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Thursday January 20, 2005 - 18:10:42 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 January 2005)

The euro extended its losses below the psychologically-important US$ 1.3000 figure today, reaching an intraday low around the $1.2925 level after Australasian dealers failed to push the pair through the $1.3030 level. The greenback gained ground following hawkish comments from St. Louis Fed President Poole who said inflation is “under control” but added policymakers “have emphasized that it is prepared, if necessary, to move more aggressively to protect the relatively low rates of core inflation that now exist.” The Fed’s Beige Book was released yesterday and it appeared to show little concern over rising price pressures. Most Fed-watchers expect the Federal Open Market Committee to raise the federal funds target rate by 25bps when policymakers meet in early February. Data released in the U.S. today saw December leading economic indicators climb 0.2% to 115.4, the second consecutive month of gains after five months of declines. Also, the currency economic activity index gained 0.3% while the lagging index was unchanged. Dealers cited talk overnight of U.S. dollar buying relating to corporate repatriations of overseas earnings under the Homeland Investment Act. German Chancellor Scroeder’s office today announced the German economy “appears to be coping well with high oil prices and the strong euro.” Data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-12 November trade surplus climb €2.9 billion from a revised €5.7 billion in October while December HICP was up 2.4% y/y from the provisional 2.3% tally. Notably, however, the ECB today reported inflationary pressures are easing on account of the decline in oil prices. Traders await a lot of Fedspeak over the next 24 hours including comments from Yellen, Stern, and Bies. Euro bids are seen around the US$ 1.2880 level.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥ 103.40 level and remained supported around the ¥ 102.50 level during Australasian dealing. Traders are talking about the European Central Bank’s monthly report released today in which the central bank said Asian currencies must begin to absorb a greater share of the dollar’s declines. These comments follow recent rhetoric from ECB Chief Economist Issing wherein he was critical of Asian countries’ practice of keeping their currencies artificially devalued. These comments are leading up the G7 meeting of central bankers and finance ministers in London in early February. Traders expect policymakers to be highly critical of Asian currency regimes – particularly China’s – in what could be the final G7 meeting before China announces a gradual liberalization of its yuan. Along these lines, dealers are citing chatter that Malaysis is prepared to upwardly adjust its seven year-old peg of 3.80 ringgit to the U.S. dollar. Data released in Japan today saw December convenience store sales fall 0.9% y/y for the nineteenth time in 22 months while Teikoku reported 2004 corporate failures were off 16.8%, their second consecutive decline. It was also reported that foreign investors upped their net purchases of Japanese equities last week, adding some ¥233.1 billion to their portfolios. The Nikkei 225 stock index closed off 1.06% at ¥11,284.77. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥104.20 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥134.05 level and was supported just above the ¥133.05 level.

The British pound clawed back from early losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable managed to trade back above the US$ 1.8700 after earlier testing bids around the US$ 1.8635 level. The British Chamber of Commerce today reported U.K. GDP growth will come in around 2.5% in 2005 and 2006, well below Chancellor Brown’s 3.0% - 3.5% estimate. Traders await a speech from Bank of England Governor King later in the session to see if he yields any clues about tomorrow’s U.K. retail sales data and how he reacts to the recent improvement in some U.K. numbers. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.8590 level. The euro weakened further vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6920 level.


The Swiss franc continued its decline vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1925 level and remained supported around the CHF 1.1830 level. There are no significant Swiss data to be released before next week. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1990 level. The euro was little changed vis-à-vis the Swiss franc after the single currency ran out of steam around the CHF 1.5440 level.


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