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Friday February 4, 2005 - 15:55:38 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (4 February 2005)

The euro came off modestly vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency experienced volatile trading conditions immediately following the U.S. January non-farm payrolls data’s release. It was reported that non-farm payrolls increased 146,000 last month, breaking the February 2001 peak. These data mean net job creation during President Bush’s first four-year term reached 119,000, meaning he narrowly avoided being the first U.S. President since Hoover to president over net job losses. The unemployment rate receded from 5.4% to 5.2% last month, the lowest level since September 2001 and not too far from economists’ technical definition of “full employment.” Also, average hourly earnings climbed +0.2%. Albeit the headline non-farm payrolls number was less-than-expected, the euro was unable to sustain its spike to the $1.3040 level and quickly dove to the $1.2915 level before moving back to the $1.2960 level. The move lower was precipitated by a speech on exchange rates and the U.S. current account deficit from Fed Chairman Greenspan in London. Greenspan’s comments were partially a volte-face from his November comments in Berlin where he pessimistically spoke about the deficit. He today said “market pressures” may reduce the current account deficit and cited Asian purchases of U.S. debt, increasing exports, and a possibly reduced U.S. budget deficit as positive factors that would reduce the imbalance. He also added higher interest rates may lower the deficit and said lower imports to the U.S. “may be approaching.” His comments about exchange rates largely focused on hedging. All eyes are on Greenspan and his G7 colleague at this weekend’s meeting of central bankers and finance ministers in London. Focus on the U.S.’s large budget and current account deficits is likely to take center stage, along with China’s eventual liberalization of its FX regime. China has made it quite clear, however, that no change in its yuan policy is imminent. European Central Bank President today said large euro moves are “unwelcome,” seemingly at odds with another unnamed G7 source who yesterday indicated the eurozone can tolerate a stronger euro. Dealers cited renewed chatter overnight that Russia’s central bank would be buying euros for dollars for reserves purposes. Other data released in the U.S. today saw the final January University of Michigan consumer sentiment index print at 95.5, less-than-expected and down from December’s final reading of 97.1. Options traders cite $1.2920/00 option barriers rolling off today at 1500 GMT. Data released in the eurozone today saw German December manufacturing orders climb 7.1% m/m following a 2.4% m/m fall in November. Also, EMU-12 flash HICP receded to 2.1% y/y from 2.4% in December while EMU-12 retail sales were up a marginal 0.2% m/m in December from a downwardly revised 0.1% m/m in November. U.S. Treasury undersecretary Taylor said he will reiterate the “important of (U.S.) budget deficit reduction” at the G7 meeting. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2930 level.


The yen moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥103.50 level and was capped around the ¥104.60 level during European dealing. The pair moved to intraday lows following the weaker-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls number as stops were triggered below the ¥103.80 level. Finance minister Tanigaki today said the G7’s communiqué is likely to reiterate last February’s Boca Raton statement on exchange rates and “not be drastically changed.” Options traders cited talk of a large ¥104.75 option position expiring at 1500 GMT today with further talk of larger options coming off next week at ¥104.00. Data released in Japan overnight saw the December coincident index at 33.3, down from 60 in November, while the December leading indicator moved to 40.0 from 36.4 in November. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.25% to close at ¥11,360.40. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.75 level and stops are seen above the ¥105.00 figure with bids seen around the ¥103.20 level. The euro came off sharply vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥134.25 level and was capped around the ¥135.60 level. Stops were reached below the ¥134.55 level after the market spiked above the ¥135.00 figure following the non-farm payrolls data. Euro offers are seen around the ¥135.80 level. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan today said China will discuss its yuan policy this weekend at the G7 if other policymakers want to. Zhou added China’s trade surplus with the entire world is relevant, not just its trade surplus with the U.S., and added China’s CPI was higher-than-expected in 2004. U.S. Treasury undersecretary Taylor today said all Asian countries should “move as quickly as possibly to a flexible exchange rate.”

The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8915 level and was supported just below the $1.8800 figure. Sterling spiked to intraday highs following the weaker-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls data but unlike the euro, has largely managed to sustain its gains after Greenspan’s comments on the U.S. current account deficit. Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown today said he will strive to keep the U.K.’s national debt down and added the U.K. economy is well-situated to weather economic cycles. He also added he will not “resort” to any pre-election spending spree ahead of the expected general election in May. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8765 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6855 level and was capped around the ₤0.6900 figure. Euro bids are cited around the ₤0.6850 level.


The Swiss franc lost marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2065 level and was supported right around the CHF 1.1950 level during its brief spike lower. Stops were hit below the CHF 1.2000 figure during the move lower but the pair quickly reassumed its upward direction. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2150 level. The euro lost ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5565 level but earlier printed around the CHF 1.5610 level. The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as sterling tested offers around the CHF 2.2720 level.


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