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Monday January 10, 2005 - 13:24:56 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (10 January 2005)

The euro retraced some recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3120 level and remained supported above the $1.3050 level. The move higher coincided with a test of the 38.2% retracement level of the move from Friday’s high around the $1.3250 level to its low around the $1.3025 level. The common currency’s moves may be limited, however, by comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow who said the U.S. wants to “do thing to sustain the strength of the (dollar).” Snow also said the Bush administration is committed to reining in the current mammoth budget deficit. Traders largely believe the strong dollar comments are empty rhetoric ahead of the G8 meeting on 4-5 February but are closely tuned-in to the budget-related comments. It seems unlikely, however, that the budget deficit will be reduced significantly as the Bush administration wants to make tax cuts permanent. Many Fed speakers are on the docket this week. On Friday, Fed Vice Chairman Ferguson was cautious about recent non-farm payrolls data saying evidence is “ambiguous” about whether or not the “unusually slow” recovery in unemployment represents slack or persons who have left the labour market permanently. Data released in the eurozone today saw Germany’s current account register an €8.5 billion surplus in November, up from October’s €6.6 billion surplus. At the same time, the trade surplus fell from €12.6 billion to €11.9 billion. Germany’s current account surplus is one structural and comparative advantage over the U.S. German Chancellor Schroeder ruled out any tax hike before the 2006 general election while French finance minister Gaymard said President Chirac can still achieve the income tax cuts he strikes for by 2007. In other eurozone news, it was reported in the German press that the European Central Bank lost at least €1 billion in 2004 on account of relatively low interest rates and currency movements. Traders await U.S. wholesale inventories and sales data at 1500 GMT. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3050 level.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as traders pushed the greenback lower from an intraday high around the ¥104.85 level and tested bids around the ¥104.30 level. Japanese markets were closed for the Coming of Age holiday hence there was a dearth of data or events in Japan. Bank of Japan Governor Fukui spoke at the G10 meeting in Basel and reiterated it is premature to determine when Japan will end its quantitative easing policy. Interestingly, Fukui said the most important determinant was asset prices and not inflation. Regarding Japan’s economy, he again said the recovery is intact but expressed caution given the recent run of weaker economic data. Additionally, he said “irregular” currency movements require close monitoring. Technically, the dollar fell back below the 50% retracement of its post-October range, leading to stops being hit below the ¥104.55 level. Many important Japanese data will be released later in the week including the consumer goods price index and industrial production. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.90 level. The euro extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥136.55 level after running out of steam around the ¥137.05 level. In Chinese news, two prominent Chinese economists warned against revaluing the yuan too quickly.

The British pound took a breather from its recent sharp depreciation vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable found some bids around the US$ 1.8690 level and attacked the US$ 1.8795 level during early North American dealing. Data released in the U.K. today saw the ODPM average house price index decline 0.1% m/m in November while the annualized rate picked up to 13.8%. These data coincide with recent housing market data that have evidenced a generally weaker housing sector in the U.K. The big question on traders’ minds is whether the slowdown will lead to the an asset bubble burst in the sector or whether Bank of England and other market forces can slow the housing market agreeably. BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee convenes on Wednesday and Thursday to deliberate interest rates. Notably, policymakers actually discussed cutting rates last month and the weaker data since then may seen a pick-up in such talk. Other data released today saw December factory gate prices weaken to their lowest level since November 2001, off 0.4% m/m and up 2.9% y/y. This was below expectations and raw material costs also came off sharply last month as input prices fell 2.3% from November – the largest monthly pullback since July 2001. Similarly, the core measure of output prices receded 0.3% from November, its lowest fall since July 1999. Collectively, these data evidence benign inflationary pressures in the U.K. and are unlikely to support sterling. In M&A news, it is being reported that Barclays Bank is eyeing a tie-up with Wells Fargo. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8725 level. The euro was little-changed vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6970 level and was capped just below the psychologically-important ₤0.7000 figure.


The Swiss franc gained some ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1785 level after Australasian dealers pushed the pair lower from the CHF 1.1855 level. A UBS AG survey today reported that employment will improve in Switzerland in 2005 and support corporate earnings growth. Swiss November retail sales and comments from Swiss National Bank’s Hildebrand are scheduled for tomorrow. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1900 figure. The euro was marginally stronger vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5490 level and remained supported around the CHF 1.5450 level.


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