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Thursday December 9, 2004 - 15:05:47 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (9 December 2004)

The euro depreciated further vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency failed to get above the US$ 1.3365 level and slumped back below the $1.3300 figure during European and early North American dealing. The pair traded as low as the $1.3265 level during late Australasian dealing. European Central Bank President Trichet refrained from commenting about the euro today but was critical of plans to alter the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact and the likelihood of higher eurozone interest rates. EMU-12 monetary officials have been tight-lipped about the euro’s 250-point pullback from lifetime highs. Data released in Germany today saw industrial output climb +0.6% m/m in October, stronger-than-expected. The German economy remains bleak, however, and continues to be a drag on pan-eurozone economic growth. Traders are still talking about President Bush’s decision to retain Treasury Secretary Snow and the effects this could have on the U.S.’s “strong dollar policy” that is perceived to be little more than hollow words. One school of thought suggests the recent scuttlebutt in the press about Snow not being asked to stay on could work to Bush’s favour by not having Snow seem too critical of the massive U.S. budget deficits during the upcoming budget season. Data released in the U.S. today weekly initial jobless claims rise +8,000 to +357,000 while continuing claims were up 91,000 to 2.796 million. Also, import prices rose 0.2% last month, the fifth consecutive monthly rise but the slowest pace since June. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3220 level.


The yen extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥ 104.75 level and was supported around the ¥ 103.85 level. The ¥104.00 figure was a technical support level related to the recent ¥102.40/¥105.00 range. Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi verbally intervened today saying “a rapid depreciation of the dollar is not welcome” and added it is “appropriate for foreign exchange rates to be decided by the force of the market.” Oddly, Koizumi said “he wonders about intervention” and dealers weren’t sure how to interpret that remark. His comments followed a meeting in Tokyo with German Chancellor Schroeder who said “sometimes you can learn from Japan and its excellent monetary policy.” This was Schroeder’s subtle dig at the European Central Bank but he was tight-lipped about intervention. On the surface, it appears the prospect of joint intervention involving the eurozone and Japan has now diminished. Data released in Japan overnight saw October machinery orders down 3.1% m/m and down 9.9% y/y while the October trade balance came in around ¥1.4 trillion. The Nikkei 225 stock index fell 1.5% to close at ¥10,776.63. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥105.20 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥139.25 level and was supported around the ¥138.50 level. In Chinese news, it was reported China’s FX reserves rose more than US$25 billion in October to $540 billion+ in what some say was the largest rise on record. The U.S. Treasury will release TIC data on 15 December and traders will be interested to see if China continues to buy U.S. debt. Notably, China’s holdings of U.S. Treasuries grew by only US$ 16.4 billion in the January – September period. Around 64.9% of yesterday’s US$ 15 billion U.S. five-year Treasury note auction was purchased by indirect bidders – likely central banks of foreign countries.


The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9140 level after trading around the $1.9390 level during Australasian dealing. Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee kept its repo rate unchanged at 4.75% today for the fourth consecutive month, as expected. Traders will review the minutes from today’s meeting in a couple of weeks and it is highly likely that neither a rate hike nor a rate cut were contemplated. Data released in the U.K. today saw the October global trade position worsen with the recent of the world as the trade deficit reached its highest level since January. October imports came in at ₤21.57 billion while exports fell to ₤16.217 billion. Cable bids are seen around the $1.9120 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6945 level and was supported around the ₤0.6885 level.


The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1570 level and remained supported around the CHF 1.1465 level. The pair traded at a high around the CHF 1.1635 level yesterday before briefly coming off. Most dealers believe Swiss National Bank will not tighten policy at their final meeting of the year on 16 December. Traders await tomorrow’s Swiss October retail sales numbers. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1615 level. The euro remained bid vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5350 level on the cross.


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