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Monday January 3, 2005 - 14:44:55 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (3 January 2005)



The euro started the New Year with some losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3385 level after running out of steam around the $1.3580 level during European dealing. The move to intraday highs followed the release of EMU-12 manufacturing PMI that saw a rise to 51.4 in December from November’s 50.4 reading. This bucked expectations of a continued decline and is important because it suggests the sector is handling the euro’s relative strength successfully. Germany’s manufacturing PMI rose to 51.7 from 49.9 while the EMU-12 new orders and output components registered gains for the first time in five months. Notably, however, the employment index came in at 48.3 – the 43rd consecutive month of contraction below the “boom-or-bust” 50.0 level. Liquidity was said to be thin today on account of the weekend’s New Year’s holiday. More active conditions are expected from tomorrow. The highlight of the week is likely to be Friday’s U.S. December non-farm payrolls data with some very early whispers predicting solid gains. One major theme in 2005 will be to what extent eurozone policymakers – both Ecofin finance ministers and European Central Bank officials – countenance the euro and its gains. The new euro spokesman for the “Eurogroup,” Luxembourg’s Juncker, recently said it is not his role to comment on the strength of the euro in public. Without a consensus on the euro, euro-selling intervention, especially joint intervention with the U.S. or Japan, seems unlikely for now. Traders look forward to a G10 meeting in Switzerland next weekend and February’s G7 meeting. ECB President Trichet will have an opportune forum to speak about the euro at both meetings. The dominant theme, however, will remain the U.S.’s mammoth budget and current account deficits in 2005. A widening of these imbalances could easily see the euro notch further gains. Traders await November construction spending and December ISM manufacturing in the U.S. today. Euro bids are seen around the US$ 1.3360 level.

¥

The yen opened 2005 with some losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback tested offers around the ¥103.45 level during Australasian dealing before moving to intraday lows around the ¥102.40 level during European dealing. Tokyo financial markets remain closed for the New Year holiday thus the pair took its cues from the dollar’s widespread gains overnight. Some dominant themes will direct yen trading this year. First, traders will continue to remain cautious of downside risks – namely Bank of Japan yen-selling intervention – as they probe for stops and try to test 2004’s low of ¥101.85. Second, parity is less than ¥3 away and could easily be a psychological goal for dealers to test early in 2005. Third, traders may possibly see data print in 2005 that confirm Japan has escaped from its long-standing bout with deflation. This will likely precipitate a stronger yen but Bank of Japan is unlikely to unwind its quantitative easing anytime soon. Fourth, the Nikkei 225 stock index finished the year on a decent note despite the recent weak tone of Japanese economic data. Fifth, traders will closely watch oil prices as there was a high correlation between elevated price and yen weakness at times in 2004, given Japan’s dependence on imported oil. U.S. oil prices shaved US$ 1.25 to $42.20 on the International Petroleum Exchange. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥103.70 level. The euro extended its recent losses vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥138.10 level and was capped around the ¥139.10 level. Stops were hit below the ¥138.60 level during early North American dealing. Euro bids are seen around the ¥137.80 level.



The British pound moved lower during the first trading day of the New Year with cable testing bids around the US$ 1.8985 level, its lowest level since 30 November. Stops were reached below the $1.9055 level as cable bulls were unable to make much headway above the $1.9200 figure today. U.K. markets are still on holiday and will return to normal from tomorrow with many U.K. data released then including the latest mortgage lending data. A continued deceleration in lending activity and a slowdown in the housing sector do not bode well for sterling. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8915 level. The euro was basically flat vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6995 level and was capped around the ₤0.7095 level.

CHF

The Swiss franc gained lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar on this first day of trading in 2005 with the greenback testing offers around the CHF 1.1555 level after testing bids around the CHF 1.1370 level. Trading was volatile as traders were able to move the markets on account of thin holiday-driven conditions. Swiss December unemployment data will be released on Friday. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1580 level. The euro came off marginally vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5410 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5480 level.

 

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