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Tuesday January 25, 2005 - 15:06:09 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (25 January 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.3005 level and European dealers were later unable to take the pair above the $1.3080 level. Technical support propped the common currency around the $1.3015 level during early North American dealing. Technically, the pair has remained supported at or just below the 50% retracement level of the recent $1.2920/$1.3100 range. The market’s focus on the upcoming G7 meeting in London has shifted from “pressuring Asia on exchange rate inflexibility” to “pressuring the U.S. on its unsustainable deficits” and this may put some pause in the U.S. dollar correction and support the euro in the short-term. Notably, the U.S. current account deficit is now close to 6% of GDP and it is gradually becoming more difficult for the U.S. to finance its trade gap every month. If this is the main topic at the G7, traders may expect the U.S. dollar to be given. U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow was on the wires last night against “excessive volatility” in exchange rates and intimated there would be no major revision to exchange rate language in the G7 communiqué. French and German officials have also recently signaled their satisfaction with the FX language in last year’s Boca Raton G7 communiqué. Data released in the U.S. today saw January consumer confidence beat expectations and rise to 103.4 from a revised 102.7 but this print was tempered by a weaker expectations sub-index number. December existing home sales data also beat expectations today but these data were perhaps overshadowed by a grim report from the CBO that forecast a U.S. budget deficit of US$ 368 billion in 2005. Data released in the eurozone today saw Italian consumer confidence decline for the third consecutive month in January. Traders await the more relevant German Ifo business sentiment survey tomorrow. A German government “Wise Man” today said the recent 1.6% forecast for 2005 GDP growth is “at the top end of realistic expectations.” It was also reported today that France’s budget deficit fell to €43.9 billion but this still represents 3.6% of GDP. EU’s Alumnia today said the euro is not “creating problems for member states” and added the advantages of a stronger euro outweigh the disadvantages. He conceded that it might be “quite a bit stronger than needed.” European Central Bank President today discounted the applicability of monetary policy responses to economic shocks like higher oil prices. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2990 level.


The yen fell sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥103.70 level after remaining bid above the ¥102.50 level during Australasian dealing. Market chatter that U.S. policymakers are considering implementation of “Super 301” trade provisions to highlight unfair trading practices and currency manipulation by Asian trading partners saw the dollar gain ground overnight. Japan, however, has not overtly intervened for more than ten months thus it may be difficult for U.S. authorities to make that argument. The U.S. may also not want to start a trade row with China just weeks before the Chinese New Year. Finance minister Tanigaki hinted that Japan may increase its consumption tax to deal with expanding social security costs. Notably, tax increases in 1990 pushed the Japanese economy further into deflation thus any increase in taxes is unlikely to be a popular move. The yen also came off overnight on a lessening perception that G7 officials will pressure Asian countries to liberalize their capital accounts at next month’s G7 meeting of policymakers in London. Canadian Prime Minister Martin yesterday said now is not the time to push China. Data released in Japan overnight saw December sales at large electrical sales fall 0.08%. The December trade balance and corporate services price index will be released overnight tonight. Technically, the dollar tested the 61.8% retracement support level of the recent ¥101.65/¥103.95 range overnight and easily took out technical resistance around the ¥103.40 level. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.11% to close at ¥11,276.91. The euro also gained ground vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥135.30 level and was supported around the ¥133.60 level. Technically, the cross has recently been supported by the ¥132.90 level, the 50% retracement of the ¥124.20/¥141.65 range. In Chinese news, a senior official there was quoted as saying his country requires more time to prepare for currency flexibility, dousing speculation the yuan is set to trade more flexibly. German finance minister Eichel yesterday said he wanted Asia to promote more flexible exchange rates. Data released in China today saw GDP grow at a major 9.5% in 2004, eclipsing 2003’s growth rate of 9.3%. These data are partially surprising because China has initiated macroeconomic steps to slow the economy and more interest rate hikes or policy responses may be required to orchestrate a cooler economy. Other data released today saw 2004 retail sales up 13.3% with 2004 fixed-assed investment was up 25.8%.

The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8695 during North American dealing after Australasian and European dealers capped the sterling around the $1.8810 level. Stops were triggered below the $1.8750 level during the run lower. Technically, cable has been supported around the $1.8640 level in recent sessions, the 50% range of the $1.7745/ $1.9550 range. Traders appear to be shorting the pound ahead of tomorrow’s Q4 U.K. GDP data scheduled for released tomorrow. It is expected to print around 2.7%, down from the previous 3.1% print. The December U.K. retail sales data released late last week do not bode well for tomorrow’s number as they revealed retailers suffered their worst holiday sales period since 1981. Cable bids are seen around the $1.8650 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6965 level and was supported around the ₤0.6925 level.


The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1885 level. The pair was supported just above the CHF 1.1800 figure. Technically, the pair has recently been supported right around the 50% retracement level of the CHF 1.1625/ CHF 1.1970 range. Switzerland’s SECO will release economic forecasts on Friday. Dollar offers are cited around CHF 1.1910 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5470 level and remained supported around the CHF 1.5435 level.


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