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Tuesday February 20, 2007 - 16:40:55 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (20 February 2007)

The euro shed ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3130 level and was capped around the $1.3190 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 76.4% retracement of the move from $1.3665 to $1.1640. There has been little to alter the market’s view that the European Central Bank will tighten monetary policy next month. Data released in the U.S. today saw the Chicago Fed national activity index print at -0.74 last month, down from +0.36 in December. Chicago Fed President Moskow on Friday said “some additional firming of policy may yet be necessary to address this inflation risk” and Fed Governor Bies’s comments later today will be closely scrutinized, as will tomorrow’s January CPI data and Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes. In eurozone news, the Belgian consumer confidence indicator improved to +1 in February from -1 in January. Also, French GDP expanded 0.6% q/q in Q4 and was up 2.0% in 2006. German GDP data will be released on Thursday. Data released in Germany today saw the January producer price index flat m/m and up 3.2% y/y. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3045 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥120.30 level and was supported around the ¥119.55 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 61.8% retracement of the move from ¥118.00 to ¥122.15. Traders are split as to whether Bank of Japan will lift interest rates overnight and if so, by how much. Many traders believe that even if BoJ lifts borrowing costs overnight – perhaps by as much as +25bps to 0.50% - the yen will still be vulnerable on account of its sizable negative interest rate differential vis-à-vis other currencies. A rate hike will likely coincide with a comment from BoJ Governor Fukui that additional rate moves will be measured. Data released in Japan today saw January convenience store sales off 0.7% y/y, the seventh consecutive monthly decline. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.01% to close at ¥17,939.12. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥119.60 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥158.05 level and was supported around the ¥157.30 level. The British pound and Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥235.05 and ¥97.30 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan market will reopen after the Chinese Lunar holiday.

The British pound rallied vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9575 level and was supported around the $1.9475 level. Cable rallied after the release of U.K. economic data that were released today. First, the January M4 money supply was up 13.0% y/y while M4 lending grew a strong ₤31.7 billion. Second, January public sector net borrowing printed at -₤10.3 billion, the highest level since January 2001. Third, CML January mortgage lending printed at ₤26.8 billion, the highest level ever for that month while BSA mortgage lending and approvals reached their strongest level ever last month. Fourth, BBA mortgage lending ticked down marginally to ₤5.6 billion in January. Today’s data – including the M4 money supply data – will likely tilt BoE closer to a rate hike as early as next month. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9510/ 1.9415 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6715 level and was capped around the ₤0.6745 level.


The Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2390 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2310 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from CHF 1.3235 to CHF 1.1875. Data released in Switzerland today saw the January trade surplus grow to CHF 1.271 billion last month while the January producer price index was off 0.2% m/m and up 2.2% y/y. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2430 level. The euro and British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.6275 and CHF 2.4195 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$ 0.7850 level and was capped around the ₤0.7870 level. Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.7795 level.


The Canadian dollar lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1680 level and was supported around the C$ 1.1635 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from C$ 1.1875 to C$ 1.1615. Data released in Canada yesterday saw December international securities transactions print at C$ 3.26 billion while December wholesale sales were up 2.7% m/m. Data released in Canada today saw the January consumer price index rise 1.2% y/y while the ex-energy component was up 1.8% y/y, up from December’s +1.7% y/y gain. Core CPI was up 2.1% y/y and above December’s 2.0% expansion. U.S. dollar bids are cited around the C$ 1.1600 figure.

Gold/ Silver

Gold lost significant ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested bids around the US$ 655.90 level and was capped around the $671.90 level. The dollar’s gains vis-à-vis the yen contributed to the pair’s gains. Speculation that Russia and some Middle Eastern countries may increase their gold holdings and physical demand from China and India may underpin the pair. Silver lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested bids around the US$ 13.68 level and was capped around the $14.03 level.

Crude Oil

Crude oil shed ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude oil futures for March delivery tested offers around the US$ 57.82 level and were capped around the $59.42 level. News that three oil workers were kidnapped in Nigeria on Sunday did not keep a floor on prices. About 20% of Nigerian production remains closed on account of attacks. Warmer temperatures in the U.S. could reduce demand for home heating oil and this is keep the price pressured. Traders also expect a draw on U.S. inventories when weekly data are released tomorrow. Iranian officials are meeting with IAEA direct El Baradei and the United Nations Security Council is expected to announce that Iran is non-compliant with a Security Council demand to halt uranium enrichment.


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