$ 1.3000 figure. Data released in the U.S. today saw the March deficit come in less-than-expected at -US$ 62.0 billion, lower than the anticipated –US$ 67 billion estimate. Other data saw the April import price index print at +2.1% m/m with the ex-oil component unchanged while the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index printed at 79.0, less-than-expected, with the future index lower at 68.0. The dollar immediately recovered from multi-week lows after the number was released and volatile conditions ensued. The common currency was driven to long-time highs as speculation mounted the European Central Bank may lift its main refinancing rate by 50bps to 3.00% next month rather than move +25bps. ECB member Wellink said a half-point move was “very normal.” Likewise, ECB’s Weber added “Underlying inflationary pressures…might gain in strength as an improvement in the euro area economy is assumed for the quarters ahead, and oil prices may be passed through faster in an economic upturn, raising the risk of indirect and second-round effects.” In contrast, many traders believe the Federal Reserve is at or near the very end of its long-term monetary tightening cycle. On Wednesday, the Fed signaled it may not yet be done with rate hikes but also made it clear it may pause its tightening cycle at any time. Some traders believe the Fed will go another +25bps in June while others feel a move could be in order for 8 August. The U.S. dollar index has not been at current levels since April 2005 and if the market becomes preoccupied with the U.S.’s structural imbalances and deficits along with narrowing U.S. – European interest rate differentials, the move could become exacerbated. News that China’s trade surplus doubled year-over-year last month came two days after China was not labeled a currency manipulator by the Bush administration and highlights the dollar’s fragile state. The U.S. April consumer price index will be released next week and a lower-than-expected number could pressure the greenback more. Data released in Germany today saw April final CPU up 0.4% m/m and up 2.0% y/y and EMU-12 harmonized inflation jumped to 2.4% last month, a twelve-month high. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.3045 level.
¥/ CNY

The yen scored major gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥109.30 level and was capped around the ¥110.70 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 61.8% retracement value of the move from ¥101.65 to ¥121.40. Finance minister Tanigaki verbally intervened overnight saying big exchange rate moves “could have adverse affects on corporate profitability” while Economy minister Yosano said there are positive and negative aspects to a stronger yen. Data released in Japan saw the economy watchers’ index recede in April for the first time in three months with the current conditions index off 2.7 points to 54.6. Even though the dollar is at or below the psychologically-important ¥110.00 figure, most traders believe the government will not intervene anytime soon because they failed to do so when the pair was several big figures lower a couple of years ago. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 1.54% to close at ¥16,601.78. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥106.35 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥141.15 level and was capped around the ¥142.10 level. The British pound came off vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥207.15 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥91.35 level. The Chinese yuan weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0061 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 8.0041, and at CNY 8.0054 in the exchange-traded market. The IMF called on China to adopt a more flexible exchange rate to support the economy. Data released in China overnight saw the April trade surplus print at US$ 10.46 billion, down from US$ 11.19 billion in March but more than double the level one year ago. Also, April CPI was up 1.2% y/y.

The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8995 level and was supported around the $1.8815 level. Stops were hit above the $1.8960 level, representing the 76.4% retracement of the move from $1.9550 to $1.7050. NIESR today said Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee should lift interest rates to deal with mounting cost pressures. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.9030/ 35 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6800 figure and was capped around the ₤0.6830 level.


The Swiss franc made strong gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1960 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2140 level. Stops were hit below the CHF 1.1990 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from CHF 1.4270 to CHF 1.1285. The Swiss franc was the biggest gained on account of mounting risk aversion. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.1760 level. The euro and British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5485 and CHF 2.2715 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7790 level and was supported around the $ 0.7740 level. Data released in Australia saw March housing finance rise 0.7% m/m. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7985 level.


The Canadian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.0990 level and was capped around the $1.1060 level. Today’s intraday low represented a fresh multi-decade low for the pair. Dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1160 level.


The New Zealand dollar moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested bids around the US$ 0.6250 level and was capped around the $ 0.6330 level. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6375 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 730.35 level and was supported around the $ 712.75 level. Today’s high represents a fresh 26-year peak for the pair and these gains followed widespread selling pressure for the U.S. dollar. Platinum also reached another record high vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar, up at $1,333. Silver moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested bids around the US$ 14.51 level and was capped around the $15.10 level.

Crude oil

Crude oil extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude futures for June delivery tested offers around the US$ 73.33 level and was supported around the $72.33 level. The IEA trimmed global oil demand estimates to 1.25 million bpd from 1.47 million bpd for 2006. Also, Iran’s president indicated there may be some room to negotiate the current nuclear stalemate involving his country. Nigerian militants, however, threatened to destroy a US$ 13 billion natural has export plant.


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