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Friday September 3, 2004 - 14:27:23 GMT
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Forex Market News and Commentary (3 September 2004)

The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2080 level after encountering resistance around the $1.2195 level following the release of the U.S. non-farm payrolls data. August non-farm payrolls climbed +144,000 with the unemployment rate at 5.4% and average hourly earnings up +0.3%. Most job growth was reported in the service sector industries and economists also noted upward revisions to July’s number from +32,000 to +72,000 and June’s number from +78,000 to +96,000. The August headline number was consistent with expectations for the first time in three months and many traders actually anticipated a decent number today following President Bush’s references to jobs creation in his formal nomination acceptance speech last night. Data released later in the U.S. session saw the August non-manufacturing employment index move to 52.5 from 50.0 in July while the new orders index fell to 58.6 from 66.4. Overall, the headline ISM non-manufacturing index came in at 58.2 compared with 64.8. Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-12 services PMI fall 0.8 points to 54.5, below more forecasts. The slowdown was attributable to a rise in oil prices. Also, EMU-12 July retail sales gained +0.4% m/m and +1.1% y/y and June’s data were upwardly revised to +2.1%. Notably, the EU Commission adopted Stability and Growth Pact reform proposals today in an attempt to make the Pact more flexible. Such changes will probably be opposed strongly by the European Central Bank. The French media today reported the IMF will likely reduce its 2005 GDP growth forecast to +2.3%. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2035 level.


The yen weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥109.90 level and was supported around the ¥109.10 level. The pair gapped from the ¥109.15 level to the ¥109.85 level after the U.S. non-farm payrolls data were released and later moved below the ¥109.50 level. Data released in Japan overnight saw average consumption spending by Japanese households rise 1.1% y/y in July after June’s 2.6% decline. In contrast, July consumption spending was off a real 0.5% m/m. The Nikkei 225 stock index fell 1.17% to close at ¥11,022.49 while the TOPIX lost 1.14% to close at ¥1,124.65. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥108.75 level and dollar offers are seen around the ¥110.45/50 levels. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥132.40 level and was capped around the ¥133.60 level. Major stops were hit below the ¥132.80 level after the release of the U.S. non-farm payrolls data.


The British pound weakened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar for the third straight day today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.7780 level after running out of steam around the $1.7935 level. The move lower was precipitated by a fall in Halifax house prices in August with the monthly number off 0.6%. This represented the first time the Halifax survey registered a monthly fall since August 2002and was the largest monthly decline since December 2000. These data are consistent with other recent U.K. house price data and the Bank of England’s expectations of slower house price activity. An FT survey released today saw house prices rise as their slowest pace since May 2003. Additionally, the headline CIPS August services PMI came in at 56.9 last month, up from 56.2 in July and contrast with this week’s earlier evidence of a slowing manufacturing sector. The euro weakened marginally vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6785 level after encountering resistance around the £0.6815 level.


The Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2695 level after being supported around the CHF 1.2580 level. Today’s move back to the CHF 1.2685 level was technically significant because it represents the 50% retracement of the 2004 range. The euro slumped vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.5315 level after encountering resistance around the CHF 1.5360 level.


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