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Wednesday August 18, 2004 - 13:24:48 GMT
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Forex Market News and Commentary (18 August 2004)

The euro spiraled lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2315 level during early North American dealing after being unable to move through the $1.2365 level during European dealing. Part of the move lower was precipitated by the released of EMU-12 July HICP that were downwardly revised to +2.3% from the flash estimate of +2.4% y/y. Also, headline HICP fell 0.2% m/m in July after June’s flat reading. Major selling was cited by a Middle Eastern account during early European dealing and this coincided with the common currency’s 50 point decline. Some € 2 billion was said to have been sold by the market player there. Other data released today saw France’s trade deficit narrow in June to -€304 million from -€336 million. There are not many data schedule for release in the eurozone or U.S. today so the markets are taking their cues from technicals and the oil markets. Traders will pay close attention to tomorrow’s many U.S. data scheduled for release. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2290 level with stops below this area.


The yen gave back some of its gains vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback clawed its way higher from the ¥109.75 level and tested offers around the ¥110.00 figure during early North American dealing. The pair’s rebound coincided with a rebound in NYMEX crude futures with the front-month moving to the US$ 46.45 level again. Traders are looking to see if oil will be able to get through the $47.00 figure and are wondering if the markets will overshoot towards the US$ 50.00 level. There are two major themes on the minds of crude traders now and therefore are being watching by yen traders. First, the Russian government shot down a delay request from Yukos and seems to be moving ahead with a sale of some Yukos units. Traders are concerned this may limit oil production in Russia. Second, there is still unrest and charges of fraud in Venezuela following this Sunday’s referendum despite the relative peace that has been maintained and President Carter’s certification of the vote. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.45% to close at ¥10,775.26. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.70 level with stops below the ¥109.60 level. Dollar offers are seen around the ¥110.25/40 levels. The euro slumped vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥135.20 level after failing to pierce the ¥136.00 figure overnight.


The British pound extended its recent sell-off vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.8215 level after encountering resistance around the $1.8300 figure overnight. Decent stops were hit below the $1.8250 level during sterling’s slide. Cable’s heaviness resulted from some relatively dovish August Bank of England MPC meeting minutes with the central bank disputing the view that it should aggressively use monetary policy to bring inflation back to target more rapidly. The MPC said “the degree of fine tuning entailing more volatile demand growth, was neither feasible nor desirable.” One policymaker voted for the 25bps increase on account of the “continuing rapid growth of household debt.” Policymakers did not discuss a 50bps hike. Cable bids are cited around the $1.8210/$1.8190 levels. The euro retraced most of its intraday losses vis-à-vis the British pound after testing bids around the £0.6740 level.


The Swiss franc extended its losses vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2475 level after finding demand around the CHF 1.2425 level. Traders are paying very close to EuroSwiss interest rate futures with three-month rates now discounting only a 25bps monetary tightening by Swiss National Bank through the end of the year compared with recent expectations of a 50bps tightening. SNB will issue its next quarterly policy assessment on 15 September. SNB added one-week liquidity at 0.25% today, one point lower than Tuesday’s repo offering. The euro came off vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5340 level.


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