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Tuesday January 4, 2005 - 15:13:38 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (4 January 2005)

The euro extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3345 level, its lowest level since 22 December. Stops were reached below the $1.3440/ $1.3400 levels before the move stabilized somewhat during North American dealing. The dollar is undergoing a broad correction and despite its current strength, most traders believe the greenback will falter in 2005 on account the U.S.’s budget and current account deficits. Data released in Germany today saw unemployment worsen for the eleventh consecutive month as 4.483 million people were reported unemployed and the unemployment rate came in at 10.8%. These data were overshadowed by EMU-12 inflation for December as the preliminary reading came in at 2.3% y/y. These data are consistent with the early reads on inflation that traders saw out of Italy. This is above the European Central Bank’s 2.0% ceiling target and makes it more difficult for the ECB to consider a rate cut to curb the euro’s strength. The ECB’s Governing Council next deliberates monetary policy on 13 January. German economic research institute DIW today trimmed its German 2005 GDP forecast to 1.8% from 2.1% but predicted an improvement in Germany’s jobless rate from mid-2005. Data released in the U.S. today saw ISC/ UBS retail chain store sales climb 0.2% last week and 4.6% y/y. Other data released in the U.S. today saw November factory orders defy expectations and climb +1.2%. All eyes are focused on this Friday’s December U.S. non-farm payrolls number with many forecasts focusing on new job creation of +175,000 last month, above November’s +112,000 level that is also subject to revision. The employment components of recent U.S. PMI and ISM numbers, however, have been less-than-impressive. Some economists, however, are questioning how important this Friday’s NFP number actually is given the size of the U.S. deficits and the continued “gradual” pace of monetary tightening by the Fed expected in 2005. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3325 level.


The yen moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar on the second day of trading in 2005 as the greenback tested offers around the ¥104.00 figure before coming off to the ¥103.70 level in early North American trading. Stops were triggered above the ¥103.50 level as traders continued to buy the dollar across the board. There are no new significant reasons to buy U.S. dollars as traders’ concerns over the U.S. budget deficit and current account deficit have not evaporated in the New Year. Most analysts see this correction as being short-lived and short-covering by weaker dollar shorts and technical managers. Traders continue to carefully monitor oil prices as U.S. crude is now trading just above the $42.00 figure and London’s Brent crude fell to $39.02. There was a correlation between crude prices and the yen at times in 2004 hence oil prices will be scrutinized closely. The Nikkei 225 closed up its first trading day of 2005 by erasing a gap down and adding 28.99 points to close at ¥11,517.75. – its highest finish since 13 July. The TOPIX also climbed 0.33% to close at ¥1,153.38. Money supply data will be released in Japan overnight followed by household spending and business confidence data on Friday. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥104.30 level. The euro recovered from a sell-off during early European dealing as traders lifted the pair from intraday lows around the ¥137.85 level and stopped just short of testing the ¥139.00 figure. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China announced it has set an M2 target rate of 15% in 2005. The target for new bank loans in 2005 is RMB 2.5 trillion, above last year’s official RMB 2.2 trillion level. PBOC Governor Zhou was on the record as saying his monetary policies will support “balanced economic development and fight inflation.”

The British pound collapsed vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8915 level – a major technical retracement level – after capping out around the US$ 1.9120 level. The move lower in sterling was precipitated by weak U.K. economic data. First, it was reported that the pace of manufacturing sector growth is receding with December PMI at 53.7 from 55.0 in November. This was, however, the eighteenth consecutive month of expansion for the sector. Second, it was reported that the number of new mortgage approvals crashed to its lowest level since August 2002 with net mortgage lending and consumer credit also falling. The housing market probably remains the largest risk factor for sterling in 2005. Construction PMI data will be released in the U.K. tomorrow. Cable bids are seen around the US$ 1.8875 level. The euro was little changed vis-à-vis the British pound as the cross tested bids around the ₤0.7050 level and was capped around the ₤0.7080 level.


The Swiss franc came off sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1605 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1445 level. The franc lost ground across the board, down on most of its crosses with GBP/CHF briefly testing the CHF 2.2000 figure. Swiss December unemployment data will be released on Friday. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5500 figure and was supported just below the CHF 1.5440 level.


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