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Tuesday December 14, 2004 - 19:24:37 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (14 December 2004)

The euro was little changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency challenged offers around the US$ 1.3335 level and remained supported around the $1.3280 level. The pair traded in a technical range related to the recent USD correction ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee’s interest rate decision. As expected, the FOMC decided to raise its federal funds target rate by 25bps to 2.25%. The Fed reported “The Committee believes that, even after this action, the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative and, coupled with robust underlying growth in productivity, is providing ongoing support to economic activity. Output appears to be growing at a moderate pace despite the earlier rise in energy prices, and labor market conditions continue to improve gradually. Inflation and longer-term inflation expectations remain well contained. The Committee perceives the upside and downside risks to the attainment of both sustainable growth and price stability for the next few quarters to be roughly equal. With underlying inflation expected to be relatively low, the Committee believes that policy accommodation can be removed at a pace that is likely to be measured. Nonetheless, the Committee will respond to changes in economic prospects as needed to fulfill its obligation to maintain price stability.” The FOMC’s statement retained the “measured pace” language that is likely to disappear in 2005 if the Fed accelerates its current tightening cycle. Also, the FOMC announced it will hereinafter accelerate the publication of its minutes from six weeks to three weeks, starting with the release of today’s FOMC minutes on 4 January 2005. Traders were on the seats of their chairs to see if the Fed would include the word “measured” in its policy statement to steer interest rate expectations. Traders dumped some euros after the release of October trade balance data that showed the U.S.’s trade deficit swell to an all-time high of US$ 55.5 billion. Imports jumped to their highest levels on record and the surge in crude prices also contributed to the rise in the deficit. Notably, however, exported notched their strongest month on record. The trade deficit with China – a politically-contentious issue – reached an all-time high of US$ 16.8 billion in October. German Wise Man Wiegard spoke about the possibility of ECB intervention today saying it “should be considered if the euro continues to rise sharply.” German Economy Minister Clement said the euro at these levels represents a “burden and risk” for the EMU-12 economy. In other eurozone news, Bank of France upped its Q4 GDP forecast to 0.8% from 0.6%. Euro bids are seen around the $1.3235 level.


The yen lost some ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.30 level and finding bids around the ¥104.60 level. Traders did not let the paid wander far ahead of the FOMC’s interest rate decision with technicians noting the daily bar is an inside bar. Dealers were also reluctant to put on many new positions ahead of tonight’s quarterly tankan report. Most forecasts predict a pullback in corporate sentiment and the greenback could derive some support from a lower number. Data released in Japan today saw November corporate bankruptcies off 2.6% y/y, the 23rd consecutive monthly decline. Also, Tokyo department store sales receded 5.9% y/y in November to ¥165.6 billion. There are rumours in the market that Bank of Japan will lower its assessment of the economy when their monthly report is released on Friday. BoJ last lowered its assessment of the Japanese economy in November. Economy Minister Takenaka conceded the government has not yet decided on a growth target for the next fiscal year starting in April but market reports suggest GDP growth of around 1.9% is what the government is anticipating. In contrast, private think-tanks are predicting economic expansion of +1.2%. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.17% to close at ¥10,915.58 while the TOPIX gained 1.26% to close at ¥1,099.55. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥105.60 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥140.10 level after remaining supported around the ¥139.30 level. Stops were hit above the ¥139.90 level during North American dealing. In Chinese news, the Chinese government reported foreign direct investment climbed 34.36% y/y to US$ 135.04 billion in the first eleven months of 2004.


The British pound retraced most of its intraday losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9195 level and tested offers above the $1.9280 level during North American dealing. Cable had been bid higher on account of a +1.5% y/y increase in November headline CPI, up from +1.2% y/y in October. These data were stronger-than-expected and represented the highest level since June. These data, however, are unlikely to shift Bank of England interest rate expectations too far north as the market wants to digest tomorrow’s labour market numbers and Thursday’s retail sales number. Cable bids are cited around the $1.9190 level. The euro tested offers around the ₤0.6930 level and was supported around the ₤0.6905 level.


The Swiss franc was little changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1565 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1520 level. The range in Swissy was uncharacteristically narrow today with many dealers on hold ahead of the FOMC interest rate decision. Some market participants are reluctant to put on new positions ahead of Thursday’s Swiss National Bank interest rate decision. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1575 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5345 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5380 level.


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