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Tuesday December 7, 2004 - 14:19:19 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (7 December 2004)

The euro established a fresh lifetime high vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today despite an increase in rhetoric from eurozone officials. The single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3470 level after Australasian traders took the pair lower and challenged bids around the $1.3390 level. The pair got a lift from a stronger-than-expected December ZEW survey of investor confidence that printed at 14.4, ending five months of declines in that data series. This follows yesterday’s stronger-than-expected jump in EMU-12 retail sales. The big story in Europe was a joint warning from the ECB and Ecofin finance ministers regarding the euro’s strength. Policymakers warned “all major countries and economic areas must play their part more actively in reducing global imbalances by putting in place the appropriate economic policies.” Some dealers believe eurozone officials are setting the tables to prepare for concerted intervention with Japanese monetary officials. Another story that hurt the dollar today was a WSJ Europe report that questioned the sustainability of the U.S. government’s AAA bond rating. ECB policymaker Tumpel-Gugerell today said “While we can debate whether the swings observed in foreign exchange rates reflect changes in underlying fundamentals in a reasonable way, I believe you would agree with me that excessive volatility and sharp moves in foreign exchange markets are not welcome. This is because they could, for instance, adversely influence investment decisions by economic agents and the efficient allocation of resources in an economy.” Also, Belgian finance minister Reynders called on the U.S. government to correct the imbalances in the U.S. economy while ECB’s Issing said “Americans know (the imbalances) cannot be sustained.” Issing also said inflation is too high in the eurozone. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3385 level.


The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥102.40 level after Australasian dealers took the pair to the ¥103.35 level. The yen gained ground even though Japanese economic data released overnight continued to weaken to the point where Japan’s economy could soon be deemed recessionary. Household spending came off 2.0% in October, defying expectations of a 0.5% decline as consumer demand fell for the second consecutive month. Also, the index of leading economic indicators dropped to 20% in October from September’s 27.3% level. Notably, this was the second month in a row below the boom-or-bust 50.0 level and does not bode well for Japan’s economy. The yen, however, has managed to strengthen despite these bad numbers. The prospect of joint intervention between Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank may have increased yesterday following the strong rebuke from eurozone officials. Finance minister Tanigaki said concerns about the weak dollar are “understandable” and said exchange rates that “do not stably reflect economic fundamentals are unwelcome.” Revised Q3 economic data will be released tonight and traders will see if the economy can build upon the preliminary reading of +0.1% q/q and +0.3% y/y. A new calculation method could see the annualized rate fall to -0.1% y/y. One bright spot was last week’s better-than-expected Q3 capital expenditure report but this may not be enough to improve tonight’s number. Japan’s government downgraded its view on the current economic situation for the first time in nearly two years, saying “current economic conditions are easing and require a careful watch going forward.” BoJ’s Iwata was on the wires today saying he expects Japanese corporations to increase capital spending on new equipment and factories in 2005. Other data released overnight saw November foreign exchange reserves rise US$ 2.21 billion to a record $840.09 billion, the fourteenth rise in fifteen months. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥103.40 level. The euro erased most of its intraday gains and losses vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥138.40 level and was supported around the ¥137.55 level. In other Asian news, Taiwan’s foreign exchange reserves climbed US$4.1 billion m/m to stand at US$ 239.129 billion at the end of November, rendering Taiwan still the world’s third-largest holder of FX reserves.


The British pound rocketed to a new multi-year high today, trading above the psychologically-important US$ 1.9500 figure for the first time since September 1992. Dealers are reporting that Asian central banks are sitting with bids to buy sterling on dips and options traders report that some large $1.9450 strikes rolled off yesterday, paving the way for a stronger pound. Some exotic options triggers may be in place above the $1.9500 figure. Cable bids are cited around the $1.9350 level. The euro came off modestly vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6920 level and was supported around the ₤0.6895 level.


The Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1340 level after the pair spiked lower during early Australasian dealing. The pair did not reach a recent low even though the euro established a fresh lifetime high vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar. This is leading to speculation that Swiss National Bank and/ or Bank for International Settlements may be trying to support the pair. November unemployment data will be released tomorrow and Federal Reserve Governor Bies is scheduled to speak in Geneva at 1500 GMT today. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1430 level. The euro was slightly weaker vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5265 level and had problems moving through the CHF 1.5315 level.


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AA JP- Bank of Japan
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