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Wednesday June 16, 2004 - 14:18:35 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (16 June 2004)

The euro slumped sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2040 level after failing to get above the $1.2170 level overnight. Strong U.S. economic data added to the dollar’s gains today as it was reported that May housing starts were up +3.5% to 2.07 million. Also, May industrial production was up 1.1% while capacity utilization climbed to 77.8%. Traders are still talking about Fed Chairman Greenspan’s less-than-hawkish comments yesterday in which he seemed to cement the likelihood of a 25bps monetary easing this month. St. Louis Fed President Poole added “there's certainly not going to be any surprise this time about the general trajectory" while Fed Governor Olson said inflation remains “moderate.” Olson sounded like Greenspan in concluding “monetary policy accommodation will become increasingly less necessary over time and can be removed at a pace that is likely to be measured." Stops were triggered below the $1.2125/15 level during the move lower and dealers cited strong talk of Asian offers during the day. Data released in the eurozone today saw May EMU-12 HICP unrevised at +2.5% y/y compared with +2.0% in April. Also, Q1 total hourly labour costs climbed 2.3% y/y following a sharp downward revision to the Q4 rate. News broke during early North American dealing that another oil-related attack took place in Iraq but this is likely to have a major impact on the markets because Iraq’s oil exporting ability was significantly hampered yesterday. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2165 level with stops seen above the $1.2230 level.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥ 110.10 level after finding bids around the ¥109.25 level during Australian dealing. Stops were triggered above the ¥109.55 level during European dealing. Japanese trust banks were seen on the bid for dollars around the ¥109.25 level but it is unlikely yen-selling intervention was taking place. Offers around the ¥109.80 level were handily absorbed but the pair has not been able to get through the ¥110.15 level. MoF’s Mizoguchi declined comment on short-term movements in FX rates. Finance minister Tanigaki said the Bank of Japan should decide how to manage the market’s expectations and added he cannot determine whether deflation is ending. Traders are closely watching Japanese asset markets following the sharp rise in JGB yields. A 20-year JGB auction will take place overnight. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 2.23% today to close at ¥11,641.72, a six-week high. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.25/ ¥108.95 levels. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥132.30 level after peaking around the ¥133.25 level. Euro offers are cited around the ¥133.50 level ahead of additional resistance seen around the ¥134.25 level. In Chinese news, producer prices for manufactured goods rose 0.2% m/m and 5.7% y/y in May. The y/y increase represented the highest growth rate in three years.


The British pound found good demand around the US$ 1.8245 level today after the U.S. dollar gained a quick 100 pips. Cable gained a small amount of ground on news that the May claimant count of unemployment fell 12,000, more-than-expected, while April three-month headline average earnings also receded to 4.4% from 5.2% y/y. The 2.8% unemployment rate in May was the lowest since May 1975. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8235 level with offers around the $1.8350/ 80 levels. The euro weakened sharply vis-à-vis the British pound today as the cross fell to £0.6575 after peaking around the £0.6640 level. Euro bids around the £0.6600 figure were absorbed and euro offers are cited around the £0.6645/65 levels.


The Swiss franc weakened dramatically vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as traders positioned themselves ahead of tomorrow’s Swiss National Bank policy announcement. The pair rose to test offers around the CHF 1.2655 level after finding bids around the CHF 1.2475 level. There is a growing consensus that central bank policymakers will not tighten policy but will instead prepare the market for an eventual tightening. SNB added one-week liquidity at 0.11% today, the same rate it has used since 2 April 2003. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5270 level.


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