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Wednesday September 8, 2004 - 16:35:25 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (8 September 2004)

The euro was volatile vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency spiked to its highest level of the week during the question and answer session of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan’s congressional testimony. In prepared remarks, Greenspan said the U.S. economy has “regained some traction” after “hitting a soft patch in the spring.” Also, he noted consumer spending and housing starts improved in July and added “early readings on retail sales in August have been mixed.” He also noted “non-farm payroll employment growth picked back up in August.” On the inflation front, Greenspan said “inflation and inflation expectations have eased in recent months” and said lessening non-oil import prices have “helped to lower core consumer price inflation in recent months.” The dollar fell sharply later during Greenspan’s testimony as traders pared back their expectations of additional monetary tightening during the current interest rate cycle. Traders continue to price in 25bps of monetary tightening at the FOMC’s monetary policy meeting scheduled for 21 September and many economists believe the Fed will not raise rates at its November FOMC meeting. News out of the eurozone today saw Germany’s Kiel Institute reduce its German 2005 GDP forecast but it raised its forecast for the current year and expects the ECB to tighten policy by 25bps in Q4 2004 or Q1 2005. On that topic, German Chancellor Schroeder today said Germany’s inflation rate “is the lowest in Europe, which is hurting us sometimes on the interest rate side.” EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Alumnia today said he believes Germany can reduce its budget deficit in 2005 to below 3% of GDP, the limit set by the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact. In other eurozone news, sources are saying eurozone finance ministers will announce a framework to establish a semi-permanent presidency of the “Eurogroup” from 2005. Euro offers are cited around the $1.2190/$1.2210.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥109.80 level after finding bids around the ¥109.30 level. The intraday high coincides with the former 61.8% retracement level of the move from ¥108.10 to ¥112.50 and may continue to cap the pair in the near-term. Data released in Japan today saw bank lending decline 3.1% y/y in August, the 80th consecutive month of declines following July’s 3.9% fall. Other data released today saw the August M2+CD money supply increase 1.9% y/y in August while July’s growth was downwardly revised to +1.8% from +1.9%. Traders continue to talk about and anticipate an upward revision to Q2 Japanese GDP data, scheduled for release on Friday. The Nikkei 225 stock index came off 0.17% to close at ¥11,279.19 while the TOPIX was off 0.05% to close at ¥1,144.13. Dollar bids are cited around the ¥109.25/¥108.75 levels. The euro weakened vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested bids around the ¥131.80 level and tested offers around the ¥132.50 level.


The British pound rocketed higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.7905 level, its first move to this area since Friday. Testimony from Fed Chairman Greenspan prompted the short-covering and stops were triggered above the $1.7845 and $1.7890 levels with other stops hit just above the $1.7800 figure, the 100-hour moving average. Data released in the U.K. today saw BRC shop price inflation fall to its lowest level in 2004, rising just +0.07% m/m with the annual rate falling to 0.63% from 1.18% in July – the lowest yearly inflation rate since July 2003. Traders await the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee’s interest rate announcement at 1100 GMT tomorrow with many MPC-watchers believing U.K. interest rates may be nearing a peak. The euro lost ground vis-à-vis the British pound today as the single currency tested bids around the £0.6780 level and encountered resistance around the £0.6830 level.


The Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.2790 level and moved to the CHF 1.2615 level during North American dealing. Swiss National Bank’s Hildebrand spoke today and said the central bank will “gear its monetary policy…maintaining price stability at all costs.” SNB’s next policy meeting and monetary policy assessment is scheduled for 16 September. Hildebrand also said the SNB “must take into account foreign exchange rates.” SNB released a Balance of Payments 2003 report today that detailed that country’s steep increase in its current account surplus. The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc today as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.5390 level.


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