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Monday December 6, 2004 - 15:07:37 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (6 December 2004)

The euro traded in a very narrow range vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3455 level and was supported above the $1.3415 level. Traders are closely watching any comments before or after the Ecofin EMU-12 finance ministers meeting later today. Comments about the euro’s exchange rate and possible intervention remain on the forefront of traders’ minds. New French finance minister Gaymard today said “the slide (of the U.S. dollar) must not continue, and there needs to be a better management of these rates at the international level.” German newspaper Boersenzeitung today suggested the U.S. Treasury would not buy dollars until the euro rises to $1.45. If true, this intimated U.S. monetary authorities may countenance any continued orderly decline in the greenback. Bundesbank’s and ECB’s Weber said short-term moves in exchange rates are “highly unwelcome” but did not suggest ECB intervention was imminent. A Bank for International Settlements report released yesterday reported that OPEC countries have already started to reduce their share of deposits in dollars by more than 13% over the last three years, favouring the euro. Not many U.S. data will be released this week with PPI scheduled for later this week. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3370 level.


The yen lost a small amount of ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥102.55 level after finding a floor around the ¥101.90 level. Japanese spokesman Hosokawa verbally intervened overnight, pledging “bold action” to counter the dollar’s decline. These comments kept the pair from falling too far below the ¥102.00 figure. Traders briefly pored over a report from the U.S. Treasury that concluded none of the U.S.’s major trading partners manipulated their currencies in 2004 to gain competitive advantage. While some manufacturing companies would heavily argue that this is incorrect – citing Japan in Q1 and China as prime examples of manipulators – it is likely any testimony from Treasury Secretary Snow to this effect will reinforce this message. The report did conclude, however, that “the risk of an inflationary boom followed by the hard landing that has characterized past Chinese cycles remains” on account of China’s rigid FX policy. Germany’s Boersenzeitung newspaper cited a U.S. Treasury report that suggests the U.S. government expects the dollar to trade around the ¥90-95 level in H1 2005. The Nikkei 225 stock index came off 0.84% to close at ¥10,981.96, below the psychologically-important ¥11,000 figure. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥102.60 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥137.75 level and remained supported above the ¥137.05 level.


The British pound was little changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9445 level and was supported above the $1.9390 level. Data released in the U.K. today saw October manufacturing production fall 0.1% m/m and 0.5% y/y, below forecasts, while industrial production came off 0.1% m/m, defying expectations of a 0.5% rise. Other data released today were disappointing with the NIESR reporting that U.K. GDP increased a mere 0.4% in the three months to November from the previous three months. This is below the estimated 0.6% trend growth rate. Cable bids are cited around the $1.9360 level. The euro made a lunge to the ₤0.6930 level but could not sustain its gains and fell back to the ₤0.6910 level – a narrow trading range for the day.


The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1380 level and remained supported just above the CHF 1.1300 figure. Swiss National Bank President Roth spoke today and said “The combination of weaker economic growth and high oil prices could prompt the major central banks to maintain for now their expansionary monetary policy stance. normalization of monetary policy could be delayed, keeping interest rates relatively low.” Traders interpreted this as a fairly strong message that SNB is likely to keep monetary policy unchanged when the central bank has their year-ending and quarterly policy meeting on 16 December. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1420 level. The euro had a strong day vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5280 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5205 level.


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