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Tuesday October 12, 2004 - 14:58:18 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (12 October 2004)

The euro extended yesterday’s losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2290 level after encountering tough resistance around the $1.2390 level during Australasian dealing. There a few issues traders are talking about today to explain the euro’s downturn. First, the German ZEW research institute reported its German economic expectations index for October fell 7.1 points to +31.3, weaker-than-expected. Second, French industrial production was off 1.9% in August with the July growth rate downwardly revised to zero from +0.2%. These data suggest the European Central Bank may not be in any significant hurry to raise interest rates and tighten monetary policy. The German data in particular suggests that economic growth in the eurozone’s largest economy may not be rosy during the current fourth quarter. Third, traders went long dollars yesterday following yesterday’s passage of the U.S. Homeland Investment Act, legislation that is designed to allow U.S. corporations to repatriate overseas assets to the U.S. at a reduced tax rate. This has led to speculation that dollars will need to be bought as part of the repatriation because the reduced tax rate is 5.25% compared with the normal rate of 35%. Some economists have privately been estimating that this legislation may stimulate some US$ 50 – 100 billion in dollar-buying by multinational U.S. companies with profits overseas. Traders await the release of many U.S. economic data on Thursday and Friday. Euro bids are cited around the ¥135.00/¥134.80 levels.


The yen came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥110.10 level after Australasian dealers tested bids around the ¥109.30 level. The move higher was precipitated by a statement from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange in which policymakers said it would be an “unwise move” to revalue the Chinese RMB now, dampening the recent heightened speculation that China would widen the band around its dollar peg by at least 3%. Chinese officials called such conjecture “groundless.” Recently, the Bush administration has pressured China into relaxing its rigid FX regime in an attempt to curry favour with manufacturing constituencies. One school of thought suggests a Chinese revaluation will translate into less pressure on the Japanese to keep the yen artificially weakened. Another reason why the yen weakened today was another spike in the price of NYMEX crude futures with the front month reaching a high of $54.45. Japan is heavily dependent on oil imports and the spike in crude diminishes the spending capabilities of Japanese consumers. The Nikkei 225 stock index came off 1.3% today. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.35/ 20 levels. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.00 figure after testing offers around the ¥135.75 level. Stops were reached below the ¥135.50 level during the downturn.


The British pound sustained casualties vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7850 level after firm resistance prevented the pair from again challenging the psychologically-important US$ 1.8000 figure. Data released in the U.K. today saw September consumer price inflation rise 1.1% y/y, down from August’s +1.3% y/y pace and below expectations of a +1.4% y/y increase. This annualized rate was the slowest since March and is the latest piece of economic evidence to suggest Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee may not change rates through the end of the year. If the markets believe the Fed may continue to raise rates – albeit perhaps at a diminished pace – sterling could be pressured because the interest rate differential between the U.K. and U.S. may narrow. Traders await comments from BoE Governor King later in the session. Cable bids are cited around the $1.7850/ 35 levels. The euro traded in a narrow range vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6900 figure and was supported around the £0.6875 level.


The Swiss franc extended losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2605 level after testing bids around the CHF 1.2500 figure. Stops were triggered above the CHF 1.2540 level during the pair’s ascent. Dealers cite dollar bids around the CHF 1.2550/35 levels. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5465 level after failing to gain much ground above the CHF 1.5500 figure.


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