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Wednesday August 16, 2006 - 14:57:02 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (16 August 2006)

The euro gained further ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2865 level and was supported around the $1.2770 level. The intraday range was thin before the release of U.S. economic data that saw the pair move considerably higher. First, it was reported that consumer inflation accelerated last month with the consumer price index up 0.4% m/m and 4.1% y/y, up from June’s +0.2% climb. Energy costs were up 2.9% in July, the largest increase in three months. The ex-food and energy core component was up +0.2%, below expectations and unchanged from June’s tally, and were up +2.7% y/y, the sharpest pace since December 2001. Dealers reacted to these data by reducing exposure to the dollar as traders priced in less of a chance the Federal Reserve will lift interest rates next month. Other data released today saw July housing starts decline 2.5% to 1.795 million units, the slowest pace since May 2003. These data are important because they confirm the U.S. housing market continues to slow and many economists see the housing market as the single largest potential risk factor in the U.S. economy. Some believe the U.S. economy will be beset by a recession that will start with a significant pullback in the U.S. housing market. Other data released today saw July industrial production climb +0.4% while the capacity utilization reading printed at +82.4%, the highest level since June 2000. The feds funds future market is now pricing in about a 30% chance the Fed will lift the federal funds target rate by +25bps on 20 September. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2775/ 40 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥115.65 level and was capped around the ¥116.35 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 61.8% retracement of the move from ¥117.85 to ¥113.95. Minutes from Bank of Japan’s Policy Board meeting from 13-14 July were released overnight and they evidenced a unanimous vote to keep interest rates unchanged. Notably, some policymakers suggested the BoJ needs to avoid the impression that it is “rushing” to raise interest rates. Data released in Japan overnight saw the June leading index revised to 54.5 from 50.0. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.61% to close at ¥16,071.36. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥115.45/ 114.90 levels. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥148.85 level and was supported around the ¥148.20 level. The British pound and Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥220.10 and ¥94.35 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.9885 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 8.0015, and at CNY 7.9901 in the exchange-traded market. Data released overnight saw January – July urban fixed-asset investment climb 30.5% while a People’s Bank of China report suggests July’s CPI reading is not representative of China’s full inflation picture.

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9020 level and was supported around the $1.8880 level. Sterling edged lower after minutes from Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting from July were released and they evidenced a six-to-one vote to raise the headline repo rate by +0.25% to 4.75%. New MPC member Blanchflower voted to keep borrowing costs unchanged on account of the softening labour market. Along those lines, data released in the U.K. today saw ILO unemployment in Q2 reach its highest level in more than six years, up 92,000 to 1.677 million with the unemployment rate up to 5.5%. Overall, the tone of the MPC’s minutes suggested BoE policymakers are in no hurry to raise rates further. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.8920 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6770 level and was supported around the ₤0.6750 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2255 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2380 level. Stops were reached below the CHF 1.2285 level, representing the 50% retracement of the move from CHF 1.1285 to CHF 1.3285. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2395 level. The euro and British pound came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested bids around the CHF 1.5765 and CHF 2.3310 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7695 level and was supported around the $ 0.7625 level. Chartists are eyeing the $0.7700/ 55 levels as the pair’s next upside targets. Data released in Australia today saw the Westpac-Melbourne Institute’s consumer confidence index decline 16.2% m/m to 90.0 in August, the second largest drop since 1975 and the lowest level since March 2001. Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.7615 level.


The Canadian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.1140 level and was capped around the C$ 1.1240 level. Data released in Canada today saw June factory shipments climb 1.9% m/m to their highest level since January. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1190/ 1.1255 levels.


The New Zealand dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6425 level and was supported around the $0.6340 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from $0.7195 to $0.5925. New Zealand dollar offers are cited around the US$ 0.6505 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold jumped higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 632.10 level and was supported around the $623.70 level. The spot price leapt after it was reported that hedging activity added about 159 tons of demand to the world gold market in Q2. Traders are also reporting rumours that central banks may be selling gold but there is no confirmation of this. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested offers around the $12.39 level and was supported around the $12.05 level.

Crude Oil

Crude oil moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude oil futures for September delivery tested bids around the US$ 72.09 level and were capped around the $73.12 level. News that Israeli troops began their exit from southern Lebanon yesterday has traders selling crude as the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah reached its third day. Traders await the release of weekly crude and gasoline inventories data today.


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