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Friday May 21, 2004 - 15:19:52 GMT
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Daily Market Commentary and Analysis (21 May 2004)

The euro made a major move higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2075 level after finding good demand around the $1.1955 level earlier today. The move above the $1.2000 figure was partially caused by an Asian central bank that absorbed offers above the $1.2000 figure and triggered stops to the $1.2025 level. Fed Governor Bernanke spoke yesterday and said the Fed will likely raise the federal funds target rate “gradually” this year based on the current belief that core inflation will remain in a “zone of price stability.” He left some wiggle-room for the Fed to move more aggressively, however, saying the Fed has not made an “unconditional commitment” to raising rates. This remains a less likely scenario, he added. There were no major data released in the U.S. today and Treasury Secretary Snow was talking-up the U.S. economy during early North American dealing. Data released in the eurozone today saw Italian retail sales up slightly y/y and Germany announced it will release May CPI data for six German states on 24 May. ECB’s Louekoski today said the price of oil remains the main inflation risk and called the EU’s budget policy “worrying” at the moment. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2080 level with bids seen around the $1.2000 figure and stops below the $1.1980/ 60 levels.


The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥111.80 level after running out of steam around the ¥113.05 level overnight. The pair’s move to the intraday high was a technical one as it tested a retracement level belonging to the ¥113.55/¥112.55 range. The pair’s losses today coincided with a strong move in Japanese equities that saw a 1.92% gain in the Nikkei 225 stock index to ¥11,070.25. The pair also slumped when the IMF reported it will likely revise its forecast for Japanese economic growth to 4.0% from 3.4%. S&P followed Fitch’s recent announcement and said it will not revise Japan’s sovereign ratings for one or two years. Data released in Japan today saw March all-industries activity index up 1.1% m/m while the March tertiary industry activity index climbed 1.0% m/m. Finance minister Tanigaki today said FX rates should reflect fundamentals and added oil and interest rates may be discussed at this weekend’s G7 meeting of finance ministers. BoJ Governor Fukui today instructed officials the central bank will continue its quantitative easing policy and communicate with the markets. Stops were triggered below the ¥112.80/50/20 levels during the pair’s move lower. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥111.70 level with offers around the ¥113.05/40 levels ahead of additional selling pressure around the ¥114.00 figure. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥135.25 level and remained supported around the ¥134.30 level. In Chinese news, China’s Ministry of Finance reported its trade deficit will narrow in 2004 and may even move to a small surplus. China’s trade deficit was US$ 10.76 in the first four months of 2004.


The British pound extended its gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7960 level after finding some good demand around the $1.7935 level during Australasian dealing. One major reason for the move higher was a comment from Bank of England MPC member Barker who said she does not think a 50bps move higher in the repo rate in May would have shocked the U.K. consumer too much. These were uncharacteristic comments coming from Barker, a known monetary dove, and she added she is still unconvinced of the need to take action to curb the growth in home prices. Cable sunk to the $1.7735 level earlier in the session when a reporter was misquoted as having said there was a chemical attack in London. An Asian central bank was seen buying cable when cable was around the $1.7865 level. Data released in the U.K. today saw BBA/ BSA mortgage lending evidence increases in mortgage borrowing in April. Also, the April public sector net cash requirement registered an unexpected surplus. Cable bids are cited around the $1.7840 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound today as sterling tested bids around the £0.6705 level. Euro bids are also cited around the £0.6685 level with euro offers around the £0.6745/ 60/ 80 levels.


The Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback fell to the CHF 1.2705 level after topping out around the CHF 1.2870 level. Swiss National Bank’s Roth today said Switzerland’s monetary situation is now “relatively comfortable” and said the exchange rate is “relatively stable.” He added the Swiss franc will remain independent of the euro and said “the Swiss franc appears now to be less affected by exchange rate shocks and more shielded from speculative movements. Since the introduction of the euro ... the evolution of the Swiss franc sticks closer to our economic fundamentals. In fact, the stabilizing role of the euro is a general phenomenon, allowing third currency exchange rates to stay closer to their fundamentals." Roth also said the central bank would need to tighten policy as the economy improved. SNB added one-week liquidity at 0.11% today, the same rate it has used since 2 April 2003. The euro tested bids around the CHF 1.5335 level today after capping out around the CHF 1.5385 level.


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