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Thursday January 6, 2005 - 16:33:08 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (6 January 2005)

The euro continued its plunge vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3165 level after Australasian dealers capped the pair around the $1.3285 level. Strong stops were hit below the $1.3250/20/ 00 levels during early European dealing. All eyes are fixated on tomorrow’s December non-farm payrolls employment data with most traders expecting gains of +165,000 – 175,000. Data released today, however, saw weekly initial jobless claims surge by 43,000 to 364,000 last week, their highest level since late September. Continuing claim also marched higher, gaining 61,000 to 2.84 million in the week ending 25 December. These data follow fairly negative employment sub-indices from ISM and PMI data releases this week, along with generally bearish anecdotal evidence. Most traders therefore conclude that a number above 200,000 could be strongly dollar positive tomorrow. One noteworthy study has reported that the U.S. dollar has gained an average of 1% vis-à-vis the euro for every 100,000 surprise in non-farm payrolls. Some additional preliminary retail sales data from the holiday period were released today with Wal-Mart Stores reporting a 3% rise y/y in December with Costco Wholesale registered a 9% y/y gain in December sales. Data released in the eurozone today saw German retail sales fall 2.5% in November while French consumer confidence fell unexpectedly last month to its lowest level in one year. Traders are also carefully watching the U.S. dollar index that topped out at 83.16 today, just below the technically-significant 83.18-83.20 level, above which major stops are said to be in place. Euro bids are seen around the $1.3120 level.


The yen extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.15 level, its highest level since 15 December. The pair was bid higher from the ¥103.90 level and stops were reached above the ¥104.50 level en route to the intraday high. European dealers took some profits before North American traders pushed the pair back towards the ¥105.00 figure. MoF currency boss Watanabe today characterized the movements in the FX market as “rather wild” and added monetary authorities are ready to “take action as needed.” Watanabe’s comments follow strong gains for the U.S. dollar across the board and his remarks clearly show the Japanese government is concerned with the speed and orderliness of moves more than general market direction. Of course, he was probably focusing on the EUR/JPY and GBP/JPY crosses where the pairs have fallen more than ¥3.5 and ¥4.5 in about one week. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.48% to close at ¥11,492.26. November household spending data will be released in Japan overnight. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.50 level. The euro gained some ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥138.60 level and was supported around the ¥137.90 level. The British pound notched decent gains vis-à-vis the yen as the sterling tested offers around the ¥197.00 figure after finding demand around the ¥195.90 level. In Chinese news, it was reported that China’s January – November non-financial overseas investment registered US$ 1.8 billion.

The British pound weakened further vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8700 figure, its lowest level since 24 November. The pair fell to intraday lows after the December U.K. CIPS services index receded more than expected, falling 54.9 – its lowest level since September. The employment component fell to 51.8 from 53.8 in November while the new business index came off to 55.4 from 56.8. It is notable that the business expectations component fell to its lowest level since June 2003 at 73.7 from November’s 74.1 print. These data are simply the latest in a string of bearish U.K. economic data. Cable bids are seen around the US$ 1.8650 level. The euro spun lower vis-à-vis the British pound on M&A rumours as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.7020 level. Word that Royal Bank of Scotland may bid for ABN AMRO pressured the cross.


The Swiss franc weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1780 level after Australasian dealers lifted the pair from the CHF 1.1670 level. Stops were reached above the CHF 1.1710 level during the move higher and the pair had problems staying above the CHF 1.1720 level during North American dealing. Swiss December unemployment data will be released tomorrow. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1810 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the cross tested bids around the CHF 1.5465 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5515 level. The British pound retraced most of its gains vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the cross peaked around the CHF 2.2095 level and was supported around the CHF 2.1970 level.


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