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Thursday March 8, 2007 - 16:39:22 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (8 March 2007)

The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3115 level and was capped around the $1.3180 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.2910 to $1.3255. As expected, the European Central Bank lifted its main refinancing rate target by +25bps to 3.75%. ECB President Trichet reported the decision was “unanimous” and said the central bank is “constantly alert” on price risks, adding the growth in the M3 money supply has been “very, very dynamic.” Trichet reported “We continue to be on the accommodative side and I said that interest rates were moderate, last time I said they were low, which is a nuance that speaks by itself.” Trichet did not use the word “vigilant” to discuss the ECB’s stance against inflation and many traders conclude the ECB will now pause for a while before lifting rates again. Instead, Trichet used terms like “credible alertness” and “very closely” to discuss the ECB’s position. Data released in the eurozone today saw German Q4 labour costs climb 0.1% q/q, the lowest increase since the end of 2005, while German industrial output was up 1.9% m/m in January. In U.S. news, weekly initial jobless claims were off 10,000 to 328,000 in the week of 3 March while continuing jobless claims came of 98,000 to 2.526 million. The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book released yesterday indicated most regions of the U.S. “reported modest expansion in economic activity since the last report but several districts noted some slowing” since last month’s Beige Book. Anecdotal retail sales results from U.S. merchants suggest the pace of retail spending decelerated last month. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3085 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥117.40 level and was supported around the ¥115.55 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 61.8% retracement of the move from ¥114.45 to ¥122.15. Data released in Japan today saw January industrial machinery orders climb 17.9 y/y while the February M2+CDs money supply was up 1.1% y/y. Also, capital flows data released today saw foreigners sell a net ¥21.8 billion of equities last week, the first time foreigners have been net sellers of equities in eight weeks. Additionally, February bank lending climbed 1.4% y/y to ¥388.55 trillion and the February economy watchers’ index climbed 2.0 index points m/m, its first rise in five months. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.94% to close at ¥17,090.31. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥115.20 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥154.30 level and was supported around the ¥152.20 level. The British pound and Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥226.85 and ¥95.95 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan was unchanged vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback closed at CNY 7.7400 in the over-the-counter market. A People’s Bank of China official indicated China has additional room to raise the reserve requirement. U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson urged China today to expedite further economic and financial reforms. PBOC Vice Governor Wu Xiaoling indicated a new foreign exchange reserve management agency will be given a portion of new foreign exchange reserves to manage. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange, an instrumentality of PBOC, will continue to manage most of China’s foreign reserves.

The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9270 level and was capped around the $1.9350 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from $1.9915 to $1.9180. As expected, Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee kept interest rates unchanged with the main repo rate steady at 5.25%. Some traders believe the MPC will lift borrowing costs by +25bps to 5.50% next month and conclude the current tightening cycle. By the April MPC meeting, the central bank should have significant details about the current pay awards negotiations underway in the U.K. and this will play into its decision-making. Minutes from today’s MPC deliberations will be released on 21 March, the same day U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown is scheduled to release his Budget. Data released in the U.K. today saw Halifax February house prices up 1.8% m/m and 9.9% y/y. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9215 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6795 level and was capped around the ₤0.6835 level.


The Swiss franc came off sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2295 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2160 level. Data released in Switzerland today saw the February consumer price index climb 0.2% m/m and was unchanged y/y. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2325 level. The euro and British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.6130 and CHF 2.3715 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the US$ 0.7750 level and was capped around the $0.7790 level. Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.7700/ 0.7615 level.


The Canadian dollar weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the C$ 1.1815 level and was supported around the C$ 1.1765 level. Data released in Canada today saw January house prices climb 10.1% y/y. Traders await comments from Bank of Canada Governor Dodge later in the North American session. U.S. dollar bids are cited around the C$ 1.1755/ 20 levels.


The New Zealand dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the kiwi tested offers around the US$ 0.6875 level and was supported around the $0.6755 level. Reserve Bank of New Zealand lifted its official cash rate by +25bps to 7.50% on account of robust private domestic demand and a strong housing market. Today’s move represents RBNZ’s first hike since December 2005 and indicated it may raise rates further. New Zealand dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.6710 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 655.65 level and was supported around the $647.60 level. It was reported today that South Africa’s annual gold production reached its lowest level since 1922 last year, off 7.5% to 275.1 tons, and about 50% lower than it was one decade ago. Silver climbed higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested offers around the US$ 13.15 level and was supported around the $12.95 level.

Crude Oil

Crude oil came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude oil futures for April delivery tested bids around the US$ 61.20 level and was capped around the $62.25 level. Data released in the U.S. saw crude oil stocks decline by 4.8 million barrels in the week to 2 March, defying expectations of a climb of 1.8 million barrels. Also, gasoline inventories were off 3.08 million barrels, much more-than-expected. Global officials continue to meet to discuss further United Nations sanctions against Iran and traders do not expect any change in output production levels at the next OPEC meeting in Vienna on 15 March.


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