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Tuesday August 17, 2004 - 17:08:28 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (17 August 2004)

The euro weakened modestly vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2310 level after spiking to the $1.2390 level during early North American dealing. Data released in the U.S. today saw the headline July consumer price index down 0.1% with the core rate at +0.1%. These data were lower-than-expected and evidenced a moderation in recent inflationary pressures. Notably, this was the first decline in overall CPI since November 2003 but it is far too premature for economists to start talking about deflation again as the headline CPI has gained +3.0% over the previous twelve months with core CPI up +1.8% during the same period. These data saw a brief spike in the single currency as they suggest less pressure on the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy. Other data released at the same time saw a recovery in July new homes construction to 1.978 million units. Shortly thereafter, the Fed reported that industrial production grew +0.4% m/m and +4.9% y/y in July with June output downwardly revised to -0.5%. Manufacturing production climbed +0.6% in July and capacity utilization rose 0.2 percentage points to 77.1%. The euro came off during European dealing when it was reported that the German ZEW expectations index was down more-than-expected to +45.3 in August – the first such deterioration in three months and the index’s lowest level since July 2003. Traders will notice that there selling activity actually took place before the ZEW was actually released. Other data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-12 industrial output register a smaller-than-expected 0.4% m/m decline in June with Q2 output up +1.4% q/q after receding +2.6% q/q in Q1. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2280/55 levels.


The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥109.90 level, its lowest rate since 6 August. Relative stability in the oil markets contributed to the yen’s gains given Japan’s significant dependence on imported oil. Crude traded at an intraday low around the $45.63 level before retracing some losses and moving back above the $46.50 level. Stops were hit below the ¥110.20 level during the pair’s sell-off during North American dealing. More price activity was evident on the euro/yen and British pound/yen crosses with the latter staging a sizable 200+ point depreciation to the ¥201.00 figure. Data released in Japan saw the June diffusion index of coincident indicators at a revised 90.0, up from a preliminary 88.9 while the leading diffusion index registered 63.6, up from a preliminary 60.0 and above 50.0 for the tenth consecutive month. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.4% to close at ¥10,725.97 but still near the end of its recent trade range. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.85/75 levels with dollar offers seen around the ¥110.65 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥ 135.50 level after capping out around the ¥136.75 level. Stops were triggered below the ¥136.05 level.


The British pound weakened sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8260 level after spiking to the $1.8440 level during early North American dealing on the tame U.S. CPI number. Data released during Australasian dealing saw the RICS house price index fall to +3 in the three months to July from +17 in the three months to June. These data, if confirmed by other house price data, will likely have a downward impact on the pound for the foreseeable future as it would imply less housing market activity and decelerating final private demand. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8260/50 levels. The euro climbed extended recent gains vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested offers around the £0.6755 level after finding good demand around the £0.6705 level overnight.


The Swiss franc lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2480 level after finding decent demand around the CHF 1.2380 level during European dealing. Data released in Switzerland today saw July producer price inflation at -0.1% m/m and +1.3% y/y, numbers that are unlikely to prompt additional monetary tightening by the central bank. Swiss National Bank added one-week liquidity at 0.26% today, unchanged from Monday’s repo rate level. The euro appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5385 level and was supported around the CHF 1.5325 level.


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