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Friday November 12, 2004 - 15:18:36 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (12 November 2004)

The euro was little changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency remained supported around the US$ 1.2885 level but failed to get through the $1.2940 level. Data released in the eurozone today saw Q3 EMU-12 GDP consistent with expectations, up +0.3% q/q and +1.9% y/y. This was overshadowed, however, by a downgrade in the European Commission’s Q4 growth forecast to +0.2% q/q and +0.6% y/y from +0.3% q/q and +0.7% y/y. These are simply the latest data that indicate economic growth in the eurozone is anemic. Also, France’s INSEE reduced its 2004 GDP forecast for France. Today’s data were expected given Germany’s weak GDP showing yesterday. Data released in the U.S. today saw headline October retail sales come in at +0.2%, better-than-expected, while the ex-autos figure came in at +0.9%, also above expectations. September’s retail sales data were upwardly revised. These data suggest a possible upward revision in Q3 GDP data and are good prospects for a decent Q4 GDP number. Other data released in the U.S. today saw preliminary November University of Michigan consumer sentiment exceed expectations at 95.5 while September business inventories and sales were up less-than-expected at +0.1% and +0.3%, respectively. Traders await the release of this afternoon’s minutes from the 21 September FOMC meeting. It will be interesting to see how transitory the Fed viewed the spike in oil prices in early Q4 and whether they discussed a pause in their current “measured pace” of removing monetary policy accommodation. Noted Fed-watcher Berry today suggested that the fed funds futures market is ahead of itself and the Fed is more evenly balanced regarding the possibility of a December rate hike than the financial markets currently believe. Euro bids are cited around the $1.1860/30 levels.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥ 105.75 level despite relatively weak Japanese GDP data. July-September quarterly economic growth came in at a mere +0.1% q/q and +0.3% annualized, defying expectations of a stronger number. The pair rallied to the ¥106.80 level on the news but soon reversed course and moved back into the ¥105 handle. Traders attributed the reversal to a Nikkei story that suggested the Bush administration would tolerate at least a 15% depreciation of the U.S. dollar vis-à-vis the yen. Many traders were left scratching their heads after the number because this story was not well publicized. Private-sector capital expenditures came in at -0.2% q/q while private consumption came in at +0.9% q/q, up from Q2’s +0.8% increase. It is important to note that final private demand has been a positive contributor to Japanese GDP for at least two quarters now and this is bullish for the Japanese economy. Dealers continue to probe the ¥105 handle to determine whether and where the government may intervene by selling yen. Chartists continue to see ¥103.40 as a level the government must protect to avoid a run at parity but the unknown remains the government’s tolerance for pain above this level. MoF’s Watanabe was quoted as saying he “saw fast movements that have deviated from U.S. economic indicators.” Japanese officials have ratcheted up the verbal intervention in recent days. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 1.60% to close at ¥11,019.98, its best close in one week, while the TOPIX was up 1.18%. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥105.75/50 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥137.85 level and then moved lower to the ¥136.65 level.


The British pound retraced most of its intraday gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8500 figure before moving back to the $1.8420 level during North American dealing. U.S. names were seen on the bid for cable during Australasian dealing. The CBI manufacturing trends survey was sterling-negative and traders talked about an M&A deal involving HSBC and Korea First Bank. Some controversy was noted in the U.K. today when a House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report identified errors in the MPC’s methods for forecasting inflation. The committee reported “systematic and persistent” errors that may have led the MPC to keeping inflation rates too high. Cable stops are cited above the $1.8520 level with bids seen around the $1.8400 figure. The euro tested resistance around the £0.7015 level before backing off and testing bids around the £0.6985 level.


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