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Wednesday December 15, 2004 - 16:33:15 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (15 December 2004)

The euro gained solid ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as traders pushed the single currency back above the US$ 1.3400 figure on news that foreign demand for U.S. assets declined more-than-expected. The pair tested bids around the $1.3260 level during Australasian dealing and never looked back. The U.S. Treasury TIC capital flows data for October saw total net capital flows recede to US$ 48.1 billion in October from an upwardly-revised US$ 67.5 billion in September. This was significantly below forecasts and printed below the psychologically-important US$ 55.5 billion level – around the U.S.’s current monthly trade deficit total. Purchases of U.S. assets by foreign central banks rose slightly. These weak data spotlight tomorrow’s U.S. current account data for Q3. Traders will note that the U.S. dollar has depreciated more than ten figures on concerns about the growing U.S. deficits and a concern the U.S. may not be able to finance these deficits with foreign demand. Fed Chairman Greenspan alluded to this possibility in comments made in Berlin last month and today’s data reinforce the notion that such a scenario is indeed possible. Traders are not really talking anymore about the Fed’s decision to raise the federal funds target by 25bps yesterday but are discussing the accelerated pace of transparency the markets will benefit from by having the FOMC’s meeting minutes released three weeks earlier than normal. Canadian Prime Minister Martin today said he is concerned by the “huge level of deficits” in the U.S. IMF’s Rajan also warned of the “growing risk” that investors may lessen demand for U.S. assets. Other data released in the U.S. today saw the New York Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing Index rise to 29.9 in December from a revised 18.9 in November, an unexpected gain. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3360 level.


The yen moved sharply higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around ¥104.05 level after failing to get above the ¥105.75 level during Australasian dealing. The big story of the day was a better-than-expected December quarterly tankan report released by Bank of Japan. The tankan’s main diffusion index for big manufacturers’ sentiment came in at +22, down from September’s +26 level but better than many forecasts. Upward revisions to capital expenditure plans also supported the yen. Corporate profits continue to be strong despite this pullback in corporate sentiment thus today’s tankan was a reprieve from the generally negative Japanese economic data that have been released lately. Other data released today saw orders for machine tools rise 5.2% m/m in November to ¥113.3 billion and this represented a 48.4% y/y surge higher. Also, October leading economic indicators were revised down to 18.2 from the preliminary reading of 20.0. Traders are also watching January NYMEX crude futures that are currently trading around $42.21. OPEC President Yusgiantoro today asked Japan to help ensure there is a “security of demand” for oil among industrialized countries. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.37% today to close at ¥10,956.46. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.10 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥139.30 level and was capped around the ¥140.40 level. The 100-hour moving average provided some technical support during North American dealing. In Chinese news, a political minion of German Chancellor Schroeder said it is not the correct time for China to join the G8. In other Chinese news, the press is reporting the Chinese government set the 2005 inflation ceiling at 4%.


The British pound moved sharply higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9450 after trading around the $1.9180 level during Australasian dealing. The acute move higher was precipitated by an unexpected 3,400 decrease in November unemployment to 833,200. Also, average earnings – excluding bonuses – rose 4.4% in the three months to October. The last time this pay rate was higher was January 2002 and this will invigorate the debate about a possible monetary tightening by Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. The 4.4% rate is 0.1% below the MPC’s perceived 4.5% line-in-the-sand for this data series. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.9360 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6920 level and was supported around the ₤0.6890 level.


The Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1385 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1575 level. Traders await tomorrow’s quarterly monetary policy meeting by Swiss National Bank with most dealers expecting no change in policy. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1440 level. The euro tested bids around the CHF 1.5275 level after testing offers around the CHF 1.5370 level.


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