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Wednesday June 30, 2004 - 19:34:38 GMT
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Forex Market News and Commentary (30 June 2004)

The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2195 level and was supported around the $1.2070 level. The long-awaited Federal Open Market Committee concluded today and policymakers voted to raise the federal funds target rate by 25bps to 1.25%. The Fed reported its monetary policy stance remains “accommodative” and characterized recent “elevated inflation data as transitory.” Moreover, the Fed retained the “measured pace” language regarding its forthcoming interest rate hikes but said it will “respond to changes in economic prospects as needed to fulfill its obligation to maintain price stability.” Dealers said liquidity was reduced ahead of the FOMC’s interest rate decision with many players on the sidelines before the quarterly and half-year end. Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-12 June flash HICP ease to 2.4%, off from May’s 2.5% rate, while the EMU-12 June economic sentiment index fell to 99.8 from a revised 100.1 in May. The EMI-12 business climate index rose in June while German wholesale sales were down 4.0% m/m in May, the fourth consecutive monthly decline in the previous five months. Data released in the U.S. today saw the Chicago purchasing managers index at 56.4 in June. ECB Governing Council member Caruana spoke today and said the impact of oil prices on inflation will be “moderate” and said headline consumer inflation would decelerate back below 2% “in the near future.” Traders interpreted this as an indication that monetary policy will remain unchanged for some time. Many economists are now forecasting the ECB will be on hold until 2005. The ECB is unlikely to change policy tomorrow. Traders await many U.S. economic data tomorrow followed by Friday’s June non-farm payrolls data.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥109.40 level after finding decent demand around the ¥108.15 level. Traders took the pair higher on the last trading day of the quarter ahead of tonight’s quarterly Bank of Japan tankan survey of consumer sentiment. Some whisper numbers suggest the headline tankan index may be weaker-than-expected. Traders also dumped yen when the MoF reported it did not intervene in June and has not intervened since late March. There was a report overnight that MoF may issue fewer bonds through the end of June on account of higher tax revenues and this should cause less demand for yen. Bank of Japan released minutes from its 19-20 June meeting in which it voted to not change policy. Policymakers said it will eventually become necessary to clarify its long-term monetary policy and added they require additional time to determine if consumption continues to firm. Data released in Japan today saw May housing starts up +0.9% y/y while average wages earned by Japanese workers fell 0.8% y/y in May. Also, June manufacturing PMI fell to 54.3 from 56.0 in May with the June PMI output index and June new orders PMI both down. The Nikkei 225 stock index lost 1.94% to close at ¥11,858.87. The euro gained major ground vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥133.45 level after finding strong bids around the ¥130.65 level. In Chinese news, the Chinese government said GDP will slow to around 9% in 2004 while monetary policymaker Li Yang said the recent efforts to cool the Chinese economy may have gone too far.


The British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8180 level and managed to remain bid above the psychologically-important $1.8000 figure. The move higher was precipitated by upwardly revised Q1 GDP data that saw the economy expand +0.7% in Q1, upwardly revised from +0.6% with the annualized rate up to +3.4% from +3.0%. It was also reported, however, that household expenditures grew by only +0.6%. Many traders believe cable will fall in Q3 and H2 2004 on account of less scope for additional Bank of England tightening this year. Other data released today saw CBI retail sales decelerate in June following May’s torrid pace but the June rate remained the second strongest in two years. Stops were hit below the $1.8040 level during the early sell-off. Cable bids are cited around the $1.7975/50 levels. The euro improved vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6725 level after finding some bids around the £0.6780 level. A European central bank was seen on the bid for the cross on account of month-end demand.


The Swiss franc gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2495 level after failing to get above the CHF 1.2675 level. Quarter-end and half-end volatility was evident but traders also moved into Swiss francs when it was reported that the Swiss June KOF leading indicator of business expectations reached its highest level in some 3 ½ years in June, exceeding forecasts and pointing to further economic recovery in H2 2004. Swiss National Bank added one-week liquidity at 0.28% today, up from yesterday’s +0.27% level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5225 level after failing to get above the CHF 1.5305 level.


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