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Friday November 19, 2004 - 19:05:14 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (19 November 2004)



The euro appreciated to fresh lifetime highs vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3070 level. Traders were glued to a speech given by Fed Chairman Greenspan, European Central Bank President Trichet, and Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Iwata in Frankfurt ahead of the G20 meetings this weekend in Berlin. Greenspan shocked the markets by commenting on the dollar, saying “It seems persuasive that, given the size of the U.S. current account deficit, a diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point.” Greenspan made that remark in the context of speaking about the U.S. budget deficit and current account deficit but the mere suggestion of diminished demand for dollars saw the greenback fall precipitously. Over the past several years, Greenspan has declined comment on the dollar during Congressional testimony in favour of having the U.S. Treasury talk about policy, hence today’s comments were jolting to the markets. He also said “Current account deficits, even large ones, have been defused without significant consequences, (but) we cannot become complacent…Alternative approaches to reducing our current account imbalance by reducing domestic investment or inducing recession to suppress consumption obviously are not constructive long-term proposals…We see only limited indications that the large U.S. current account deficit is meeting financing resistance. Yet, net claims against residents of the United States cannot continue to increase forever in international portfolios at their recent pace.” Greenspan did not comment on a particular dollar level or U.S. interest rate policy but his remarks were market-moving. Most dealers do not expect any mention of FX policy in the G20 communiqué, but German finance minister Eichel said “Within the troika - i.e. Japan, America and Europe - we'll have to sit down together and try to reach a common solution (to exchange rate issues). But that is a matter that is not for the public. Exchange rates are not discussed in public.” It is clear Germany and some other European countries will press china to expedite its liberalization of its yuan currency. Eichel added “In order to make the adjustment process easier, greater exchange rate flexibility is generally desirable. In this connection, I welcome China's move to create the conditions for more exchange rate flexibility, particularly through reforms in its financial sector." Eichel’s comments are indicative of Europe’s catch-22 problem: a stronger euro is a defense against oil-induced inflationary shocks but makes it more difficult to export goods from the eurozone. Data released in France today saw Q3 GDP come in at +0.1%, down from +0.7% with 0.5% shaved off on account of the decline in foreign trade. Traders await the latest IMM data to see how accounts are positioned with the dollar. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3000/1.2950 levels.

¥

The yen appreciated significantly vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥102.80 level, its lowest level in 2004. Major stops were hit below the ¥103.50 option barrier that many dealers have been citing for days and this pushed the pair to levels not seen since April 2000. Japanese officials continue to verbally intervene to try to arrest the yen’s appreciation but in the wake of a broad-based negative dollar sentiment environment, their attempts are futile. Bank of Japan’s Iwata, Fed Chairman Greenspan, and ECB President Trichet spoke in Frankfurt today but the Fed chief avoided talk about the dollar, paving the way for yen bulls to run. The Nikkei 225 index gained 0.42 points to close at ¥11,082.84. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥134.20 level being unable to get through the ¥135.25 level. The British pound fell sharply vis-à-vis the yen today as sterling tested bids around the ¥191.05 level, its lowest level since 6 April 2004. The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the yen today as the Swiss franc tested bids around the ¥88.60 level after peaking around the ¥89.25 level.

 

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