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Monday December 20, 2004 - 15:02:28 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 December 2004)

The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers just below the US$ 1.3400 figure after Australasian dealers tested bids just below the $1.3300 figure. Stops were triggered above the $1.3340 level during early European dealing. Traders are talking about a volte-face in non-commercial IMM euro positioning with euro longs declining sharply in the latest week. Net euro positions now stand at a net short position of 14,542, down from 24,114 net long positions the week before and a high of 57,529 on 9 November. This represents the largest net short position since March 2000 and it is noteworthy because it suggests some weaker euro longs have been removed from the market and this may give the single currency room to move higher. IMM-watchers also note that trading may be choppy because the relatively significant level of gross positioning (36,764 gross longs and 51,306 gross shorts) remains relatively high. EU official Regling today said he is concerned with the U.S. “twin deficits” while EU’s Alumnia said “the euro is strong but its level is not substantially out of line with fundamentals,” adding the euro’s real effective exchange rate against other currencies is only marginally above its 1995-2004 average. Data released in Germany today saw November producer prices fall 0.5% m/m in November and were up 2.8% y/y. Many U.S. economic data will be released on Thursday. Euro bids are seen around the $1.3350 level.


The yen lost a modest amount of ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today in thin trading as the greenback moved above the ¥104.00 figure during Australasian dealing and capped out around the ¥104.50 level later that session. North American dealers drove the pair back below the ¥104.20 level and stops were hit below the ¥104.15 level. The big news out of Japan overnight was Finance minister Tanigaki’s presentation of a ¥82.12 trillion budget to Cabinet for the fiscal year beginning 1 April. The budget plans call for a decline in bond issuance and discretionary spending and for the sale of ¥34.39 trillion in new bonds, a decline for the first time in four years. Notably, however, Japanese government debt at the end of 2005 is estimated to escalate to a record ¥602 trillion and the ratio of central government debt to GDP is now at 151.2%, the highest among OECD countries. Also, the primary budget deficit seen in the FY 2005 budget is ¥15.95 trillion. Data released in Japan overnight saw November convenience store sales fall 1.0% y/y in November to ¥534.7 billion – the eighteenth decline in 21 months. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.23% to close at ¥11,103.42 while the TOPIX came off 0.14% to ¥1,109.76. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥104.55 level. The euro climbed higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥139.75 level and was supported around the ¥138.55 level. Stops were hit above the ¥139.35 level.


The British pound climbed higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9510 level after Australasian dealers tested bids around the $1.9365 level. Dealers largely shrugged off economic data released in the U.K. that saw public sector net borrowing stand at ₤9.4 billion during November, a record for that month and larger-than-expected. These data suggest Chancellor Brown is in danger of missing his forecast for fiscal year 2004/2005 and possibly violating his “golden rule” of balancing the budget. Other data released today saw CML November mortgage lending decline for the fourth consecutive month with the number of house purchases and the number of loans approved both registering decelerations. RICS housing market data will be released overnight. Sterling bids are cited around the $1.9430 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6875 level and was supported around the ₤0.6850 level.


The Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1465 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1580 level. Data released in Switzerland today saw Q3 industrial output excluding construction gain 3.5% y/y with orders up 5.3% and sales up 4.2%. Swiss National Bank last week decided to keep interest rates and monetary policy unchanged at their quarterly monetary policy meeting but suggested the tightening cycle will continue. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1540 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5345 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5415 level.


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