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Little Movement in Forex Markets Ahead of Fed Announcement

James Hyerczyk from ForexHound.com at 01/27/10


The U.S. Dollar is trading flat overnight against most major currencies ahead of this afternoon’s Fed FOMC announcement. Many of the markets are trading inside of yesterday’s ranges, driven primarily by position squaring as traders try to assess the Fed’s next move.

The consensus says the Fed is likely to acknowledge that economic growth has accelerated since its last meeting in December but risks still exist to the economy because of tight credit conditions and unemployment. Based on the evidence that the Fed is pouring over, look for interest rates to remain low for “an extended period”. The FOMC will continue to monitor U.S. economic data for signs of a sustained recovery that will stimulate jobs growth without triggering high inflation.

Like previous FOMC meetings, the markets will focus on the phase “an extended period”. At this time, this probably means 6-9 months. Taking out this phrase or altering it will be a signal that the Fed is getting ready to act sooner than previously estimated. This news will move the markets substantially and most likely trigger a rally in the Dollar while putting pressure on Treasury futures. Equity markets could have a knee-jerk reaction to the downside before stabilizing.

Since its last meeting in December, a couple of regional Fed presidents have gone on record expressing their concerns over the current mortgage-backed securities program. This stimulus measure is expected to end on March 31, but St. Louis Fed President Bullard wants to extend the program while Philadelphia Fed President Plosser says it should end on time.

The mortgage buyback program has helped reduce mortgage rates 0.25 to 0.75 which has helped stabilize the U.S. housing market. Ending the program prematurely could stall the housing market recovery. The key is to end the stimulus measure without knocking the housing market recovery off course.

The focus of this Fed announcement may shift from “when” interest rates will begin to rise to will the Fed’s ending of its mortgage buyback program stifle the economy enough to knock the housing market off its path to recovery. Traders should watch for a two-sided move following the announcement as some traders will focus on the “extended period” language while other will focus on whether or not the Fed ends or extends its mortgage buyback program.

The EUR USD is trading higher while sitting inside a tight range. The recent bottom at 1.4029 was tested successfully. The current chart pattern suggests the daily trend will turn to up following a breakout over 1.4194.

The series of inside moves the past three days is likely to make the GBP USD the most volatile market. For the past few days, this market has been establishing support inside a series of retracement levels. A strong breakout to the upside is likely to trigger a near-term rally to 1.6355. A break to the downside targets 1.5895.

Demand for lower yields triggered by a possible slowdown in the global economy continues to pressure the USD JPY. Light buying came in last night when this market tested a major 50% price level at 89.30.

The USD CHF is trading weaker after failing to accelerate through the last swing top at 1.0495. In addition, this market is nearing the December top at 1.0507. Both prices are potential breakout areas. On the downside, a new main bottom has been formed at 1.0367. A trade through this level will turn the main trend down on the daily chart.

The USD CAD is trading inside of yesterday’s range, which could be a sign that upside momentum is weakening. A break through 1.0544 will be a sign that this market is getting ready to break after a prolonged move to the upside. Crude oil, gold and equity markets could have a big influence on this market today after the Fed announcement.

The AUD USD is holding steady overnight. At this time, this pair is trading inside a major retracement zone at .9031 to .8961. It is possible that a rally could start from this retracement zone, but it will take increased demand for higher risk assets to ignite such a move.

The NZD USD is trading inside of yesterday’s range. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is expected to keep interest rates unchanged as well as its commitment to maintain low interest rates until the middle of 2010. Demand for higher risk assets will be the market force driving this currency pair today.

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