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Friday December 15, 2006 - 15:58:48 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (15 December 2006)

The euro depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3075 level and was capped around the $1.3185 level. Trading became quite volatile during the North American session after the release of mixed U.S. economic data. The common currency rose to intraday highs, representing the 76.4% retracement of the move from $1.3665 to $1.1640, after U.S. November consumer prices were reported unchanged m/m and below forecasts. Core consumer prices excluding food and energy were also flat and these data have many traders speculating the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates next year. Core inflation was up 2.6% y/y, still above the Fed’s perceived 1% - 2% comfort zone. These data were tempered by November industrial production data that saw output improve for the first time since August, up 0.2%, while capacity utilization came in at 81.8%, unchanged from October’s downwardly revised figure. Over the past year, industrial production and capacity utilization are up 3.8% y/y and 1.1% y/y, respectively. Additional data released today saw October Treasury International Capital net inflows rise to US$ 62.2 billion, up from September’s level of US$ 57.8 billion and more than enough to cover October’s trade deficit of –US$ 58.87 billion. In eurozone news, November harmonized EMU-12 consumer prices expanded 1.9% y/y, marginally more-than-expected, while October industrial output was off 0.1% m/m and up 3.6% y/y. European Central Bank member Weber reaffirmed the ECB’s political independence today saying policymakers would not postpone additional monetary tightening to appease French politicians. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3025/ 1.2925 levels.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥117.50 level and was capped around the ¥118.30 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 50% retracement of the move from ¥135.15 to ¥101.65. Data released in Japan overnight saw Bank of Japan’s December quarterly tankan survey improve about as much as expected with the headline sentiment index among large manufacturers at +25, a two-year high and up from September’s tally of +24. Business sentiment among non-manufacturers improved to +22 from +20 in December, the highest level since November 1991. The “all industries” capital expenditures index is now expected to rise 10.5% in the year to March 2007, up from September’s forecast of 8.3%. Most traders continue to believe Bank of Japan’s Policy Board will not increase interest rates when policymakers convene next week. Instead, the overnight call rate is expected to be raised in Q1 2007. Other data released today saw the October tertiary index up 2.1% m/m while the revised October leading index printed at 54.5, up from 50.0. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.51% to close at ¥16,914.31. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥116.75 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥154.35 level and was capped around the ¥155.50 level. The British pound and Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested bids around the ¥230.25 and ¥96.50 levels, respectively. In Chinese news, the Chinese yuan’s central party rate was set at a new post-July 2005 revaluation high of 7.8185 vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar, down from CNY 7.8197. U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson is in China and called on China to open its capital markets further, reiterating flexibility in exchange rates is very important for the U.S. China reported it will continue to make its exchange rate mechanism more flexible. People’s Bank of China policymaker Fan Gang reported “Modest yuan appreciation will not only prevent big fluctuations in the economy but also help to crack down on speculative funds. I agree with China's current exchange rate level and the modest appreciation under a managed floating mechanism.” Fed Chairman Bernanke is also in China and urged China to narrow its trade surpluses and promote an increase in household consumption.” Data released in China overnight foreign direct investment up 2.14% y/y in the January – November period while the November property climate index also improved.

The British pound extended its recent pullback vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9505 level and was capped around the $1.9665 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 50% retracement of the move from $1.9845 to $1.9465. No major U.K. economic data were released today. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9460 level. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6710 level and was supported around the ₤0.6690 level.


The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2230 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2115 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just above the 38.2% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2770 to CHF 1.1875. Data released in Switzerland today saw October retail sales climb 0.6% y/y. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2285/ 1.2325 levels. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.6000 and CHF 2.3870 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7845 level and was supported around the $0.7790 level. Stops were hit below the $0.7810 level, right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from $0.7415 to $0.7930. Data released in Australia today saw November consumer prices climb 1.6% y/y. Australian dollar bids are cited around the $0.7735 level.


The Canadian dollar appreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.1525 level and was capped around the C$ 1.1585 level. Today’s intraday high is the pair’s strongest print since April of this year. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1615 level.


The New Zealand dollar gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6920 level and was supported around the $0.6865 level. New Zealand dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.6805 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested bids around the US$ 622.80 level and was capped around the $ 629.15 level. The U.S. dollar’s surge higher today contributed to gold’s weaker showing. Silver came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested bids around the US$ 13.57 level and was capped around the $13.83 level.

Crude Oil

Crude oil moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude oil futures for January delivery tested offers around the US$ 63.83 level and was supported around the $63.12 level. The pair continues to add to yesterday’s gains following OPEC’s decision to cut output in February by about 500,000 barrels per day.


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