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Thursday July 29, 2004 - 14:38:24 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (29 July 2004)

The euro spiraled lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.1990 level, clearly on the defensive against the greenback. News of a rise in weekly initial U.S. jobless claims did little to hurt the dollar’s performance today as traders shrugged off the 4,000 person increase to 345,000 and weren’t overly concerned with a 174,000 increase in continuing claims to 2.96 million. Most market participants believe tomorrow’s U.S. GDP data will confirm whether this is a temporary unwinding of short dollar positions or whether the dollar will enter a strong trending phase higher. Tomorrow’s GDP data will be followed by next week’s U.S. July non-farm payrolls data. Other data released in the U.S. today saw the Q2 employment cost index rise 0.9%, as expected. This, however, was a deceleration from the 1.1% clip in Q1 of this year. These data suggest there has been some moderation in wage-related inflation, a datum that Fed Chairman Greenspan touched upon in testimony last week. The ECI was also consistent with findings in yesterday’s Beige Book that also reported economic activity expanded in June and early July. With the market having traded below the $1.2000 figure, there’s a focus on how far the pair may continue to drop. Some sell-side participants are citing large stops below the $1.1970 level while other believe a fall to the $1.1930 level cannot be ruled out. To add insult to injury, Dallas Fed President McTeer last night said the euro is probably being driven by “political,” and not “economic,” factors and added the eurozone is “not an ideal currency area.” Sources close to the European Central Bank also brought the common currency lower today with a story that the ECB is “not inclined” to change its current monetary stance for some time. Data released in the eurozone today saw preliminary Italian July CPI up marginally based on the estimates in eleven cities. Traders will pay close attention to John Kerry’s acceptance speech tonight to see if he gives any additional indication about his position to repeal the Bush tax cuts. Dollar bids are cited around the $1.1950/30 levels.


The yen extended its recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback cruised above the ¥112.00 figure for the first time in a couple of months and tested offers around the ¥112.40 level. Significant stops were triggered above the ¥111.90 level during the pair’s ascent. Many factors contributed to the yen’s weakness today. First, it was reported that June industrial output declined a larger-than-expected 1.3% in June, the first decline in four months. Second, capital flows data were released and they saw foreign investors become net sellers of Japanese equities in the five trading days ending 23 July. These data suggested there were net yen outflows of ¥569.7 billion during the relevant period. There were a couple of brief flurries of selling activity overnight but these only saw the pair tested demand around the ¥111.50 level. The yen has now been in a clear downtrend since 21 July and some dealers are already talking about tackling the ¥113.00 figure. Crude oil, on which Japan is heavily dependent, continues to trade at elevated levels up around the US$ 42.50 level and is also leading to a weaker yen. The Nikkei 225 sock index lost ground for the fifth time in six sessions today, shedding 0.78% to close at ¥11,116.84. The euro managed to test offers above the ¥135.00 figure today, reaching the ¥135.20 level after briefly testing bids around the ¥134.50 level during Australasian dealing. Stops were reached above the ¥134.90 level during the move higher. In Chinese news, People’s Bank of China claimed some initial success overnight for tackling the large credit growth that led to some economic overheating this year but added continued vigilance is needed.


The British pound extended recent depreciation vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids below the US$ 1.8100 figure for the first time in a couple of weeks. Major stops were hit below the $1.8220 level that pushed the pair to the $1.8155 during European dealing. Dealers focused on economic news that mortgage approvals slowed last month to their lowest level since July 2003.. In contrast, however, Nationwide reported house price inflation accelerated in July, up 2.1% from 0.9% in June. These data took the annualized rate to 20.3% from 19.1%. Notably, the level of total outstanding consumer debt in the U.K. exceeded £1 trillion for the first time in history, propelled higher by a £2.1 billion rise in new consumer credit in June. This increase in borrowing is clearly a concern to the Bank of England. The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is expected to raise interest rates next week in what would amount to its fifth monetary tightening since November. Many BoE-watchers believe the central bank will raise the repo rate by 75bps between now and early 2005. Other data released in the U.K. today saw GfK consumer confidence recover slightly in June. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8075 level. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6645 level after testing bids around the £0.6600 figure.


The Swiss franc lost modest ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2845 level before moving back to the CHF 1.2775 level during North American dealing. The pair briefly spiked lower to the CHF 1.2720 level during early European dealing but technical bids supported the pair around that level. Swiss National Bank added liquidity at 0.27% today, unchanged from its repo offerings of the past couple of days. There are market expectations of a 25bps monetary tightening by the SNB in September. EuroSwiss futures are already discounting this expected interest rate hike with three-month money rates of 0.77% seen by late September and 1.09% by the end of Q4. Traders await the release of the KOF leading Swiss indicator tomorrow at 0930 GMT. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5410 level after finding bids around the CHF 1.5355 level.


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