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Wednesday January 12, 2005 - 15:21:08 GMT
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FX Market Commentary and Analysis (12 January 2005)

The euro made a strong move vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3240 level after the release of a wider-than-expected U.S. November trade deficit. The figure printed at US$ 60.3 billion, above October’s $56.0 billion reading and above forecasts around $54.0 billion. These data are very negative for the dollar because they suggest international portfolio flows may not have covered the current account deficit in Q4 2004 and lead to more dollar-selling pressure. Boston Fed President Minehan was on the wires shortly after the number saying interest rates must rise and deficits must be reduced. The common currency gained more than one big figure upon the number’s release. Data released in Germany today saw Q4 GDP grow 0.4% q/q and 2.2% y/y according to DIW and 2004 GDP growth is expected to have reached 1.7%. EMU-12 GDP growth was today reported up 0.3% q/q in Q3 and up 1.8% y/y. The European Commission raised its EMU-12 GDP growth forecast for Q1 to 0.3% to 0.7% and maintained its Q4 forecast of 0.2% to 0.6%. Other data released today saw German consumer prices up 1.0% m/m and 2.1% y/y in December. Traders await tomorrow’s European Central Bank interest rate decision to see if policymakers shed any light on their current thinking. Euro bids are cited around the $1.3160 level.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥102.20 level after the release of worse-than-expected U.S. trade data. Dollar bulls failed to push the pair through ¥103.55 during Australasian dealing and stops were triggered below the ¥103.15 level during early North American dealing ahead of the number. Data released in Japan overnight was hardly rosy, however, as Bank of Japan’s quarterly poll of the public’s economic assessment worsened for the first time in seven quarters. The economic assessment diffusion index receded to -19.7, its first decline since March 2003. Individual incomes and business conditions were cited as negative factors in the survey. Other data released overnight saw December bank lending off 2.8% y/y, the 84th consecutive monthly fall, while the December M2+CD money supply rose 2.0% y/y. On a positive note, orders for machine tools climbed 1.8% m/m in December to ¥115.375 billion and the annualized rate surged 49.1% for the 27th consecutive monthly increase. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.75% to close at ¥11,453.39 today. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥102.80 level. The euro retraced most of its losses vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency battled back from the ¥135.05 level and was capped around the ¥135.75 level. In Chinese news, outgoing U.S. Commerce Secretary Evans encouraged China to move to a market-oriented exchange rate, following similar calls from ECB’s Issing yesterday. Also, China reported that 2004 crude oil imports rose 34.8% to 120 million metric tons in 2004 and China’s FX reserves were US$ 609.9 billion at the end of 2004, more than a 50% increase year-on-year.

The British pound appreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8880 level after the release of the wider-than-expected U.S. trade deficit data. Interestingly, the U.K. is poised to record its widest trade deficit ever in 2004 even though it was today reported the November trade in goods deficit narrowed to ₤4.6 billion from a downwardly revised ₤5.0 billion in October. The total deficit for Q1 – Q3 is estimated around ₤53.2 billion, above 2003’s total deficit of ₤47.4 billion. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8810 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.7020 level and was supported around the ₤0.6975 level.


The Swiss franc made a sharp move vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.1650 level after European dealers sold the pair from an intraday high around the CHF 1.1840 level. Major stops were reached below the CHF 1.1730 level during the slide and traders are now eyeing the CHF 1.1610 level. Technicians cite bids around the CHF 1.1590 level. Data released in Switzerland today saw the number of Swiss bankruptcies rise 7.7% to 10,424 in 2004 from 9,679 in 2003. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1680 level. The euro sputtered lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5460 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5515 level.


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