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Tuesday December 21, 2004 - 14:24:03 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (21 December 2004)

The euro was little-changed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3350 level and was supported around the $1.3410 level. Liquidity continues to dwindle ahead of the Christmas holidays with many desks reporting thin conditions and skeleton crews staffs. Some traders report a “sell dollar” mentality is still the dominant theme in the market while others are a little more bullish and believe the recent U.S. dollar correction has not ran its course. The lack of consensus suggests choppy trading may be the theme during the holidays. Ifo’s Sinn said the European Central Bank should intervene to weaken the euro and it was reporting that Ifo reduced its 2005 German growth forecast to 1.2% from 1.5%. Data released in the eurozone today saw Italian consumer confidence recede in December while French consumer spending gained 1.5% m/m and 6.5% y/y. Also, EMU-12 trade data were released and they evidenced a rise to a surplus of €5.5 billion in October from €2.5 billion in September. U.S. data released today saw retail chain store sales up 1.6% w/w in the week ending 18 December. These data are all-important as a pullback in retail sales during the holiday period would be negative for the spending-driven U.S. economy. New Richmond Fed President Lacker yesterday said a weaker dollar should not rekindle inflation and will help to boost exports and limit imports. Traders await the core PCE index on Thursday with many forecasts expecting a mere 0.1% gain for last month. Euro bids are seen around the $1.3350 level.


The yen weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥ 104.45 level and was supported around the ¥ 103.70 level. Traders are still talking about the fiscal year 2005/2006 budget unveiled yesterday with a Jiji reporting reporting Japanese business leaders are concerned that the planned fiscal tightening will have a negative impact on the economy. Economy minister Takenaka said the proposed budget said “the improvement in the primary balance is the key to reforming state finances.” Traders have been used to relatively significant government spending and supplementary budgets in Japan during the past several years thus it is interesting to see how successful this budget will be and whether or not the restrained spending approach has an impact on the yen. Stops were triggered above the ¥104.30 level today, representing a technical resistance level with technicians also eyeing the ¥104.60 level. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.20% to close at ¥11,125.92 while the TOPIX gained 0.59% to close at ¥1,116.34. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.90 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers just below the ¥134.00 figure and was supported around the technical support level of ¥133.90.


The British pound came off sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as traders reacted to a RICS survey released overnight that reported 48% more chartered surveyors reported a fall in prices in the three months to November. This follows a Rightmove survey released yesterday that reported asking prices have been dropping and decelerating CML data released yesterday. Cable tested offers around the US$ 1.9490 level before backtracking and reaching bids around the $1.9315 level. Stops were hit on the move through the $1.9345 level. The big risk for the U.K. economy in 2005 remains a burst of the potential bubble in the housing market. Cable bids are seen around the $1.9280/20 levels. The euro reclaimed some recent lost ground vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6930 level and was supported around the ₤0.6870 level.


The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1540 level and was supported just below the CHF 1.1480 level. European dealers pushed the pair through the 100-hour moving average, triggering stops just above the CHF 1.1510 level, but the rally faded and dealers pushed the pair back to the CHF 1.1500 figure. Data released in Switzerland today saw November producer prices ease 0.1% m/m and import prices came off 0.6%. Also, Switzerland’s trade surplus climbed to CHF 1.260 billion in November from CHF 1.215 billion in October, reflecting a 14% y/y increase in exports. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1560 level. The euro was little changed vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5415 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5380 level.


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