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Tuesday June 22, 2004 - 16:00:49 GMT
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Forex Market News and Commentary (22 June 2004)

The euro was confined to a relatively narrow range vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2065 level and was capped just above the $1.2135 level overnight. The $1.2105 level has been good intraday resistance and minor stops were reached below the $1.2070 level. The $1.2062 level that the market shied away from today is the 50% retracement of the move higher from Friday. Traders are closely watching geopolitical events to get a sense of direction. First, the terrorists who are holding the South Korean hostage in Iraq are said to have relinquished their demands today. Second, traders are beginning to position themselves ahead of the transition of sovereignty to Iraq on 30 June. Third, traders are closely watching the price of oil and related terror attacks to see if this impact the FX markets. Some financial institutions are reporting less trading activity ahead of the Fed’s interest rate announcement on 30 June. By some measures, volatility and implied volatility are unusually low at current levels. Data released in the eurozone today saw the German ZEW June German expectations index at +47.4 compared with 46.4 in May while the June current conditions index improved to -69.8. Also, German real construction orders were off 6.5% y/y but gained +1.8% m/m. French spending on manufactured goods slid m/m in May but improved on an annualized basis. In other German news, the federal government announced plans to raise its borrowing level in Q3 despite ongoing tensions with other eurozone countries regarding the EU’s Growth and Stability Pact. Offers are cited around the $1.2130/50 levels and euro bids are seen around the $1.2040 level.


The yen extended recent gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥109.00 figure before falling to the ¥108.40 level. More action was seen on the yen crosses overnight and they pulled the dollar lower. Options players cited an option barrier around the ¥108.20/ 00 levels with sizable 107.50/111.50 DNT option positions rolling off on 30 June and 14 July. Finance minister Tanigaki verbally intervened overnight saying the government is “on alert against rapid forex moves” but added recent moves have been stable. Tanigaki also told new IMF chief Rato that Japan seeks FX moves that reflect fundamentals, adding the relative strength of the U.S. economy has not diminished. MoF’s Mizoguchi seconded Tanigaki’s verbal intervention. Rato said Bank of Japan should still try to end deflation and added the government needs to be “vigilant” against the effects of high oil prices. Aggressive Japanese sales on the British pound/ yen cross also added to the dollar’s misery today with that cross off some 200 pips through early North American dealing. Traders are already starting to talk about next week’s tankan survey of corporate sentiment. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.16% today to close at ¥11,581.27. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥109.40 level and some stops are cited around the ¥109.10/25 levels. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥130.95 level after finding good offers right around the ¥132.00 figure during Australasian dealing. Stops were reached below the ¥131.30 level during the move lower. A sizable ¥131.00 option is said to roll off at 1400 GMT today. Euro offers are cited around the ¥132.10 level. In Chinese news, Premier Wen Jiabao said there are “clear” effects of China’s attempt to slow the economy and added China’s “overall economic condition is good.” U.S. Commerce Secretary Evans reported from China overnight that authorities are moving forward with flexibility in the yuan exchange rate.


The British pound lost substantial ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8180 level before finding some demand and retracing to the $1.8200 figure. Sizable stops were hit below the $1.8230 level during the move lower. Part of the move was precipitated by strong Japanese sales on the sterling/ yen cross rate that saw that pair off 2 yen at one stage. The move lower accelerated after U.K. mortgage lender Halifax doubled its U.K. house price forecast for 2004 but added it is already seeing a slowdown in the market and added the market would cool down in 2005. Halifax cited recent and continued Bank of England monetary tightening as one factor that will cause the residential real estate market to slow. This forecast is consistent with the BoE’s most recent quarterly Inflation report. Cable offers are cited around the $1.8300 figure and cable bids are seen around the $1.8150 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6650 level after finding good demand around the £0.6600 figure. Euro offers are cited around the £0.6660 level with stops below the £0.6600 figure. Additional demand for the cross is seen around the £0.6580 level.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2545 level after a brief spike lower to the CHF 1.2440 level during Australasian dealing. The pair also spiked above the 100-hour moving average during European dealing but could not hold the level. Swiss National Bank added one-week liquidity at 0.24% today. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the cross ignored strong Swiss industrial orders data and tested offers around the CHF 1.5150 level.


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