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Wednesday January 5, 2005 - 15:05:11 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (5 January 2005)

The euro weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the $1.3215 level during European and North American dealing after Australasian dealers failed to push the pair through the $1.3300 figure. Stops were reached below the $1.3265 level during Australasian dealing and below the $1.3235 level during European dealing. North American dealers then lifted the common currency back above the $1.3260 level. Traders are still talking about yesterday’s release of fairly hawkish Federal Open Market Committee minutes from policymakers’ December monetary policy meeting. There was no suggestion that Fed officials considered a pause in their current tightening cycle with some policymakers concerned about the weaker dollar, higher energy prices, and a deceleration in productivity growth. Other officials said price pressures and wage pressures are well-contained. Most economists expect the Fed will continue to tighten monetary policy by 25bps at every meeting in 2005. Policymakers were unconcerned with recent disappointments in labour market data. Traders will get their next taste of employment data on Friday when December non-farm payrolls are released. Most forecasts are predicting gains between +175,000 and 185,000 with some seeing 200,000 new jobs as a number that would lead to more dollar buying. Short-term interest rate futures are pricing in +100bps of additional monetary tightening by the Fed through the June FOMC meeting. The question on traders’ minds is how far the current dollar correction will progress. It is probable that this correction is merely a diversion from the U.S.’s structural shortcomings such as balance of payment and current account deficits. Still, traders should expect the market to periodically focus on cyclical factors like growth rates rather than the U.S.’s deficits and provide the dollar with some relief, just as they did in 2004. The U.S. dollar index traded as high as the 82.92 level today and was supported around the 82.40 level. Some chartists are predicting a return to the 83.20 level in short order. Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-12 December services PMI at 52.6, lower-than-expected, but unchanged from December. The employment component moved higher to 50.6 from 50.5 in November and the new business index registered its first gain in six months, moving to 51.3 from 50.7. Data released in the U.S. today saw December non-manufacturing ISM improve to 63.1 from 61.3 in December while December Challenger layoffs moved higher to 109,045 from 104,530 in November. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3170 level.


The yen erased its earlier losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback could not sustain a move to the ¥105.00 figure and backtracked to the ¥104.15 level during North American dealing. Stops were triggered above the ¥104.75 level on the move up and below the ¥104.50 level on the way down. Liquidity was reported to be strong during late Australasian dealing. Dealers are still talking about yesterday’s dollar-buying and some are attributing the dollar’s strong gains to comments from a Korean finance ministry official who intimated Bank of Korea would elevate the ceiling on government debt to finance dollar-buying intervention operations to curtail the won’s rise. This comment, if nothing else, suggests Asian central banks will continue to accumulate dollars for their reserve portfolios. November household spending will be released on Friday and most economists are expecting a continuation of weak Japanese economic data. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.70% overnight to close at ¥11,437.52. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.05 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥137.85 level after running into offers just below the ¥139.00 figure. Significant stops were reached below the ¥138.40 level during European dealing and the cross bottomed out during early North American dealing. The Swiss franc weakened further vis-à-vis the yen as the cross tested bids around the ¥88.75 level and was capped around the ¥89.75 level. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China confirmed in spent RMB 852.3 billion to buy foreign exchange between January and September 2004 and it is estimated that the entire 2004 totals exceeded RMB 1 trillion.

The British pound was volatile vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8730 level during European dealing before moving back to the $1.8840 level during North American dealing. Stops were reached below the $1.8775 level during European dealing and above the $1.8810 level during North American dealing. The recovery in sterling was precipitated by a CBI report that said 53% of high street stores reported sales were higher in the first two weeks of December, compared with 20% that indicated sales fell. The +33 balance was an improvement from November’s +19 level and these data will put added emphasis on H2 December retail sales data. These data, however, are likely to be a temporary boost for sterling as recent housing and manufacturing data have been weak. Some technical analysts are predicting a return to the $1.8630/20 level in the short-term. Cable offers are seen around the $1.8890 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.7035 level and peaked around the ₤0.7075 level. The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the cross tested offers around the CHF 1.2080 level and was supported around the CHF 2.1935 level.


The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1760 level and remained supported around the CHF 1.1665 level during Australasian dealing. Stops were hit above the CHF 1.1715 level during European dealing but the pair was seen orbiting the CHF 1.1700 figure during early North American dealing after moving to intraday highs. Some technicians are predicting a move to the CHF 1.1860 level this week. Swiss December unemployment data will be released on Friday. Dollar offers are cited around the $1.1820 level. The euro showed early promise vis-à-vis the Swiss franc but the cross could not pierce the CHF 1.1550 level and moved back to the CHF 1.1500 figure during North American dealing.


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