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Monday August 2, 2004 - 15:44:59 GMT
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Forex Market News and Analysis (2 August 2004)

The euro opened higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2090 level on increased terror warnings in the U.S but later gave back most of its gains. North American dealers drove the pair to intraday lows around the $1.2030 level after the initial effects from the renewed terror threats wore off. The Department of Homeland Security specifically cited a few high-profile buildings in New York, New Jersey, and Russia as possible targets for terrorist activity and this news saw the dollar gap lower against most currencies when Australasian dealing opened last night. The single currency also gained traction on news that eurozone manufacturers increased production in July at their fastest pace in around four years with the purchasing managers’ index climbing to 54.7 from 54.4 in June, equaling May’s 43-month high. The FOMC is widely expected to tighten monetary policy by 25bps on 10 August as the recent economic data have been mixed. Today’s economic data saw June manufacturing ISM at 62.0, above May’s 61.1 level and above expectations. Some traders, however, noted a deceleration in the employment component to today’s report. Other data released today saw June construction spending slide 0.3%. Traders are paying close attention to this Friday’s July U.S. non-farm payrolls data to see how many new jobs were created last month and what the quality of those jobs is. The IMF said it hopes the Fed’s return to a more neutral interest rate regime is not “unduly delayed” and was critical of the U.S.’s large current account deficit. In fact, the latest OMB estimate is predicting a US$ 445 billion deficit for fiscal year 2004, around 3.8% of GDP and down from February’s projected US$ 521 billion shortfall. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.1995/85 levels.


The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥110.55 level after encountering resistance around the ¥111.40 level during Australasian dealing. The heightened terror warnings in the eastern U.S. saw the yen gain strength but its gains were limited and later erased by continued escalations in the price of NYMEX crude futures with the price of oil at one point reaching US$ 43.92/ barrel. The media were full of reports and speculation this weekend about consolidation in Japan’s banking sector but most of the reports focused on Japanese buyers so any activity is expected to have a limited impact. Data released in Japan today saw average wages earned fall 2.4% y/y, the second consecutive monthly decline. It was also reported that Japanese land prices are continuing to fall for the twelfth consecutive year though they seem to be moderating. The IMF is said to be ready to forecast 2004 Japanese economic growth around 4.5% - the same rate as its forecast for U.S. economic growth – and is said to be bumping up its 2005 GDP forecast to 2.4% from 1.9%. The Japanese press is reporting that the IMF’s report will suggest additional Japanese intervention “could be warranted” if more pressure emerges on the yen to appreciate. On the political front, former prime minister Hashimoto resigned as the head of the LDP’s largest faction to assume responsibility for a political fund scandal. The Nikkei 225 stock index slumped 0.91% today to close at ¥11,222.24, principally due to terror jitters. Dollar offers are cited around the ¥111.65 level. The euro was confined to rangebound trading vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥ 134.20 level and tested bids around the ¥133.70 level during North American dealing. Euro offers are cited around the ¥121.00 figure, some of which are said to be options-related.


The British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.8335 level on the heels of stronger-than-expected July manufacturing data. Cable initially failed to benefit from the terror warnings in the U.S., unlike other major currency pairs, but was reinvigorated when the CIPS PMI came in at 56.3 from an upwardly revised 55.0 in June. This vastly exceeded expectations by nearly two index points and it is also noteworthy that there were appreciable gains in the new orders index and the output index along with the employment index. These data suggest U.K. manufacturers are easily absorbing sterling’s appreciation, the recent hike in oil prices, and expectations of higher interest rates. It is also noteworthy that these data reflected almost ten-year highs in the U.K. manufacturing survey. There is some renewed speculation that Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee could raise rates by 50bps on Thursday but last week’s comments from Chief Economist Bean suggest a 25bps tightening is in the cards. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 0.6585 level after peaking around the US$0.6625 level.


The Swiss franc retraced all of its intraday gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2770 level during North American dealing after testing bids around the CHF 1.2690 level during the terrorist warning-induced sell-off. Swissy’s appeal as a safe-haven currency prompted traders to buy the currency. Swiss National Bank added one-week liquidity at 0.27% today. The euro was flat vis-à-vis the Swiss franc after testing offers around the CHF 1.5400 figure and testing bids around the CHF 1.5335 level.


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