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Tuesday July 20, 2004 - 13:48:50 GMT
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Forex Market News and Analysis (20 July 2004)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2360 level after encountering offers around the $1.2455 level. Many traders are sidelined ahead of this afternoon’s congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Greenspan. The Fed chief is expected to speak positively about the U.S. economy despite the recent deceleration in U.S. economic activity. Most importantly, Greenspan is expected to continue to promote the “measured pace” of interest rate hikes mantra that has defined Fed policy over the past several months. If the markets draw some wrong conclusions from Greenspan’s testimony – as they have in the past – Greenspan will have an opportunity to elucidate his remarks in testimony tomorrow. Most market participants believe the Fed will continue with a 25bps monetary tightening on 10 August and a 50bps hike in 2004 now seems like an impossibility. Minneapolis Fed President Stern was on the wires yesterday saying a “measured” course of rate hikes is still his top choice and added he “expects growth to continue at probably 4% plus going forward and that will be accompanied by further gains in employment and by inflation that will look low in almost any reasonable historical context [he] can think of.” The single currency hit stops and moved to an intraday high following stop-loss sales in U.S. dollar/ Swiss franc. Dealers expressed surprise when German economic data were released that saw the ZEW main business expectations index come in at 48.4 in July, exceeding expectations and far above a 44.0 whisper number. France’s current account registered a deficit of €729 million in May after posting a surplus in April while the German banking association raised its 2004 German GDP growth forecast to 1.75% from +1.5% and kept its 2005 forecast at 1.75%. Data released in the U.S. today saw June housing starts off 8.5% while building permits were down 8.2%, the latest indication of a slowdown in the residential sector of the economy. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2460 level and are said to be linked to IMM names and options-related orders. There is also chatter about larger offers around the $1.2540/50 levels.


The yen lost some ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥108.75 level after finding bids around the ¥108.20 level. The move higher was initially slowed by offers around the ¥108.50 level but some stops were hit and the pair moved another 25 points higher before retracing some gains. Options traders noted demand for one-week ¥108.00 dollar puts overnight. Dealers reported liquidity levels that were closer-to-normal than Monday’s muted levels following Japan’s market holiday yesterday and Greenspan’s testimony today. Traders await remarks from Bank of Japan Governor Fukui later in the week along with some light economic data. The Nikkei 225 stock index fell 1.55% to close at ¥11,258.37. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥108.85 level with stops seen above the ¥109.10 level. Dollar bids are seen around the ¥108.00 figure with stops below that area ahead of additional demand around the ¥107.75 level. An option barrier is seen around the ¥107.50 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥134.25 level after running into offers around the ¥135.40 level. Stops were triggered below the ¥134.50 level and euro offers are cited around the ¥135.60 level.


The British pound came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8540 level after failing to get above the $1.8690 level earlier in the session. The RICS survey was released today and it revealed that house prices climbed at their slowest pace in ten months in June, one indication that the Bank of England’s most recent interest rate hikes are having an effect. Traders await similar data from Halifax and Nationwide to see if mortgage activity indicators evidence a similar pullback. Other data released today saw the June public sector net cash requirement at £10.619 billion compared with £10.156 billion in June 2003 while M4 bank lending was up £10.7 billion. The euro traded in a fairly narrow range vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6655 level after testing offers around the £0.6685 level. German and Swiss names were not able to push the cross through stops seen just above the £0.6685 level. Euro bids are seen around the £0.6630/15 levels.


The Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2400 figure after testing bids around the CHF 1.2270 level. Stops were triggered above the CHF 1.2325/50 levels during the move higher. Swiss National Bank added one-week liquidity at 0.29%, the same repo offering it made yesterday. Dollar offers are seen around the CHF 1.2390 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5340 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5270 level.


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