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Wednesday May 17, 2006 - 14:47:08 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (17 May 2006)



The euro failed to sustain intraday gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2835 level and was capped around the $1.2920 level. The common currency backtracked after April consumer price inflation data were released that saw a headline gain of +0.6% while core CPI was up +0.3%, both hotter-than-expected. On an annualized basis, headline and cope CPI were up 3.5% y/y and 2.3% y/y and it is worth noting that the data series high was about 2.4% in February 2005. These data suggest post-factory price pressures in the U.S. economy as measured by CPI are elevated and could be above the Federal Reserve’s perceived comfort zone. Albeit the Fed prefers core consumer price expenditures as a measure of inflation, these data suggest policymakers may be forced to lift interest rates again at the end of June. The Federal Open Market Committee reiterated last week that it remains in a wait-and-see stance with regard to incoming economic data and the possible continuation of monetary tightening. Fed officials are meeting in Georgia at a hedge fund conference this week and traders are alert for any comments they may make about the economy. In eurozone news, EMU-12 harmonized inflation was up 2.4% y/y, unchanged from provisional estimates and above March’s 2.2% level while the core rate accelerated to 1.5%. Some traders continue to speculate the European Central Bank will lift interest rates by +50bps next month while others only see a +25bps hike. In other EU news, the European Commission noted Slovenia is ready to join the euro from 1 January 2007 but there is no indication if this will happen then despite European Central Bank’s agreement that Slovenia has met all of the main convergence criteria for accession. Euro offers are cited around the US$ 1.2890/ 1.3045 levels.


¥/ CNY

The yen extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥109.00 figure and was capped around the ¥109.80 level. Stops were hit below the ¥109.20 level, representing the 61.8% retracement of the move from ¥101.65 to ¥121.40. The pair moved higher after European Central Bank member Noyer said additional currency flexibility is desirable in Asia, reiterating a similar recent call from the Group of Seven. The pair last traded as these levels in early September and chartists are eyeing downside targets such as ¥108.75/ 15. Data released in Japan overnight saw March industrial output climb 0.2% m/m while April corporate bankruptcies were off 13.3% y/y. Also, Tokyo-area April condominium sales were down 2.5% y/y. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.92% to close at ¥16,307.67. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥106.55 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥140.50 level and was capped around the ¥141.15 level. The British pound and Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥206.40 and ¥90.55 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 8.0025 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 8.0030, and at CNY 8.0015 in the exchange-traded market. Data released in China today saw January – April industrial value-added output up 16.7% y/y.



The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9025 level and was supported around the $1.8850 level. Sterling has not been this strong since May 2005 and the impetus for today’s move higher was a split, three-way interest rate vote at the May Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting. MPC’s Walton voted for a rate hike while outgoing MPC member Nickell continued to vote for monetary easings. Nickell leaves the MPC this month and the implied bias is for a less dovish MPC. This is the first three-way vote at the MPC since August 1998. Many traders believe the MPC could hike rates as early as August. The pair shrugged off weaker-than-expected U.K. labour market released today that saw April jobless claims rise 7,700 to 945,500 while the claimant count of unemployment was unchanged at 3.0%. Notably, the number of people seeking jobs has increased in thirteen of the fourteen previous months, the longest stretch of increases since 1992. Cable offers are cited around the US$ 1.9215 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6785 level and was capped around the ₤0.6815 level.

CHF

The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2090 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2005 level. Technically, the pair continues to orbit the CHF 1.2050 level, representing the 61.8% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1285 to CHF 1.3285. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.1760 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the pair tested bids around the CHF 1.5500 figure while the British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 2.2855 level.


AUD

The Australian dollar gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7725 level and was supported around the $0.7660 level. Data released in Australia today saw the Q1 wage cost index rise 0.9% q/q and 4.0% y/y. Australian dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.7755 level.

CAD

The Canadian dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.1010 level and was capped around the C$ 1.1080 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 50% retracement of the move from C$ 1.0975 – C$ 1.1175. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1100/ 1.1130 levels.

NZD

The New Zealand dollar came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as kiwi tested bids around the US$ 0.6240 level and was capped around the US$0.6295 level. Technically, the pair stopped just short of testing the 23.6% retracement of the move from $0.7000 to $0.5990. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6375 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 716.30 level and was supported around $685.30 level. Inflation jitters in the U.S. and Europe contributed to the pair’s gains as did a report from Johnson Matthey that platinum demand should outpace supply in 2006. Silver moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested bids around the $ 13.30 level and was capped around the $14.08 level.

Crude oil

Crude oil moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude futures for June delivery tested bids around the US$ 68.60 level and was capped around the $70.06 level. OPEC reduced its forecast today for global oil demand in 2006 by 60,000 barrels per day. Traders await weekly U.S. inventories data today.

 

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