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XE Market Analysis: Asia - Feb 28, 2013

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The dollar firmed in N.Y. trade on Thursday, even as equities rallied again. U.S. data was better than expected, with jobless claims falling, and the February Chicago PMI raising more than forecast. This said, revised Q4 GDP was a disappointment. EUR-USD eased on the back of fresh talk of ECB rate cuts, perhaps as soon as the meeting after next, falling under 1.3060. USD-JPY rallied over 92.80 after opening near 92.30, as buying continued on the back of the formal BoJ candidate Kuroda. Friday's U.S. calendar is busy, with personal income and PCE, manufacturing ISM, construction spending, Michigan sentiment, and auto sales all on tap.

[EUR, USD]
EUR longs backtracked after a dovish think tank report. The U.S. name said ECB's policy meeting next week could have the first open-ended discussion on interest rates in three months. The report follows yesterday's remarks from ECB chief Draghi, who confirmed that the ECB is "far from exiting stimulus measures". The EUR could trade heavier into the meeting and we noted hedging of one week and two week 1.3000 EUR puts during the European morning. EUR-USD pulled back from 1.3135 to under 1.3160 in morning trade, before recovering to near 1.3100.

[USD, JPY]
USD-JPY and the JPY crosses were well supported on Thursday, as Japanese importers were notable buyers overnight. The N.Y. session saw steady bidding interest through the session, taking USD-JPY over 92.80 after opening near 92.30. The formal nomination of Kuroda as BoJ governor kept yen bear's hops alive, though Japan Finance Minister Aso's rule out BoJ foreign bond buying, which could be seen as intervention, could have dampened enthusiasm.

[GBP, USD]
Cable maintained a supportive tone following yesterday's grind higher, which left it just shy of 1.5200. It pulled back by the N.Y. afternoon to 1.5120, but found buyers on dips, leaving it over 1.5200 for a short time today. News that Vodafone may delay its approach for Kabel Deutschland triggered some unwinding of speculative short positions. There was also added benefit from U.K. Q4 GDP, which was revised up to +0.3% y/y from a flat reading previously. Economic data releases out of the U.K. have been more encouraging since the start of the year, but confidence is still low judging by the weak GfK confidence reading ovenright. Cable is still tending to trend lower due to BoE policy expectations. However, we are now at levels where a short term base may be building.

[USD, CHF]
EUR-CHF edged back into 1.2200 after the unexpected upturn in Swiss Q4 GDP and EUR-USD's inability to sustain higher levels. The number is encouraging and follows other more robust readings out of Switzerland. However, this should not detract from the SNB's policy stance and like other central banks it has vowed to maintain easy policy until it overcomes deflationary headwind and growth is on a sound footing both domestically and in particular, the eurozone. USD-CHF has been a non event this week. Even with EUR fluctuating sharply early in the week it could not sustain upward momentum, with sellers from 0.9350 putting a decent cap on the topside, leaving it close to the 0.9300 area.

[USD, CAD]
USD-CAD broke down under 1.0220 in London trade, though Canadian names stepped in on the bid, taking the pairing back to 1.0250 into the North American open. The pairing remained firm through the morning, eventually able to malke marginally new trend highs of 1.0309, though again failed to hold the 1.0300 handle. Light stop loss buying was seen at the figure, though offers quickly returned, taking USD-CAD back under 1.0280. Fund and option backed sellers were noted over 1.0300.

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