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Friday April 27, 2007 - 15:36:43 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (27 April 2007)

The euro established a fresh lifetime high vis-à-vis the US dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3680 level and was supported around the US$ 1.3585 level. Technically, today's intraday low was right around the 61.8% retracement level of the move from $1.3540 to $1.3665. The common currency reached a new lifetime high after the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. first quarter GDP data that saw the economy expand at a 1.3% annualized rate, below the 1.9% growth level that was expected and to the slowest annualized pace since the first quarter of 2003. Also, the employment cost index printed at 0.8%, just below expectations, on account of lower benefit costs despite higher wages and salaries. Additionally, the headline PCE price index was up sharply from the -1.0% decline in Q4 2006, and the core PCE price index gained 2.2%, up from 1.8% in Q4 2006. During the past 12 months, the core PCE price index has risen 2.2%. Collectively, today’s data will present a problem for Federal Reserve policymakers because they evidence a slowing U.S. economy alongside elevated inflation pressures. The Federal Open Market Committee next convenes on 9 May to deliberate monetary policy and most traders believe the Fed will keep interest rates unchanged. Other data released in the U.S. today saw the April final University of Michigan consumer sentiment index print at 87.1, down from 88.4 in March. In eurozone news, preliminary German April CPI data in some German states came in hotter-than-expected, adding to the view the European Central Bank will tighten monetary policy in the next couple of months. Also, French consumer confidence and Italian business confidence rallied this month. The European Union reported that its trade surplus with the United States accelerated to €91 billion in 2006 from €89 billion in 2005. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3605 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated as vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥118.90 level and was capped around the ¥119.75 level. Stops were reached below the ¥119.00 figure, representing the 61.8% retracement level of the move from ¥119.85 to ¥117.60. As expected, Bank of Japan's Policy Board kept interest rates unchanged overnight with the unsecured overnight call rate steady at +0.50%. Also, the BoJ reduced its core consumer price inflation forecast to 0.1% from 0.5%, an indication the central bank is still concerned with deflationary pressures in the Japanese economy. The central bank reaffirmed its previous GDP forecast of 2.1%. Many economic data were released in Japan overnight including March core CPI data that were down y/y, a larger decline than most estimates expected. March retail sales were off 0.7% y/y, the sixth consecutive monthly decline, and the March unemployment rate printed at 4.0%. Additionally, March construction orders received by the 50 largest firms fell 1.6% y/y and March industrial output sank 0.6% m/m. On a positive note, March household spending gained 0.1% y/y, and March housing starts were up 5.5% y/y. Despite the mostly negative economic data released overnight, they yen gained ground after Bank of Japan Governor Fukui reported “If the economic expansion mechanism is in place and prices are on an uptrend, we have to adjust interest rates; otherwise, it could cause wider swings in the economy. We cannot ignore price movements in the short run, but more importantly, we have to look at the longer-term trend." His comments suggest policymakers may place greater emphasis on economic growth in the future, even if prices remain weak in the Japanese economy. The Nikkei 225 index lost 0.17% to close at ¥17,400.41. Dollar bids are cited around the 118.75/45 levels. The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥162.95 level and was supported around the ¥162.20 level, a fresh all-time high. The British pound and Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥238.80 level and the ¥99.15 level, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated sharply vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.7135 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.7263, a fresh post-revaluation low.

The British pound gained significant ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 2.0040 level was supported around the $1.9865 level. Technically, today's intraday low was right around the 50% retracement level of the move from $1.9590 to $2.0130. Traders cited talk that a central bank worked a large buy order during the European session. Interestingly, Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Tucker spoke yesterday and reported that the current repo rate of 5.25% and the modestly sloping money market curve are “edging towards being restrictive" so long as inflation falls back as expected in the near term. He added “that has been appropriate given the degree of pricing power apparently emergent in conditions of high capacity utilization among firms. It has provided the platform needed going forward to restrain inflation pressures, and to maintain anchored inflation expectations, at a time when, understandably there is public debate about the outlook given that CPI inflation rose above 3% for the first time, triggering an open letter from the Governor to the Chancellor.” Most traders believe the MPC will lift interest rates by +25bps in May. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9925 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6815 level and was capped around the ₤0.6840 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the US dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2005 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2090 level. Technically, today's intraday high was right around the 23.6% retracement level of the move from CHF 1.2770 to CHF 1.1875. Data released in Switzerland today saw the April KOF economic barometer improve to 1.90 from a revised 1.84 in March and 1.74 in January. Swiss National Bank President Roth spoke today and reported “The current situation remains comfortable due to the fact that the inflation outlook is moderate and last year's drop in oil prices is having a favourable impact on the indices. We will continue increasing interest rates to the full extent that is necessary in order to preserve price stability in the medium term.” Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2125 level. The euro and British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.6445 level and CHF 2.4110 level, respectively.


The Australian dollar gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.8335 level and was supported around the $0.8240 level. Technically, today's intraday low and high were right around the 61.8% and 23.6% retracement levels of the move from $0.8150 to $0.8390, respectively. Traders are split as to whether Reserve Bank of Australia will tighten monetary policy next month. Australian dollar bids are cited around the $0.8270/40 levels.


The Canadian dollar appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$1.1125 level and was capped around the C$ 1.1225 level. Technically, today's intraday high was right around the 76.4% retracement level of the move from C$1.1030 to C$1.1875. Some traders now believe Bank of Canada's next interest rate move will be a rate hike and not a rate cut. The Canadian dollar was supported by mergers and acquisitions news that Norway's Statoil energy company will purchase Canada's North American Oil Sands Corporation in a C$2.2 billion deal. Also, a Canadian poll was released that shows Canadian manufacturers are more optimistic about output and employment prospects in the second quarter than they were in the first quarter. Canadian finance Minister Flaherty will speak today. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.1230/85 levels.

Gold/ Silver

Gold appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 678.85 level and was supported around the US$ 670.85 level. The U.S. dollar's intraday losses contributed to the pair’s gains. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested offers around the $13.48 level and was supported around the $13.22 level.

Crude Oil

Crude oil came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light sweet NYMEX crude futures for June delivery tested bids around the $64.62 level and was capped around the $65.46 level. Iranian official Larijani reported his country and the European Union are making progress towards a “united view” over Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities. This led to reduced fears that Iran will use oil as a bargaining tool in its current stalemate with the global community regarding its uranium enrichment. The price of crude is being supported by dwindling gasoline inventories in the United States, the world's largest consumer. Notably, gasoline inventories are currently lower 6.7% y/y.


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