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Friday March 9, 2007 - 15:38:30 GMT
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Forex Research - FX Briefing 9 March 2007 - Turmoil subsides

FX Briefing 9 March 2007
Highlights
• Yen rally halted for time being
• ECB leaves door open for further rate rises, but end of tightening in sight
• Beige Book supports interest rate cut expectations

Turmoil subsides
After last week’s turmoil, the forex markets have calmed down again. Together with the recovery in global equities, the yen’s rally ran out of steam. USD-JPY remained volatile, but closed at 117.45 – significantly higher than last week’s low of 115.16. The yen relinquished its sharp gains against the euro too. All in all however, the Japanese currency was still at its strongest level for three months. In view of the exchange rate movements over the past week, investors are apparently being much more cautious about building up carry trade positions on a large scale again. This week, EUR-USD moved in a very narrow trading range around 1.3150. The ECB’s interest rate rise had no effect on this either. As the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged, the pound Sterling remained on the weak side.

As widely expected, the European Central Bank raised its main rate by a further 25 bp to 3.75%, and signalled that it was now switching back into wait-and-see mode again. The ECB Council will therefore monitor further developments very closely. The ECB Council’s growth projections were revised significantly upwards. Thus the experts are now expecting growth to average 2.5% in 2007 and 2.4% in 2008. Inflation projections for 2007 were revised downwards to 1.8% and raised slightly to 2.0% for 2008 due to higher growth. Against this backdrop, the Council still considers it important to take firm and timely action to keep price levels stable in the medium term.

Thus the Council has left the door open for a further rate rise. However, at the same time it has signalled that the end of the tightening cycle could be approaching. Jean-Claude Trichet himself has pointed out that the central bank sees the current interest rates as moderate rather than low as before. Furthermore, monetary policy was no longer described as “still being accommodative”, but as “continuing to be on the accommodative side”.

The ECB Council appears to think that interest rates are now close to the appropriate level for the current economic situation. However, we are still expecting growth in the eurozone to have lost momentum by the next possible date for an interest rate rise in June; furthermore inflation is likely to be lower than currently estimated by the Council. We are thus not anticipating a further interest rate step.

With regard to the USA, the markets’ main focus was on the US central bank’s Beige Book, which was released in preparation for the next Fed meeting on 21 March. On the whole, the report described the economy as expanding moderately. In some regions, growth had even continued to slow down. In market participants’ eyes, this will make interest rate cuts more probable, particularly in view of this week’s comments by Ben Bernanke on the touchy subject of the housing and mortgage markets, when he warned of increasing risks. After the release of the Beige Book, the Japanese currency shot up initially against the dollar, only to fall sharply again later.

There are several US economic indicators on next week’s agenda again. The main focus is likely to be on the first sentiment indicators for March. We are expecting both business climate and consumer confidence to have deteriorated somewhat. But there could be signs that the inflation situation is easing. After the significant increase in core CPI in February of 0.3%, we are only expecting it to rise slightly by 0.1% in March. All in all, the US data are not likely to lessen expectations that the US central bank is moving towards an interest rate cut.

There are no important European indicators due to be released next week. The only data likely to be of interest are the results of the ZEW survey. They could reveal whether the strong market movements over the last few weeks have had a negative impact on expectations.

Uwe Angenendt +49 69 718-3648
Economics Department
+49 69 718-3642
volkswirtschaft@bhf-bank.com
Foreign Exchange Trading
devisenhandel@bhf-bank.com
Jörg Isselmann
+49 69 718-2695
Matthias Grabbe / Klaus Näfken
+49 69 718-2688

This report has been prepared by BHF-BANK Aktiengesellschaft on behalf of itself and its affiliated companies (together "BHF-BANK Group") solely for the information of its clients. The information and opinions in this document are based on sources believed to be reliable and acting in good faith, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made by any member of the BHF-BANK Group as to their accuracy, completeness or correctness. Opinions and recommendations are given in good faith but without legal responsibility and are subject to change without notice. The information does not constitute advice or personal recommendation, for which the duty of suitability would be owed, but may facilitate your own investment decision. Moreover, you should seek your own advice as to the suitability of an investment matter mentioned herein. Investors are reminded that the price of securities and the income from them can go down as well as up and that the past performance of an investment or a market is not necessarily indicative for future results. This document is for information purposes only. Descriptions of any company or companies or their securities mentioned herein are not intended to be complete, and this document is not, and should not be construed as, an offer to sell or solicitation of any offer to buy the securities mentioned in it. BHF-BANK Group and its officers and employees may have a long or short position or engage in transactions in any of the securities mentioned in this document, or in any related securities. This publication must not be distributed in the United States.
© 2005 BHF-BANK Aktiengesellschaft
All rights reserved. Please mention source when quoting from it.

 

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