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Thursday August 5, 2004 - 17:35:04 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (5 August 2004)

The euro continued its rangebound trading vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.2075 level and was supported by bids around the $ 1.2020 level during early North American dealing. The pair has been locked in a $1.2120/ $1.1970 level for the past several sessions and reacted little to the European Central Bank’s decision to leave monetary policy unchanged. The meeting was conducted telephonically hence ECB President Trichet did not hold a news conference and the next meeting will not take place until 2 September. Shortly later, weekly initial jobless claims were released and they evidenced an 11,000 decline to 336,000, closer to the lower end of forecasts. Notably, unadjusted weekly claims were below 300,000 for the only the sixth time in the previous year. Claims for the week ending 24 July were upwardly revised to 347,000, up 6,000 from the previous week. All eyes are on tomorrow’s all-important U.S. July non-farm payrolls data with many private forecasts exceeding 300,000. A strong result will likely see the U.S. dollar back on the offensive across the board as some traders will immediately begin to discount an accelerated pace of monetary tightening by the Fed during the current tightening cycle. Most market participants still believe the FOMC will settle on a 25bps monetary tightening at Tuesday’s rate-setting meeting. U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow was on the wires last night saying he is not worried about the effects of another terror attack on the U.S. because the U.S. is a “strong, resilient country.” Data released in Germany today saw manufacturing orders plunge 3.5% m/m in June, reversing a two month trend. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.1970 level.


The yen extended recent losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥111.70 level and was supported around the ¥110.80 level. The pair is now above water for the week and has gained ground heading into tomorrow’s crucial July U.S. non-farm payrolls report. An increase in September NYMEX crude futures to the US$ 43.65 level dented the yen today as traders continued to price-in additional pain for the Japanese economy related to their mammoth dependence on crude oil imports. Some economists have been recently quoted as saying the price of crude could reach the US$ 50.00/barrel level before the spike higher recedes. Japanese data that saw the leading diffusion index ease to 60.0 in June from 63.9 in May also contributed to the yen’s woes today. The coincident index climbed to 88.9 from 70.0. Other data that were released today saw Japanese capital flows for the five trading days ending 30 July indicate significant net yen inflows of ¥406.3 billion during the period as Japanese investors were larger sellers of foreign bonds. Bargain hunters snapped up some Japanese equities today and lifted the Nikkei 225 stock index by 0.46% today following weakness earlier in the week. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥110.80/40 levels. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥134.50 level after finding bids around the ¥133.65 level during Australasian dealing. Euro offers are cited around the ¥134.90 level.


The British pound reclaimed most of its lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable made it back to the $1.8250 level after its drop following the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee’s 25bps interest rate hike. The MPC’s corresponding statement tugged in both directions saying “Although the housing market remains buoyant, there are now signs that it is starting to ease and the growth of consumption may be moderating.” Traders booked profits on that statement but the MPC did not shut the door on additional rate hikes by saying “underlying cost pressures have risen” and added “public sector consumption have both grown strongly and demand in UK export markets continues to pick up.” The NIESR today saw U.K. economic growth has been steady in the three months to July, growing at a 0.9% clip in the quarter. Other data released today evidenced a surprise fall in U.K. manufacturing output of 0.7% m/m, the largest since decline since October 2002. Similarly, industrial production was weaker-than-expected, off 0.3% m/m. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 0.6620 level and was supported around the US$0.6595 level.


The Swiss franc appreciated marginally vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.2735 level after capping out just below the CHF 1.2800 figure. Swiss National Bank added one-week liquidity at 0.28% today, consistent with recent repo offerings. EuroSwiss interest rate futures continue to escalate in reaction to the spike in oil prices. The euro weakened marginally vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5360 level.


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