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Thursday January 11, 2007 - 15:07:40 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (11 January 2007)

The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2925 level and was capped around the $1.3015 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 50% retracement of the move from $1.2480 to $1.3360. As expected, the European Central Bank kept its main refinancing rate unchanged at 3.5%. The markets have fully priced in a +25bps hike by the ECB in Q1 and there is only about a 30% chance price in that the ECB will do so by next month, leaving March as the most likely month for a move. ECB President Trichet did not include the word “vigilance” in describing the central bank’s commitment to fighting inflation risks and the common currency sold off on this exclusion. Trichet said the ECB will act in a “firm and timely manner to ensure price stability in the medium term.” In other eurozone news, United Arab Emirates central bank chief al-Suweidi indicated some Gulf Arab central banks may agree in March to change their currency pegs to the U.S. dollar and reiterated his central bank plans to swap about another 7% of its US$ 27 billion in foreign reserves into euros by the end of Q3. Data released in the eurozone today saw Q3 GDP climb 0.5% q/q and 2.7% y/y. Also, the European Commission kept its forecast for Q4 GDP growth unchanged in the range of 0.3% to 0.7%. Germany reported that its GDP growth reached 2.5% last year, the largest increase since 2000 and up from 0.9% in 2005. In U.S. news, Chicago Fed President Moskow yesterday reported “Recent price data have been consistent with some easing in core inflation” but said risks to inflation remain his “predominant concern.” Moskow added “the key going forward is whether that trend (of lower inflation) can be sustained and how quickly inflation will move back to the range that is commensurate with price stability.” Moskow’s comments follow remarks from Fed Vice Chairman Kohn earlier in the week and these represent early statements in which Fed officials are cautiously acknowledging that inflation is receding but also noting the Fed will not be complacent if inflation continues. Data released in the U.S. today saw weekly initial jobless claims fall to their lowest level in nearly six months, off 26,000 to 299,000, with continuing jobless claims off marginally to 2.43 million. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2885 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥120.40 level and was supported around the ¥119.50 level. Today’s intraday high represents the pair’s strongest showing since December 2005 and opens up the ¥121.40 level as the pair’s next upside target. Traders scaled back expectations of a rate hike next week by Bank of Japan’s Policy Board. Some traders believe the BoJ will lift the overnight call rate from +0.25% next week while others see a move taking place before the end of the fiscal year in March. Vice finance minister Fujii verbally intervened overnight saying “disorderly moves in the currency market are undesirable.” The yen remains a funding currency for carry trades in which traders borrow in yen and invest the proceeds in other higher-yielding currencies. A rate hike by the central bank would unwind some of those trades and lead to yen appreciation. Data released in Japan today saw the November leading index print at 20, down from 54.5 in October, while the coincident index receded to 50 from 75. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.62% to close at ¥16,838.17. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥119.20 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥156.30 level and was supported around the ¥154.65 level. The British pound and Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥234.80 and ¥96.85 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.7949 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.8071.

The British pound rocketed higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9535 level and was supported around the $1.9315 level. Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee shocked the markets with a +25bps interest rate hike to 5.25%, its highest level since August 2001. The MPC noted “Domestic demand has grown steadily and credit and broad money growth remain rapid. The international economy continues to grow strongly” and added spare capacity in the U.K. economy appears to be limited. Most traders expected BoE to lift interest rates next month and today’s move was a major surprise. Data released in the U.K. yesterday saw the BRC December shop price index rise 1.8% m/m and 2.3% y/y, the highest rise since March 2004. Data released today saw the manufacturing output rise 0.3% m/m in November while manufacturing output gained 0.5% m/m. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9340 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6640 level and were capped around the ₤0.6705 level.


The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2480 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2410 level. Swiss National Bank Chairman Roth today indicated the central bank’s interest rate normalization phase has not yet been completed. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2520/ 80 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.6105 level while the British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 2.4295 level.


The Australian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.7840 level and was supported around the $0.7770 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from $0.7615 to $0.7980. Data released in Australia overnight saw the December unemployment rate remain unchanged at 4.6%, below forecast. Many traders believe Reserve Bank of Australia will lift interest rates by +25bps to 6.25% in early February. Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.7795/ 55 levels.


The Canadian dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1800 figure and was supported around the C$ 1.1685 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right about the 61.8% retracement of the pair’s 2007 range. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1830 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 616.05 level and was supported around the $609.10 level. A volatile day in the currency markets led to the pair’s gains, as did continued talk of physical demand. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested offers around the US$ 12.55 level and was supported around the $12.34 level.

Crude Oil

Crude oil extended its recent pullback vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude oil futures for February delivery tested bids around the US$ 52.94 level and were capped around the $54.04 level. United Arab Emirates Oil Minister al-Hamili said OPEC is concerned with the recent decline in prices and has not decided whether or not it will convene an extraordinary meeting to discuss the topic. At its December meeting, OPEC announced it will reduce output by 500,000 barrels per day from 1 February.


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