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Thursday June 17, 2004 - 15:35:41 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 June 2004)

The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2040 level before taking it lower after the release of decent U.S. economic data. It was reported that the headline May producer price index gained +0.8% following a +0.7% gain in April and a +0.5% gain in March. The so-called core rate was up +0.3%. These data prompted some dollar-buying on the premise that the Fed may be inclined to tighten monetary policy faster. They have also ratcheted up expectations of a climb in U.S. Q2 GDP. Remarks from Richmond Fed President Broaddus overnight included “We now have credibility for low inflation, and we aren't about to give it up.” Other data released today saw weekly initial jobless claims come in at 336,000, below most forecasts, while May leading economic indicators were stronger-than-expected at 0.5%. In fact, eight of the ten indicators that comprise the index improved. Collectively, today’s U.S. economic data were positive and caused the euro to back-pedal to the $1.2010 level. Traders are also talking about yesterday’s Fed Beige Book report in which policymakers reported that consumer price increases were “generally modest” and added input prices continue to rise. Moreover, the Fed said “moderate” wage pressures are becoming apparent in some Fed districts. Data released in the eurozone today saw a smaller-than-expected 0.2% m/m climb in April industrial output but notably this remained above the Q1 average. Traders are also continuing to watch the situation regarding the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq and the recent disruption of Iraqi oil production.

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥108.90 level after testing offers around the ¥110.25 level. Stops were reached below the ¥109.90 level during the decline but the market reversed course from intraday lows and reclaimed the ¥109.75 level before U.S. economic data were released. MoF’s Mizoguchi overnight said “exchange rate movements within a limited range are acceptable.” Dealers have noted that Japanese exporters have been providing most of the directional liquidity in recent sessions. Options traders continue to cite the existence of large DNT options with legs at ¥107.50/¥111.50 that are said to roll off today and tomorrow. Other players note that a similar DNT is said to roll off at 14 July. Dealers also cite a lack of “follow-through” above the ¥110.00 figure. There are also reports circulating about sizable dollar stops below the ¥109.00 figure but it is know known if the move to ¥108.90 today absorbed all of these stops. A 20-year ¥600 billion JGB sale was held today and fixed-income dealers described it as “acceptable.” Capital flows data released for the five trading days ending 11 June evidenced net yen outflows of ¥671.3 billion for the period. Japan-watchers also note that FSA boss Takenaka has agreed to run on behalf of the LDP in an upcoming election, banking on the progress he has made in addressing significant financial problems. The Nikkei 225 stock index came off 0.29% to close at ¥11,607.90. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥108.80 level with stops seen above the ¥110.10 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥ 131.35 level after encountering a wall of offers around the ¥132.35 level. Stops were reached below the ¥132.50 level today. Euro bids are seen around the ¥132.00 figure and additional offers are cited around the ¥133.20/50 levels ahead of ¥134.25/50 selling pressure. In Chinese news, the central bank issued a signal suggesting it may wait for inflation to move above 5% before raising lending rates. People’s Bank of China Zhou also reconfirmed the central bank’s policy of maintaining a stable yuan.


The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8390 level before sinking lower to the $1.8290 level during North American dealing. Cable moved higher after the release of stronger-than-expected U.K. May retail sales data that saw sales volumes grow +0.8% m/m and +7.4% y/y. The annualized rate was at its highest level since June 2002. Chancellor Brown gave his annual Mansion House speech last night and said he will continue to seek U.K. fiscal discipline and support Bank of England’s tough decisions during the current global monetary tightening cycle. Brown also called for a more flexible interpretation of the EU’s Growth and Stability Pact because it needs to “place greater emphasis on the important of low and stable debt levels…and the ups and downs of the economic cycle.” Brown was also optimistic about the prospects for a soft landing in the U.K. housing market. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6550 level after testing offers around the £0.6585 level.


The Swiss franc made strong gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback reacted negatively to a monetary tightening by Swiss National Bank. The central bank raised interest rates for the first time in four years and noted the period when the Swiss economy suffered a double-dip recession is nearing a close. EuroSwiss futures continue to price in additional monetary tightening later this year. Many traders did not expect the SNB would pull the trigger today and got caught long dollars. Additionally, a massive car bomb attack in Baghdad saw safe-haven sales of the pair. The 25bps move was also made because the central bank stated it is concerned with the recent growth in inflation. SNB President Roth indicated he expects the economy will grow by up to 2.5% in 2005. Roth also said he does not think the rise in oil prices is having a threat to the economic recovery. Despite the tightening, the central bank said it “will adhere to its expansionary monetary policy and continue to support the upswing and to keep the attractiveness of Swiss franc investments low." The euro was off sharply vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5100 figure.


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