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Thursday February 3, 2005 - 16:15:02 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (3 February 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2940 level after stops were hit below the $1.3005 level during North American dealing. Technically, the single currency failed to get above its 100-hour moving average, peaking just below the $1.3040 level before moving abruptly lower. Traders were not inspired to buy euros following President Bush’s annual State of the Union address speech last night. Bush specifically cited Iran, Syria, and North Korea during his speech but gave no indication the U.S. was contemplating the same actions it invoked for Iraq. Also, on the economic front, Bush hailed the economy’s recent gains and said he will submit a budget to Congress that caps new spending below the rate of inflation. Bush also talked about privatizing Social Security, a domestic agendum that is likely to be among the most contentious in his second term. Data released in the U.S. today saw weekly initial jobless claims fall 9,000 to 316,000 while continuing claims fell to 2.69 million. Also, non-farm productivity decelerated to 0.8% in Q4 from 1.8% in Q3, the smallest gain in nearly four years, while unit labour costs rose 2.3%, the largest quarterly growth in almost three years. For all of 2004, non-farm productivity gained 4.1%, the smallest increase since 2001. These data are indicative of some inflationary pressures but clearly weren’t enough to elicit a change in verbiage from the Federal Open Market Committee this week. Manufacturing productivity gained 5.6% in Q4 while manufacturing unit labour costs rose 0.4%. Other data released today saw the January ISM services index fall to 59.2 while December factory orders were up 0.3%. European Central Bank convened today and as expected, did not change monetary policy, keeping its minimum refinancing rate at 2.0%. ECB President Trichet said he expects growth to increase in 2005 and added he sees inflation falling below the central bank’s 2.0% threshold this year. Trichet, however, pledged “continued vigilance” and said “upside risks to price stability over the medium term remain.” Data released in the eurozone today saw the EMU-12 services PMI index surprise the market and improve to 53.4 in January from 52.6 in December. The business activity indicator also improved to 66.3, an eleven-month high. Some traders are talking about a possible upward revision to U.S. GDP growth when the next revision is released on 25 February due to a miscalculation of trade data by Canadian government officials. Traders await tomorrow’s January non-farm payrolls data in the U.S. with most forecasts expecting new job creation around 175,000. Euro bids are seen around the US$ 1.2940 level.


The yen came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥104.50 level and remained supported around the ¥103.60 level. Dealers bid the pair up during Australasian dealing after President Bush’s State of the Union address did not mention a liberalization of China’s currency regime policies. European dealers took the pair lower from the ¥104.30 level to the ¥103.80 level where the 55-hour moving average supported the pair and thrust it to intraday highs. Bank of Japan Governor Fukui today said “Given the three conditions set for ending the quantitative easing, it is difficult to expect a change in policy in the near future.” Japan has maintained a quantitative easing policy since June 2000 in a bid to lift the country from deflation. GDP data for the October – December quarter is expected on 16 February. Data released in Japan overnight saw foreign investors as net buyers of ¥271.0 billion in Japanese equities last week, confirming foreigners were net buyers of Japanese equities for all of January. Prime Minister Koizumi spoke today about labour market reforms. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.16% today to close at ¥11,389.35. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.90 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥135.80 level and was supported around the ¥134.90 level. Stops were triggered above the ¥135.55 level. In Chinese news, the Chinese government was critical of U.S. legislation that would afford China six months to revalue its currency or face a 27.5% tariff on all Chinese manufactured goods. Malaysia today indicated it will not now revise its ringgit peg mechanism but may do so later to ensure Malaysia does not lose international competitiveness.

The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8770 level after spiking to the $1.8915 level during North American dealing. Data released in the U.K. today saw house prices climb 0.8% m/m in January and were up 13.7% y/y. These data showed decent increases but when viewed in proper perspective, the annualized rate represents a 22.1% decline since July 2004 and it represents the lowest annual rate since December 2001. This corresponds with data released last week that showed Nationwide’s annualized house prices were up 12.6% y/y in January, the lowest level in there years. The deceleration in housing price inflation, if sustained, means Bank of England is more likely to meet its inflation target in two years and has a neutral or downward bias on interest rates and the pound. Other data released today saw the CIPS services PMI index climb to 55.9 in January from 54.9 in December, exceeding expectations. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8740 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6885 level and was capped around the ₤0.6920 level.


The Swiss franc weakened substantially vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2050 level, its highest level since early November. Stops were triggered above the CHF 1.1975 level, pushing the pair to intraday highs. Data released in Switzerland today saw the December trade surplus print at CHF 120 million, down from November’s CHF 1.260 billion level, while January CPI came in at +1.2% y/y and -0.5% m/m. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.2070 level. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5600 figure and was supported around the CHF 1.5530 level.


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