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Monday January 4, 2010 - 17:58:39 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (4 January 2010)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar on Thursday as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.4455 level and was supported around the $1.4255 level.  The common currency gained ground as traders reacted to positive gains in U.S. equity markets on the first trading day of the year.  The common currency gained 2.52% in 2009.  Data to be released in the U.S. tomorrow include December ISM manufacturing data and November construction spending data followed by November factory orders data on Wednesday.  The all-important U.S. December non-farm payrolls data will be released on Friday and dealers are curious to see if the recent trend of fewer job losses will continue.  Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Kohn said there is “no shortage” of tools at the Fed’s disposal to withdraw monetary stimulus.  Kohn noted “the appropriate use and sequencing of these tools is under active discussion by the FOMC.”  Some Fed-watchers believe the Fed will announce plans to sell small amounts of bonds and other assets from its balance sheet. Other Fed-watchers believe the Fed may be forced to expand some of its monetary stimulus in 2010.  In eurozone news, data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-16 manufacturing PMI rise to a 21-month high of 51.6 in December from November’s print of 51.2 and this also propelled the common currency higher.  Orders and output improved as did performance in the French market and this adds to the view the eurozone manufacturing sector will continue to improve in 2010.  Germany’s manufacturing PMI reading improved to 52.7 from 52.4.  Other data released today saw the EMU-16 December Sentix investor confidence index improve to -3.7 from -5.5 in November.  Dealers are paying close attention to the fiscal situation in Greece where European Central Bank and European Commission officials will visit on Wednesday.  Greece is planning to reduce its fiscal deficit to 8.7% of gross domestic product in 2010, still sharply above the limits imposed by the European Union.  Greece’s credit ratings were downgraded in December on account of a deterioration in the country’s fiscal position.  Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3885 level.


¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥92.30 level and was capped around the ¥93.20 level.  The pair gained 2.63% in 2009.  Continued evidence of a global economic recovery reduced demand for U.S. dollars and elevated demand for higher-yielding assets.  There has been a resumption of last year’s negative correlation between equity markets and the U.S. dollar during the first full day of trading in 2010.  In December, that paradigm was shifted as the U.S. dollar rallied on positive U.S. economic news and these rallies were coincident with improvements in U.S. equities prices.  Some dealers believe the late-2009 rally in the greenback may have simply been traders covering dollar shorts and booking profits.  Notably, U.S. mutual funds reduced foreign holdings to 25.8% of total holdings in November from about 26% in October, a level that matched the record established in May 2008.  A further reduction in foreign holdings could increase demand for the U.S. dollar.  Japan’s gross domestic product fell to an annualized ¥471 trillion in the third quarter of 2009, the lowest level since 1991.  The finance ministry is now predicting Japan’s tax revenue will decline to at least a 25-year low in 2010.  Dealers are also paying very close attention to plans for the government’s budget in 2010 that does little to reduce record deficits.  Japan’s Aa2 credit rating may be imperiled if fiscal conditions do not improve.  Japan currently has about US$ 8.96 trillion in Japanese government bonds outstanding, outweighing the U.S.’s US$ 8.78 trillion in federal debt.  Current forecasts suggest Japan’s fiscal deficit would remain as high as 8% of GDP in 2014, a sharp contrast to a 6.7% forecast for the U.S. and talk of a balanced budget in Germany.  Notably, Japan’s GDP is estimated to reach 246% of gross domestic product in 2010, compared to about 108% for the U.S. and 89% for Germany.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.03% to close at ¥10,654.79.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥94.75 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥133.80 level and was supported around the ¥132.35 level.  The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥150.70 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥90.00 figure. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar depreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8273 in the over-the-counter market, up from CNY 6.8270.  People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou last week reported “2010 is a crucial year in strengthening the stabilization and recovery of the economy and defeating the international financial crisis.”  People’s Bank of China reported China’s foreign reserves management will face a larger challenge in 2010.  PBoC reaffirmed it will “gradually proceed” with exchange rate reform.  Today, PBOC official Sheng Songcheng reported China should invest its foreign exchange reserves in oil and other important resources.  Data released in China today saw December manufacturing PMI improve to 56.1, its sharpest gain in more than give years. 



The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.6055 level and was supported around the $1.6240 level.  Data released in the U.K. today saw the December CIPS manufacturing index improve to 54.1 from 51.8 in November, the highest reading since November 2007.  This improvement could signal that the manufacturing sector contributed positively to U.K. GDP at the end of Q4 and could lead to an overall positive print in U.K. GDP for the quarter.  Other data released in the U.K. overnight saw November mortgage approvals increase to 60,520 from 57,720 while the M4 money supply was up 0.1% m/m and 9.3% y/y.  U.S. bond giant PIMCO announced it is reducing its holdings of U.K. bonds.  Bank of England today announced part of its asset purchase program plans for Q1 in which it will purchase at least ₤215 million in gilts.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5755 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as cable tested bids around the ₤0.8965 level and was supported around the ₤0.8855 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0260 level and was capped around the CHF 1.0420 level.  The pair lost 2.98% in 2009. Swiss National Bank member Hildebrand announced the central bank will announce new liquidity and capital requirements in 2010.  Data released in Switzerland today saw December manufacturing PMI fall to 54.6 from 56.9 in November.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.0615 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.4890 level while the British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested bids around the CHF 1.6545 level.


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