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Wednesday March 21, 2007 - 15:57:11 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (21 March 2007)

The euro came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3290 level and was capped around the $1.3320 level. Price activity was limited during the Australasian and European sessions on account of today’s interest rate decision and statement from the Federal Open Market Committee. Most traders believe the Fed will keep its federal funds target rate at 5.25% and the Fed’s statement will be scrutinized. One school of thought suggests the Fed will acknowledge the recent unrest in the sub-prime mortgage market and delicately suggest it may be ready to lower rates later this year. Another school of thought suggests the Fed cannot afford to intimate it may reduce borrowing costs this year, especially as consumer and producer prices remain elevated. In eurozone news, European Central Bank President Trichet hawkishly said “Our monetary policy, as far as we see it, continues to be on the accommodative side with the key ECB interest rates moderate, money and credit growth vigorous and liquidity ample by all plausible measures” adding economic growth remains “robust.” Trichet’s comments make it clear that the ECB remains in a tightening mode, although most traders do not expect the central bank to lift borrowing costs in April. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3245 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥117.90 level and was supported around the ¥117.20 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was just above the 38.2% retracement of the move from ¥109.00 to ¥122.15. Financial markets were closed in Japan today for the vernal equinox holiday and will reopen overnight. Today’s Federal Open Market Committee statement could impact the unwinding of short yen carry trades, especially if the Fed intimates it may reduce interest rates later in the year. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥116.65 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥156.80 level and was supported around the ¥156.05 level. The British pound and Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥231.15 and ¥97.10 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.7340 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.7375 and a post-yuan revaluation low. People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou said the PBOC “worries about the trend of inflation but not the current level of inflation.”

The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9555 level and was capped around the $1.9650 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 76.4% retracement of the move from $1.9670 to $1.9180. Sterling weakened after the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting minutes from March were released and were more dovish than expected. The markets anticipated a vote of 7-to-2 to keep rates unchanged with two opting for a hike and the actual tally was 8-to-1 with Blanchflower voting for a cut in rates. Some traders are not reading too much into today’s minutes because the MPC did not have yesterday’s very hot inflation data at their disposal at their March meeting. MPC member Barker said “short-term uncertainty” in inflation resulting from the energy market could result in “more frequent interest rate changes.” Traders await the Budget statement from Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown this afternoon. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9460 level. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6805 level and was supported around the ₤0.6775 level.


The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2160 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2115 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2350 to CHF 1.2025. Data released in Switzerland today saw the trade surplus expand to CHF 1.381 billion in February from CHF 1.271 billion in January. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2210 level. The euro and British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.6160 and CHF 2.3820 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested bids around the psychologically-important US$ 0.8000 figure and was capped around the $0.8040 level. Many traders believe Reserve Bank of Australia will tighten interest rates again as early as next month. Data released in Australia today saw the March skilled vacancies index fall 2.0% m/m. Also, the Westpac January leading index was up 4.8% y/y, down from December’s 5.4% y/y result. Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.7945 level.


The Canadian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.1585 level and was capped around the C$ 1.1630 level. Data released in Canada today saw January retail sales fall 0.2% m/m with the ex-autos component up 0.3%. Traders are still talking about yesterday’s February CPI data that saw the annual core inflation rate jump 2.4% from January’s 2.1% rate. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1655 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 662.00 figure and was supported around the $656.95 level. Precious metals traders await today’s statement from the FOMC. Silver moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested bids around the US$ 13.14 level and was capped around the $13.37 level.

Crude Oil

Crude oil shed ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude oil futures for May delivery tested bids around the US$ 59.25 level and was capped around the $59.87 level. Data released in the U.S. today saw crude oil inventories climb 4 million barrels in the week that ended 16 March while gasoline inventories were off 3.4 million barrels. Russia and Iran are currently in a bitter dispute involving the latter’s reported failure to pay for Russian nuclear technology and materials and this may shift sentiment against Iran’s favour at the United Nations Security Council as far as sanctions are concerned.


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