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Friday August 27, 2004 - 15:37:13 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (27 August 2004)

The euro lost ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency slumped to the US$ 1.2065 level after encountering resistance around the $1.2135 level. An apparent end to the Najaf crisis saw militant cleric al-Sadr turn over keys to the holy shrine in the Iraqi city that has been the focus of traders worldwide. This prompted some dollar buying on the notion of less terrorism and lower oil prices. This sentiment, however, was countered by further attacks against Iraqi pipelines by saboteurs and news out of Russia that FSB has found traces of explosives in at least one of two airplanes that crashed this week – heightening the prospects of more global terrorism. Data released in the U.S. today saw Q2 GDP downwardly revised to +2.8% from +3.0%, around economists’ expectations. Notably, real final sales were downwardly revised to +2.1% from +2.8% and Q1’s rate of +3.3%. Technically, there is a four-month support line around the $1.2125/ 30 level that warrants attention. Other data released in the U.S. today saw the final August University of Michigan consumer sentiment index at 95.9 from a preliminary 94.0 level. Data released in the eurozone saw GfK German consumer sentiment revised down in August with a bearish forecast for September’s level. Also, German plant and equipment orders rose a mere 1% y/y in July following several months of strong annualized gains. Notably, the German government is said to have raised its 2004 debt-to-GDP forecast to 3.7% from 3.25%. This is bad news for the German economy and calls into question its ability to meet the 3.0% ceiling imposed by the Stability and Growth Pact. Traders await comments from Fed Chairman Greenspan in Jackson Hole today. Euro offers are seen around the $1.2165/85 levels.


The yen gained a modest amount of ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥109.00 figure and failed to reach the ¥109.80 level during Australasian dealing. A decline in October NYMEX crude futures that saw the bid fall below the $43.00 figure prompted yen buying overnight despite the release of economic data that reconfirmed the view about a slowdown in the Japanese economy. Deflation is still menacing Japan as it was learned that the nationwide July core CPI rate and Tokyo August core CPI rate both fell 0.2%. Even if deflation ends, Bank of Japan policymakers will want to see months of stable prices before unwinding Japan’s long-standing quantitative easing policy. Other data released overnight saw the July unemployment rate rise to 4.9% while workers’ household spending came in at +2.9% y/y. Options traders cite ¥109.50 and ¥110.00 strikes that will mature at 1400 GMT today. Finance minister Tanigaki remained optimistic despite these weaker economic data saying the overall economy continues to recover steadily. The Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.72% to close at ¥11,209.59. Dollar stops are cited below the ¥108.95/ 70 levels and dollar offers are seen around the ¥109.80/110.00 levels. Dollar bids are seen around the ¥108.50 level. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥132.00 figure and was unable to get through the ¥132.90 level overnight. The ¥132.00 is cited as an option barrier by some traders. Euro offers are seen around the ¥132.90 and ¥133.20 levels.


The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7930 level after briefly spiking to the $1.8040 level during Australasian dealing. Data released in the U.K. today saw Q2 GDP unrevised at +0.9% q/q and +3.7% y/y. While the headline data were unrevised, the components of these data were noteworthy. Household spending climbed +1.1% q/q and was up 3.2% y/y. This represented the highest quarterly household spending growth rate since Q3 2001 and was up sharply from the Q1 level. Other data saw the GfK U.K. consumer confidence barometer at -5 in August from -3 in July and this represented the lowest level since December 2003. Also, John Lewis total store sales came in at +5.8% in the week to 21 August. Cable offers are seen around the $1.8035/ 65 levels and cable bids are seen around the $1.7930 level. The euro came off vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6705 level after running out of steam around the £0.6735 level. Euro offers are cited around the £0.6745/55/85 levels.


The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2820 level, its highest level since 4 August 2004. Swiss National Bank added two-week liquidity at 0.25% today compared with yesterday’s one-week repo rate offering of 0.26%. Dollar bids were seen around the CHF 1.2695 level during European dealing. In other news, a Swiss government agency reaffirmed its 2004 GDP forecast of +1.8% and a 2005 GDP forecast of +2.3%. The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.525 level.


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