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Thursday May 31, 2007 - 16:57:38 GMT
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Forex and Commodity Market Commentary and Analysis (31 May 2007)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3475 level and was supported around the $1.3425 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was just above the 23.6% retracement of the move from US$ 1.3680 to $1.3405. Traders pushed the common currency higher after the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. Q1 GDP data that estimated the economy expanded at an annualized 0.6% pace, down sharply from the initial 1.3% estimate. Declining housing market investments, declining inventories, and the large trade gap contributed to the deceleration in growth. At the same time, however, the core personal consumption expenditures price index was up 2.2%, above the Federal Reserve’s perceived comfort zone. Collectively, these data evidenced a slowing U.S. economy at the beginning of the year with stubbornly elevated inflation pressures – a difficult economic environment that precludes the Fed from expanding monetary policy and lowering interest rates. Other data released in the U.S. today saw the May Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index improve to 61.7 from 52.9 in April while the prices paid index increased to 70.2 from 64.9 – further evidence of inflationary pressures in the economic pipeline that may not have reached the consumer yet. Also, weekly initial jobless claims were off 4,000 to 310,000. The U.S. dollar improved marginally yesterday after the release of the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s interest rate meeting from earlier this month revealed “Nearly all participants viewed core inflation as remaining uncomfortably high and stressed the importance of further moderation.” In eurozone news, the German May unemployment rate fell to 9.1% while the unemployment count rose 3,000 following a decline of 8,000 in April. Also, the European Commission’s monthly survey of economic sentiment in the eurozone improved to -1 from -4 in April. European Central Bank member Draghi hawkishly said “Money and credit continue to grow strongly,” an indication rates will continue to rise in the eurozone. Other data released there today saw EMU-13 May provisional harmonized consumer prices remain unchanged at +1.9% y/y. Also, German wholesale sales were off 1.5% m/m and up 3.0% y/y. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3375 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen weakened marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥122.00 figure and was supported around the ¥121.45 level. The pair reached its strongest print since 12 February after Bank of Japan Policy Board member Nishimura reported the central bank “does not see any urgent situation at this point in time, so it is not desirable to stress (that interest rates left too low too long could distort flows of funds and allocation of resources). Most traders believe BoJ will not raise interest rates until after the July parliamentary elections. Data released in Japan today saw April housing starts fall 3.6% y/y while employees’ average pay was off 0.7% y/y, the fifth consecutive monthly decline. Also, orders received by the 50 largest contractors were up 1.8% y/y in April. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.63% to close at ¥17,875.75. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥120.85 level. The euro improved vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥163.95 level and was supported around the ¥163.00 figure. The British pound and Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the crosses tested offers around the ¥241.05 and ¥99.45 levels, respectively. The Chinese yuan appreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 7.6465 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 7.6471. Vice Premier Wu said China “has taken its own initiative to resolve the exchange rate regime. External pressure "won't hasten this process."

The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9815 level and was supported around the $1.9735 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 38.2% retracement of the move from $1.9675 to $1.9900. Sterling gained some ground yesterday after Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member and reputed monetary archdove Blanchflower said “The rationale for my decision to vote for a rate rise this month was to ensure that inflation expectations remain anchored, given rising food prices, recent further increases in oil prices, more robust world growth, and the March inflation outturn.” While Blanchflower did not indicate if he would vote for additional tightening in the near future, he did vote for a rate cut as recently as March thus his comments are significant and suggest the MPC could lift borrowing costs again by August. Data released in the U.K. today saw Nationwide house prices rise 0.5% m/m and 10.3% y/y in May. Also, the April final M4 money supply was up 1.3% m/m and 13.3% y/y. Additionally, the monthly GfK/ NOP main headline consumer confidence index climbed to -2 in May from -6 in April, its highest level since July 2005. Also, Confederation of British Industry’s volume of sales balance decline as expected to +31% in May from +44% in April but this was tempered by news that retailers pushed up prices in May by their largest amount in nine years. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9715 level. The euro lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6795 level and was capped around the ₤0.6810 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2230 level and was capped around the CHF 1.2270 level. Technically, today’s intraday high was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from CHF 1.2355 to CHF 1.1995. Data released in Switzerland today saw Q1 GDP up 2.4% y/y. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2325 level. The euro and British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the crosses tested offers around the CHF 1.6495 and CHF 2.4260 levels, respectively.


The Australian dollar moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the Aussie tested offers around the US$ 0.8290 level and was supported around the $0.8215 level. Technically, today’s intraday low was right around the 23.6% retracement of the move from $0.8390 to $0.8160. Data released in Australia today saw April private sector credit growth up 1.2% m/m and 14.5% y/y while Q1 capital expenditures were up 9.1% q/q and 4.7% y/y. Also, the April trade deficit narrowed to –A$ 962 million from –A$ 1.628 billion in March. Australian dollar bids are cited around the US$ 0.8160 level.


The Canadian dollar extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the C$ 1.0665 level and was capped around the C$ 1.0745 level, a fresh multi-decade low. Data released in Canada today saw the economy expand 0.9% in Q1 and 3.7% y/y, more than twice the rate of Q4 2006. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the C$ 1.0790 level.

Gold/ Silver

Gold gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the yellow metal tested offers around the US$ 661.20 level and was supported around the $651.45 level. Weak U.S. GDP data contributed to gold’s gains today, as did data that showed core PCE price inflation was up 2.2% in Q1 from 1.8% in Q4. Silver moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the pair tested offers around the US$ 13.50 level and was supported around the $13.11 level.

Crude Oil

Crude oil lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as light, sweet NYMEX crude oil futures for July delivery tested bids around the US$ 62.50 level and were capped around the $63.98 level. The pair lost ground after ConocoPhillips reported it has restarted its 194,000 bpd refinery in Oklahoma. Also, weekly U.S. energy inventories data were released today and they saw crude stocks off 2.0 million while gasoline and distillate stocks were up +1.3 million and 100,000, respectively.


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