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Wednesday November 10, 2004 - 19:33:40 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (10 November 2004)

The euro was very volatile vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency reached a fresh lifetime high above the US$ 1.3000 figure before coming off sharply. Some traders claimed a Eurosystem national bank was seen selling euros right above the figure but this has yet to be confirmed. The move higher followed a brief consolidation in the wake of stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data that saw the September trade balance come in at –US$ 51.56 billion, below expectations of at least a $53 billion shortfall. Still, these numbers are not positive for the U.S. economy and the euro quickly established a fresh lifetime high. Other data released today saw weekly initial jobless claims rise 2,000 to 333,000 and continuing claims were also higher. The market subsequently probed lower levels, falling to the $1.2850 level before moving back to the $1.2900 figure during mid-morning North American dealing. As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee tightened monetary policy by raising the federal funds target rate by 25bps to 2.00%. The FOMC’s statement was virtually identical to the 21 September FOMC statement. The Fed reported “The Committee believes that, even after this action, the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative and, coupled with robust underlying growth in productivity, is providing ongoing support to economic activity. Output appears to be growing at a moderate pace despite the rise in energy prices, and labor market conditions have improved. Inflation and longer-term inflation expectations remain well contained. The Committee perceives the upside and downside risks to the attainment of both sustainable growth and price stability for the next few quarters to be roughly equal. With underlying inflation expected to be relatively low, the Committee believes that policy accommodation can be removed at a pace that is likely to be measured. Nonetheless, the Committee will respond to changes in economic prospects as needed to fulfill its obligation to maintain price stability. There is some thin market talk of a terrorist attack on the U.S. tomorrow and this gave the euro a little lift earlier in the European session. Germany’s Koch-Weser today said G20 central bankers and finance ministers will discuss FX rates when they convene next week. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2850/ 20 levels.


The yen weakened sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥106.80 level after testing bids around the ¥105.65 level. The move higher was prompted by the better-than-expected U.S. economic data and stops were hit above the ¥106.20/45 levels during the move higher. There was talk of a rogue submarine near Okinawa during Australasian dealing and some buying activity was linked to that report. Traders were seen squaring their positions ahead of the FOMC’s interest rate decision. The explosiveness with which the dollar rose suggests the market was fairly short before the data were released. Traders also cited some talk that Bank of Japan was conducting yen-selling smoothing operations around the ¥105.80 level but this has yet to be substantiated. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.27% to close at ¥10,994.96 while the TOPIX finished up 0.41%. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥107.25 level. The euro appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥138.00 figure, hitting stops above the ¥136.70 and ¥137.50 levels in the process. In Chinese news, a Chinese Futures Association official said China needs to develop a derivatives market because “Increasingly liberalized global capital flows and China's intended shift from the de facto dollar-yuan peg to a more flexible forex rate means that the risks of fluctuations in the exchange rate are rising. The market now desperately needs some financial derivatives to hedge against forex risk, and the development of a forex futures market, including forex futures and options trading, is becoming a task of the first priority.”


The British pound receded vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8410 level after reversing around the $1.8615 level. Bank of England released its Quarterly Inflation Report today in which it upgraded its GDP forecast by around 0.5% to account for the weaker sterling on a trade-weighted basis. Generally, the report was more dovish than many market participants anticipated. CPI projections saw a slight increase in the central bank’s estimates of future price pressure. The BoE made it clear that there are some downside risks to growth thus future economic data will be key. Many traders had expected a renewed sense of hawkishness in the BoE’s statement and the lack of one gave the market some scope to push cable lower. BoE Governor King’s remarks were basically muted following the report’s release. These data make it probable the central bank will not tighten policy at the December MPC meeting. The euro established a fresh multi-month high vis-à-vis the British pound today as the cross tested offers just above the £0.7000 figure.


The Swiss franc gained some ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback spiked lower to the CHF 1.1700 figure, its lowest level since January 1996. The move coincided with the euro’s psychological test of the $1.3000 figure. Bottom-hunters lifted the pair back above the CHF 1.1800 figure and quickly tested the CHF 1.1850 level. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1870 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5210 level after failing to get above the CHF 1.5275 level.


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