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Monday June 20, 2005 - 13:38:42 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (20 June 2005)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2180 level after gapping lower some 65 pips at the beginning of Australasian dealing. The common currency made a hurried move higher during Friday’s North American session, closing the week around the $1.2285 level. As expected, however, a budget deal was not reached in Europe over the weekend and EU President Juncker said “a profound crisis” has emerged in Europe. At stake are French farm subsidies, the U.K.’s multi-billion euro rebate, and enlargement of the EU. The budget stalemate – which covers 2007 to 2013 – follows weeks of political unrest in the EU in which French and Dutch voters decided not to ratify the EU constitution. Another reason for the softer euro today was an increase in rhetoric from the wing of Italian policiticans who favour a return to the lira, or at least a “parallel currency” alongside the euro. French Prime Minister Villepin echoed recent remarks from Luxembourg’s Juncker in calling on the European Central Bank to incorporate “foreign exchange concerns” into monetary policymaking. This recent pressure on the ECB to relax monetary policy from political quarters is disturbing and dealers wonder whether ECB President Trichet – who has recently indicated the central bank is currently neutral – will ease interest rates to contend with these brewing problems in the eurozone. Data released in the eurozone today saw Italian industrial orders climb +0.1% y/y while the Q1 unemployment rate printed at +7.9%, down from 8.0% in Q4. In U.S. news, Minneapolis Fed Governor Stern over the weekend said there is “no reason” for the Fed to stop tightening monetary policy now. Fed policymakers will convene on 29-30 June to discuss their next interest rate move. The U.S. current account data released on Friday saw a new record deficit of US$ 195.1 billion in Q1, around 6.4% of GDP. Last year, the markets would have sold the dollar on this news, especially since international portfolio flows into the U.S. were not large enough to cover this deficit in April. This year, however, traders are more focused on the U.S.’s positive growth differential over the eurozone’s and are more attuned to problems in the EU. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2230/ 35 level.


The yen moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥109.05 level and was supported around the ¥108.60 level. The pair gapped and opened some twenty pips higher during Australasian dealing and was supported around the ¥108.60 level later in Asian dealing. Minutes from the 19-20 May Bank of Japan Policy Board meeting were released today in which two members voted against the decision to keep the current account target surplus at ¥30-35 trillion. The central bank later agreed that the surplus could move below this range for technical reasons. The two policymakers wanted a reduction to a target of ¥27-32 trillion and this may be the next target range the BoJ selects when policymakers finally and gradually unwind the central bank’s long-standing quantitative easing policy. Traders are already talking about the quarterly BoJ tankan survey that is scheduled for release on 1 July. A Nikkei survey predicts the large manufacturers’ diffusion index will improve one index point to +15. Data released in Japan today saw May convenience store sales fall 1.9% y/y, the tenth consecutive decline. The Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.27% to close at ¥11,483.35. Dollar bids are seen around the ¥108.75 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥132.65 level and was capped around the ¥133.15 level. In Chinese news, the National Development and Reform Commission reported China’s economy is not showing any signs of a slowdown and will likely “maintain stable and relatively fast growth” while another economist predicts China’s economic growth rate will average 7.5% over 15-20 years. Data released today saw the country’s foreign exchange reserves total US$ 691 billion at the end of May, up around $20.2 billion from the end of April.

The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8230 level and was capped around the $1.8285 level. Sterling gapped nearly 50 pips lower at the Australasian open and failed to get above the $1.8290 level later in the day. Data released in the U.K. today saw public sector net borrowing at its highest level since at least April 1993, further evidence of a deteriorating in the U.K.’s financial position last month. Mortgage lending data released today by BBA, BSA, and CML evidenced a stabilization in mortgage borrowing but these associations reported house prices are likely to keep declining after last year’s rapid run-up. Traders await the June MPC meeting minutes from Bank of England this week to see if more policymakers are in favour of reducing interest rates. CFTC data released over the weekend saw the net short sterling position double last week to 16,949 contracts – the highest in some five years. Cable offers are cited around the $1.8270 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.6665 level and was capped around the ₤0.6710 level.


The Swiss franc moved sharply lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2695 level and was supported around the CHF 1.2615 level. The Swiss franc was also lower against other currencies including the euro, yen, British pound, Australian dollar, and Canadian dollar. Data released in Switzerland today saw industrial output fall 0.3% y/y in Q1, the first decline in nearly two years, and was off 0.4% q/q. Dollar bids are cited around the CHF 1.2640/ 25 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5415 level and was capped around the CHF 1.5450 level.


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