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Monday August 9, 2004 - 14:55:39 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (9 August 2004)

The euro came off modestly vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2245 level after coming within a few pips of testing offers around the US$ 1.2300 figure, a level it nearly tested on Friday. The surprisingly weak July non-farm payrolls number that saw a mere 32,000 jobs created last month is on the minds of traders one day before the Federal Open Market Committee convenes to deliberate monetary policy. While most market participants expect the FOMC to announce a 25bps monetary tightening tomorrow, Friday’s NFP data changed the complexion of the fed funds futures market as traders are now pricing in three additional interest rate hikes in 2004 instead of four. There is a lot of chatter in the markets that the Fed will focus on oil prices in its statement tomorrow, expected at 1815 GMT along with the interest rate decision. Oil is on the minds of European central bankers as Bundesbank Chief Economist Remsperger this weekend said Germany will feel the pinch in consumer spending and economic growth on account of oil prices. These remarks were seconded by ECB Vice President Papademos who said the ECB still has no policy bias. Papademos said “The oil price trend creates inflationary pressures over the short term. If the oil price were to remain in excess of but not far above $40/barrel for some time, inflation in the euro area would exceed 2.0% per annum until the end of 2004 and for a few months in 2005. That being said, from our point of view, and taking account of the likely influence of all the determinants of price developments, we believe that annual inflation will average below 2% in both 2005 and 2006." Data released in Italy today saw the flash Q2 GDP number weaker-than-expected at +0.3% q/q and +1.1% y/y while industrial production in June was off 0.7% m/m and 0.1% y/y. Dealers are also interested in seeing tomorrow’s productivity numbers in the U.S. Euro bids are cited around the US$1.2200 figure.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥110.90 level following its sharp sell-off on Friday after the weaker-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls data. The move higher tested a technical level, specifically the 38.2% retracement of the move from ¥108.10 (20 July) to ¥112.50 (29 July), but did not test offers seen right around the ¥111.00 figure. The yen gained some brief traction overnight when it fell from the ¥110.60 level to the ¥110.10 level on stronger-than-expected Japanese core machinery orders that rose 3.9% m/m in June. Traders are paying close attention to this Friday’s April – June GDP data with many forecasts focusing on economic growth of 1.0% to 1.3%, just below the decent 1.5% growth rate seen in the January – March period. Some dealers, however, are speculating that the yen is unlikely to gain much ground if the GDP data are less than 1.5%. Still, an increase in economic activity would mark the tenth consecutive quarter of economic expansion. Bank of Japan began its two-day Policy Board meeting and is not expected to alter its monetary policy stance overnight. Traders will pay very close attention to this week’s corporate goods price index in Japan to see if a build-up in cost pressures continues. Other data released in Japan today saw the M2+CD money supply measure expand 1.9% y/y in July while Japanese bank lending was off 3.9% y/y in July, the 79th consecutive monthly decline. Dealers also moved out of yen overnight following news of the worst-ever Japanese nuclear power plant accident. Traders are looking to see if any radiation escaped the plant. The Nikkei 225 stock index fell 0.58% today to close at ¥10,908.70, below the psychologically-important ¥11,000 figure. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.75 level. The euro gained some ground overnight as the single currency extended recent gains and tested offers around the ¥135.90 level after finding bids around the ¥135.15 level.


The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8380 level after peaking around the $1.8465 level. Traders booked profits today following Friday’s 250 point gain in cable. Surprisingly, sterling gained little today after the release of stronger-than-expected U.K. core output prices that evidenced their largest monthly rise since September 1995 and registered their highest year-on-year rise since July 1996. These data suggest an increase in pipeline inflation. Overall, it will be interesting to see how Bank of England’s quarterly inflation report reads on Wednesday to see if the MPC has a less hawkish, more hawkish, or steady bent midway through Q3. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8365/35 levels. The euro gained marginal ground vis-à-vis the British pound today, testing bids around the £0.6650 level and testing offers around the £0.6670 level.


The Swiss franc came off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2575 level after finding good bids around the CHF 1.2495 level. Swiss National Bank added one-week liquidity at 0.26% today following Friday’s two-week offering at 0.28%. Traders are pricing in less chance of a monetary tightening by SNB in September with three-month EuroSwiss futures now pricing in a year-end rate of 0.75% compared with 0.86% on Friday. The euro gained some ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5400 figure before back-tracking later in the session.


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