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Friday January 14, 2005 - 14:49:00 GMT
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FX Market Commentary and Analysis (14 January 2005)

The euro sold off sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3060 level and neared a weekly low. St. Louis Fed President Poole injected some life into the dollar when he said he would not hesitate to raise interest rates at a faster-than-“measured” pace if he deems it to be necessary. Poole is not a voting FOMC member in 2005 but his comments are consistent with some relatively hawkish comments from Fed officials recently. Market-watchers will note that Fed officials generally seem to be more concerned with inflation that asset prices and traders. Data released in the U.S. today saw headline December producer price inflation fall 0.7 while the core rate climbed +0.1%. President Bush reiterated the U.S.’s strong-dollar policy overnight and also pledged his support for a tighter federal budget. The latter comment led to dollar gains as the markets are clearly concerned with the mammoth U.S. budget deficits. European Central Bank President Trichet today said euro moves are “unwelcome” and are damaging EMU-12 growth prospects. He also said FX intervention remains a “a tool.” Trichet did not speak about Asian exchange rates, deferring instead to the G7 meeting in early February. Austrian finance minister Grasser today said the dollar’s weakness has extended beyond fundamentals and added an adjustment is necessary. Some market-watchers believe the dollar’s strong gains today reflect position squaring ahead of the long market holiday weekend with some U.S. financial institutions to be closed on Monday. There is talk in some European quarters that EU finance ministers will resolve some differences about the EU’s Stabilty and Growth Pact when they convene on Tuesday. One source is suggesting a deal to reform the pact will be agreed in March. Data released later in the U.S. session saw December industrial production climb +0.8% while capacity utilization printed at 79.2%. Euro bids are seen around the $1.3025 level.

The yen lost margin ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥103.20 level and was supported around the ¥102.35 level. The pair failed to sustain overnight gains, however, as European dealers hit stops below the ¥102.80 level and early North American dealers tested technical resistance around the ¥102.75 level before moving to an intraday low. Many Japanese data were released overnight. First, it was reported that Tokyo department store sales fell 3.2% y/y in December to ¥218.9 billion, the 36th decline in 37 months. This means sales were off 3.4% to ¥1.93 trillion last year. Second, Japan’s economy watchers’ index receded for the fifth straight month last month, falling 1.1 points to 44.2, while the expectations sub-index also worsened for the eighth consecutive month. Third, the markets were cautiously surprised by a huge 19.9% m/m gain in core private machinery orders for November. Fourth, November industrial output was up a revised 1.7% m/m, suggesting that sector may be turning around. Fifth, the December wholesale goods price index remained unchanged in December month-on-month after gaining ground in five of the previous six months. On an annualized basis, it rose 1.9% - the tenth consecutive monthly increase – as wholesale prices have been trending higher since July 2003. Japan’s government is said to have maintained its economic assessment this month with the formal report due 19 January. Last month, the government downgraded its economic assessment for the second consecutive month. Preliminary capital flows data for the first week of the year were released overnight and they saw a net ¥183.9 billion of inflows into Japanese equities listed on the country’s three main exchanges. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.71% overnight to close at ¥11,438.39 while the TOPIX gained 0.5% to close at ¥1,145.69. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥103.25 level. The euro sputtered lower vis-à-vis the yen as the cross tested bids around the ¥134.10 level after failing to get through the ¥135.50 level.

The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8640 level and was capped around the $1.8825 level. Stops were hit below the $1.8700 figure during Australasian dealing, extending sterling’s three-day sell-off. Mounting concerns over Q4 U.K. economic growth, the eroding fiscal position, the growing current account deficit, and a sharply decelerating housing sector have all contributed to cable’s weakness. Technically, cable bids are seen around the $1.8650 level with stops below. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the cross tested bids around the ₤0.6995 level and was capped around the ₤0.7030 level.


The Swiss franc fell sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1870 level and remained supported above the CHF 1.1800 figure in early North American dealing. There was no significant Swiss data released today. The euro gained a small amount of ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5515 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5475 level. The British pound climbed higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 2.2160 level while the Swiss franc came off to the ¥86.55 level on that cross.


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