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Friday January 7, 2005 - 15:35:53 GMT
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FX Market Commentary and Analysis (7 January 2005)

The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3250 level but failed to rally significantly after the lower-than-expected U.S. December non-farm payroll data were released. The pair was back below the $1.3200 figure soon after the release and traders were curious why the pair ran out of steam at exactly the $1.3250 level. It was reported that non-farm payrolls grew 157,000 in December while the unemployment rate remained steady at 5.4%. This means 2.231 million jobs were added in 2004 – the best year since 1999 – and November totals were upwardly revised to 137,000 from 112,000. Average hourly earnings climbed 0.1% to $15.86 last month and this means average hourly earnings grew 2.7% in 2004 – a fast pace but below the current inflation rate of 3.5%. Traders await comments from Fed officials Bernanke, Santomero, and Ferguson later in the day. It is likely that today’s data will have little impact, if any, on the FOMC’s current tightening cycle. The FOMC next convenes on 1-2 February to deliberate policy. A closer inspection of the data reveals that manufacturing industries added 3,000 jobs last month, the first pick-up since August, while factory jobs registered their first annual increase since 1998 and construction industries were up 258,000 jobs for the year. Notably, the services sector added 1.9 million jobs in 2004. Data released in Germany today was weak with November manufacturing orders off 2.3% m/m and EMU-12 retail sales unchanged m/m in November and up +0.4% y/y. Also, EMU-12 unemployment was at 8.9%% in November, unchanged from October’s reading and in-line with expectations. French President Chirac today reiterated his country’s commitment to trimming the budget deficit to less than 3% of GDP in 2005. Euro bids are seen around the US$ 1.3120 level.

The yen made a sharp move higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥103.90 level during North American dealing after running out of steam around the ¥105.05 level. Stops were triggered below the ¥104.20 level after the release of the U.S. non-farm payrolls numbers. Data released in Japan overnight was quite weak with household spending coming off 1.3% y/y in November – the fourth decline in six months. Spending was up +0.8% m/m, however, the first increase in three months. Consumer spending holds the key in Japan right now, especially with that country trying to emerge from a long bout with deflation in 2005 and China actively trying to slow its economy. Bank of Japan Governor Fukui yesterday said the current adjustment in Japan’s economy would be “short-lived” and added the underlying trend of the recovery “remains intact.” He specifically said a revision of GDP data, global soft patches, IT-related investment adjustments, manufacturing production bottlenecks, and adverse effects from typhoons and tsunamis are responsible for this pause in Japan’s economic activity. In contrast somewhat, finance minister Tanigaki suggested Japan may not emerge from deflation this year and said it is “premature to set a target” about when this may happen. Bank of Japan is likely to not start to unwind its quantitative easing anytime soon and may keep it in place for part or all of the fiscal year starting in April. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.51% to close at ¥11,433.24. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥105.00 figure. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥137.35 level and was capped just ahead of the ¥138.50 level. The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥195.80 level while the Swiss franc tested bids around the ¥88.70 level.

The British pound moved modestly higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8865 level but then fell back to the $1.8780 level, some 35 points higher than its low for the day. Cable challenged the $1.8840 level during European dealing when the Halifax December house price survey showed an increase of 1.1% m/m, following losses in November and October. These data are inconsistent with recent data from other mortgage providers that have evidenced sharply decelerating home prices month-on-month but Halifax also indicated year-on-year growth is dissipating. The REC released a hobs report last night that showed U.K. recruitment activity remained strong last month. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8725 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6995 level and was capped around the ₤0.7085 level.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1815 level, its highest level since 10- November. Stops were triggered above the CHF 1.1780 level during North American dealing as the dollar resumed its corrective move despite the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls data. Data released in Switzerland saw the December unemployment rate rise to 4.0% from 3.9% in November. The Swiss government reported it is “likely” to reduce its 2005 economic forecast. SECO’s current 2005 forecast calls for 2.0% growth this year after 1.8% growth in 2004. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.1850 level. The euro scored minor gains vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5505 level. The British pound moved sharply higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as sterling tested offers around the CHF 2.2175 level.


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