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Thursday January 27, 2005 - 15:05:47 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (27 January 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency was capped around the US$ 1.3125 level during European dealing and quickly receded to the $1.3010 level. Technically, chartists cite some support around the $1.3015 level but many traders are predicting the pair will move back to a $1.29 handle soon. There are several events that FX traders are focusing on. First, Iraq will hold interim elections on Sunday and it remains to be seen if democracy will take root there or if voters will be intimidated by the death threats that terrorists have made. Second, President Bush’s government has now spent some US$ 300 billion on the military campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq and traders remain concerned about this commitment to lowering the U.S. budget deficit. Third, Bush will deliver his State of the Union address next week and may seek to clarify some of the hawkish remarks he made in his inaugural address. Fourth, next week’s G7 meeting in London is likely to see the 2004 Boca Raton statements about “orderly” FX movements recertified. Fifth, markets are bracing themselves for a +25bps monetary tightening by the FOMC in a couple of weeks. Data released in the U.S. today saw headline December durable goods orders print at +0.6% while the ex-transportation number printed at +2.1%. Also, it was reported that weekly initial jobless claims rose +7,000 to 325,000 while continuing claims also rose to 2.84 million. Traders await tomorrow’s Q4 GDP, personal consumption, and GDP deflator data. The European Commission today warned that Italy will breach the EU’s deficit limits in 2004 and 2005. Eurozone officials are suggesting a revised Stability Pact will be agreed to no later than March. Italian data released today saw January manufacturing business confidence improve modestly. European Central Bank Chief Economist Issing today said EMU-12 inflation should fall below 2% in 2005 and added “a recovery in private consumption can be excepted as soon as employment prospects in the euro area brighten further.” Euro bids are seen around the $1.2950 level.


The yen came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥103.55 level and was supported around the ¥103.05 level during Australasian dealing. The intraday low continues to be a relevant level of technical support related to the pair’s recent ¥101.65/ ¥104.30 range. Data released in Japan overnight saw commercial sales rise 3.0% y/y in December, the eleventh increase in thirteen months, while retail sales fell 0.7% y/y, the eighth decline in ten months. For all of 2004, commercial sales climbed 2.2% as wholesales sales increased 3.1% and retail sales fell 0.6%. Earlier in the session, it was reported that nationwide department store sales fell 2.6% y/y in December to ¥914.5 billion, the thirteenth decline in fourteen months, and department store sales have now fallen for seven straight years. It was also reported that supermarket sales came off 5.3% in December and fell 3.5% in all of 2004. These data are indicative of the effects of deflation as Japanese consumers are clearly delaying spending decisions. It was also reported that foreign investors lowered their net purchases of Japanese equities last week, accumulating ¥155.5 billion in shares, down from ¥218.0 billion the week prior. Traders await the government’s first estimate of GDP growth for the October – December quarter on 16 February. MoF’s Watanabe spoke about next week’s G7 summit and said monetary authorities will likely stand behind last year’s Boca Raton statement about exchange rates. The yen has gained ground recently when the prospects of engaging China about the yuan at the G7 moved to the forefront of expectations but most traders do not expect China to announce any plans to liberalize the yuan’s convertibility next week. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.31% to close at ¥11,341.31. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥103.70 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥134.45 level and was capped around the ¥135.50 level. In Chinese news, noted Chinese economist Fan Gang yesterday told an introductory forum at the World Economic Forum in Davos that China has “lost faith in the stability of the U.S. dollar” and added China will lessen the weighting of the U.S. dollar in a basket of currencies when it liberalizes its capital account. Today, finance minister Jin Renging said China will discuss the yuan and how to prevent FX rate fluctuations at the G7. President Bush yesterday said he is working with China on this topic.

The British pound gained marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8870 level and was supported around the $1.8795 level. Data released in the U.K. today saw Nationwide hours prices rise 0.4% m/m in January, up from December’s 0.2% decline. Notably, however, it was reported that France and Spain have overtaken the U.K. with regard to having the highest house price inflation in Europe. These data follow yesterday’s stronger-than-expected Q4 GDP data. The CBI’s quarterly trends survey was released today and it saw orders fall this month for the first time in fifteen months along with exports orders and employment. Statistically, this means at least 16% of the U.K. economy is in a technical recession. Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Nickell today said U.K. inflationary pressures are set to rise over the next couple of years. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8750 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6910 level and was capped around the ₤0.6960 level.


The Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1885 level and remained supported around the CHF 1.1780 level. Traders await tomorrow’s Swiss SECO economic forecasts. Dealers cite dollar offers around the CHF 1.1930 level. The euro lost ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5450 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5490 level.


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