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Tuesday February 8, 2005 - 16:27:03 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (8 February 2005)

The euro caught its breath vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2730 level, around yesterday’s multi-month low. The common currency was capped around the $1.2775 level overnight, unable to reclaim the $1.2820 level where it hit significant stops yesterday. Traders continue to move into dollars in a bid to chase the positive interest rate differential that U.S. assets now offer over eurozone assets. Also, President Bush submitted a budget to Congress yesterday that slashes the federal budget deficit to 1.7% of GDP by 2008 from 3.5% in the current fiscal year. Bush’s spending plan for the new fiscal year keeps discretionary expenditures below the rate of consumer price inflation and has been dollar positive as traders have awaited evidence that Bush is serious about tackling the U.S.’s massive economic imbalances. Traders are also purchasing dollars ahead of Thursday’s December trade balance number that is expected to show an improvement over November’s record -US$ 60.3 billion print. The Atlanta Fed’s average daily dollar index, a trade-weighted index against fifteen major currencies, rose 0.5% in January. Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-12 industrial output gain 1.2% m/m and 0.4% y/y in December. Data released in the U.S. today saw chain stores’ same-store sales rise 2.2% w/w in the week ending 5 February. Traders will pay close attention to today’s quarterly Treasury refunding auctions, beginning with US$ 22 billion in three-year paper. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2710 level.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥105.95 level, its highest level since 10 December 2004. Liquidity conditions were said to be thinner than normal during Australasian dealing on account of the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday. Japanese markets will remain open tomorrow and Thursday and close on Friday for a local holiday. The pair came off 40 pips during early North American dealing but quickly staged a recovery back above the ¥105.80 level. Many data were released overnight in Japan. December household spending fell a real 3.5% y/y, the fourth straight monthly decline. This follows the data release from two weeks ago that saw spending by wage-earning households recede by 3.8% in December. Overall household spending has fallen by 1.3%, 2.0%, and 1.0% over the previous three months, further evidence of weak final private demand. It was also reported that bank lending fell 3.0% y/y, the 85th consecutive decline and January M2 + CDs money supply rose 2.0% y/y. These data were overshadowed by a huge 91.3% surge in December industrial machinery orders to ¥676.2 billion, the second straight month of increases. The dollar initially had a difficult time getting through the ¥105 figure during Australasian dealing as option desks were said to be selling dollars on account of a reported ¥105 expiry. Finance minister Tanigaki talked up the U.S. dollar overnight, saying the Bush administration “has sent a clear message that it will halve its fiscal deficit in five years. It showed its sense of urgency that issues like social security cannot be left unsolved.” It was also reported that Japan’s economy watchers’ index climbed in January for the first time in six months but printed at 45.0, below the boom-or-bust 50.0 line for the fifth consecutive month. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.08% today to close at ¥11,490.43. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥106.20 level. The euro made a strong move to the upside vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested offers around the ¥135.00 figure. Large stops were triggered above the ¥134.40 level, pushing the pair to intraday highs and testing key technical levels that were given on Friday after the January non-farm payrolls data were released. In Chinese news, it was reported that China’s trade surplus escalated to US$ 6.48 billion last month as total exports rocketed 42.2% last month to US$ 50.77 billion. Notably, China has recorded consecutive trade surpluses since May 2004. Separately, it was reported that total Chinese direct investment overseas reached US$ 37 billion in 2004.

The British pound extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8510 level after peaking around the $1.8595 level. Sterling came off nearly 200 pips yesterday and appears headed for a fourth straight losing day. Data released in the U.K. today saw January BRC retail sales improve with like-on-like sales reaching their highest level since October. These data were closely scrutinized given the weak retail sales activity that reportedly plagued the U.K. over the holiday period. Other data released today saw Q4 Land Registry average house prices climb 11.82% y/y. Prime Minister Blair spoke today sand said his government is “reasonably optimistic” about domestic economic growth but cited the price of oil as a “potential problem.” Blair also said the government will not break its self-imposed “golden rule” on borrowing and investment. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.8430 level. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the ₤0.6885 level and was supported around the ₤0.6860 level.


The Swiss franc gained a small amount of ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2205 level after failing to get above the CHF 1.2250 level. UBS AG reported a better-than-expected Q4 net profit of CHF 2.021 billion, up from CHF 1.808 billion last year. This news led to some dollar sales. Swiss December retail sales and January SECO consumer sentiment will be released on Thursday. Dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.2260 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5580 level.


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