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Wednesday December 29, 2004 - 14:58:30 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (29 December 2004)

The euro briefly established a fresh lifetime high vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers just below the US$ 1.3650 level before erasing gains and moving below the $1.3600 figure. Stops were reached below the $1.3595 level and the pair quickly slid below the $1.3570 level. Liquidity continues to be reduced during the holiday period with dealers citing few reasons to be buying dollars. The U.S. dollar index is now trading just above the 81.00 figure after trading around the 80.60 level earlier in the day. A break below the 80.00 figure would open up the index to all-time lows and would coincide with a move in the euro towards the psychologically-important US$ 1.4000 figure. Data released in the eurozone today saw the German GfK consumer climate index rise to 2.6 points in December from 2.4 points in November with further gains anticipated in January. The euro did not fall much yesterday in the wake of the considerably stronger-than-expected U.S. consumer confidence index that saw December’s reading escalate to 102.3 from the revised 92.6 level in November. European Central Bank policymaker Tumpel-Gugerell characterized the ECB’s interest rate levels as “appropriate” and added there “are no clear signs of a rise in domestic inflationary tension.” U.S. interest rates are now higher than EMU-12 interest rates but traders are not buying U.S. dollars for yield plays out of fear about the U.S.’s mammoth budget deficit and current account deficit. Traders await the release of U.S. existing home sales data at 1530 GMT for November. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3510 level.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥103.60 level and remained supported just above the ¥103.00 figure. With the death toll from Asia’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami now in excess of 67,000 people and rising, traders were reluctant to put on fresh long yen positions. Economists are already predicting that Japanese economic data to be released early in the New Year will be on the weak side with the Yomiuri newspaper reporting November’s coincident index will be below the “boom-or-bust” 50.0 level for the fourth consecutive month – November – when that number is released on 11 January. Traders are closely watching today’s U.S. government data regarding winter heating fuel supplies to be released at 1530 GMT. The greenback’s recent depreciation from the ¥106.00 figure to just below the ¥103.00 figure has coincided with a pullback in oil prices with February 2005 NYMEX futures trading with a $41 handle. The Nikkei 225 stock index came off 0.37% to close at ¥11,381.56. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥104.40 level. The euro scored gains vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥141.30 level and remained supported around the ¥140.15 level, a fresh lifetime high.

The British pound fell sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.9120 level after failing to pierce the $1.9340 level. Major stops were triggered below the $1.9260 and $1.9190 levels during European and North American dealing, respectively. BBA mortgage lending data released today saw mortgage lending by major U.K. banks decline to their lowest levels in some three years last month while mortgage approvals dropped to their lowest levels in nearly four years. These data follow other recent data that have pointed to a decelerating housing sector. Net mortgage lending rose just ₤4.0 billion last month – the lowest rise since January 2002. Also, approvals for mortgage refinancings declined while equity withdrawal refinancings also fell. Weaker housing data will generally lead to a lower pound given the strong role that home ownership plays in the U.K. Cable bids are seen around the $1.9080 level. The euro extended recent gains vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.7100 figure and remained supported around the ₤0.7030 level.


The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1385 level and found bids around the CHF 1.1310 level. The December Swiss KOF leading indicator fell more-than-expected, printing at 0.49 compared with expectations of a 0.68 reading. November’s reading was revised to 0.58. This suggests economic activity in six months’ time may be slower in Switzerland. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1420 level. The euro was erased most gains vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the cross tested offers around the CHF 1.5465 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5415 level.


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