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Tuesday September 21, 2004 - 15:51:58 GMT
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Forex Market Analysis and Commentary (21 September 2004)

The euro gained ground vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as traders squared positions ahead of the FOMC’s expected 25bps monetary tightening. The single currency rocketed to the $1.2280 level – its highest rate in more than one week – after traders lifted the pair from the $1.2270 level. All eyes are focused on the Fed today with most traders expecting a quarter-point hike in the federal funds target rate. Attention will be focused on the Fed’s policy statement to see if it yields any clues as to the direction of interest rates through the end of the year and two remaining FOMC policy meetings. Data released in the U.S. today saw August housing starts climb 0.6% to 2.000 million units, above economists’ expectations. Also, the Redbook retail sales index for U.S. same-store sales rose 0.9% w/w in the week ending 18 September. The OECD today warned against an immediate depreciation of the dollar, saying it “might not be beneficial for the world.” ECB’s Tumpell-Gugerell spoke today and said she is confident the eurozone can avoid second-round effects from the recent spike in oil prices. ECB’s Hurley, in contrast, hawkishly said eurozone interest rates cannot remain low forever. Hurley said “There is a danger that this may be causing some participants in the housing market to associate the adoption of the euro with permanently low interest rates. Since most new mortgages are for periods in excess of twenty years, borrowers must take a long-term view of interest rates.” Data released in the eurozone today saw the July EMU-12 current account surplus expand to €1.8 billion even though the combined portfolio and direct investments registered a large net outflow. Also, it was reported that German construction orders fell 3.1% m/m and 13.9% y/y in July, extending the recent decline. Euro bids are cited around the $1.2150 level.


The yen depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the ¥110.20 level after finding bids around the ¥109.60 level during European dealing. Many traders were on the sidelines ahead of the FOMC’s interest rate decision with other market participants seen squaring their positions earlier in the day. Japanese traders returned to the market after yesterday’s holiday but will again be absent during Thursday’s national holiday. Japanese exporters were seen selling dollars around the ¥110.20 level today and the pair has been unable to get above the ¥110.40 level for several trading sessions. The Nikkei 225 stock index was off 0.01% to close at ¥11,080.87 while the TOPIX came off 0.23% to close at ¥1,116.02. Dollar bids are seen around the ¥109.40 level. The euro climbed higher vis-à-vis the yen today as the single currency tested offers around the ¥135.00 figure before settling back around the ¥134.90 level. Bids supported the cross around the ¥133.70 level. In Chinese news, U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow said it is “critically important” for international policymakers to focus on flexible exchange rate regimes. Snow’s were seconded by IMF’s Rato. G7 finance ministers will convene in Washington, D.C. in less than two weeks and China’s foreign exchange regime will be spotlighted ahead of the U.S. presidential election.


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