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Friday December 17, 2004 - 16:23:27 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 December 2004)

The euro was confined to a relatively tight range vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3315 level during European dealing and spiked down to the $1.3225 level during North American dealing before staging a recovery. Data released in the U.S. today saw November consumer price inflation moderate following the acute spike in October retail price pressures. CPI rose +0.2% m/m in November while the core rate also grew +0.2% for the second consecutive month. Dealers report increased year-end profit-taking as one factor behind the euro’s sell-off and liquidity is said to be thinning quickly as the holidays approach. Data released in the eurozone today saw the December German Ifo business confidence indicator rise to 96.2, defying expectations of a decline, and much better than November’s 94.1 level – its lowest level in fourteen months. Despite these data, many economists still see the German economy as moving sideways. Italian data released today saw October industrial orders rise 0.4% m/m and fall 1.1% y/y. Other data released today saw EMU-12 industrial output fall 0.5% m/m in October but gained 1.0% y/y. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3190 level.


The yen moved off of intraday highs vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback reclaimed the ¥104.50 level during North American dealing after testing bids around the ¥104.10 level. The pair was mostly offered during Australasian and European dealing and was unable to get above the ¥104.75 level. Former MoF FX official Gyoten said joint intervention between Japan and the eurozone to halt the dollar’s slide is “unlikely” and added “the ECB’s stance on the euro is unclear.” Gyoten also added he does not expect the Japanese government to reduce its holdings of U.S. Treasuries. Gyoten’s remarks contrast with comments made by MoF’s Watanabe earlier this year wherein he suggested “harmonized action” may be enacted between Japan and Europe. Economy minister Takenaka today said “The latest tankan survey confirmed the strength of the corporate sector, and that Japan's macroeconomy is still in a recovery trend. Therefore, what is the most important thing for us to do is to help spread the strength of the corporate sector to the household sector, and to achieve a sustained recovery.” Bank of Japan released its monthly assessment today and reported “Japan’s economy is expected to continue to recover.” It noted “business sentiment has become cautions in some industries. Interestingly, Bank of Japan Governor Fukui said a shortage in some input materials like steel is affecting Japan’s recovery but he lauded the “continued growth in corporate profits and the strength of capital spending.” Fukui also said the latest tankan survey “endorses his view that recovery momentum remains intact.” The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.41% to close at ¥11,078.32. The euro was confined to a fairly narrow range vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.35 and tested offers around the ¥138.85 level.


The British pound traded in another wide range vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9445 level and was supported around the $1.9280 level. Sterling spiked lower below the $1.9325 level during North American dealing bit soon recovered and moved back to the $1.9380 level. Bank of England released a quarterly economic bulletin today in which said overall household debt is above ₤1 trillion but added “relatively few households are close to a stressed position.” Perhaps more interestingly, BoE released a report about FX activity in the U.K. and concluded that FX turnover has increased more than 50% there since April 2001 and added the U.K. commands 31.3% of all global FX turnover. Cable bids are seen around the $1.9250 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6840 level.


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