The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.3745 level and was supported around the $1.3430 level. Traders are already focusing on Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls data for December. ADP reported U.S. private-sector employers shed 693,000 jobs in December, far worse-than-expected and considerably worse than the revised 476,000 private sector jobs lost in November. Many economists believe these weak ADP data may result in a non-farm payrolls loss of more than 650,000 on Friday. These types of results could result in additional monetary easing moves by the Federal Reserve. The Challenger layoffs survey released today indicated planned layoffs eased in December from November but were nevertheless up an annualized 275%. Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's December policymaking meeting were released yesterday in which policymakers indicated the economy faces substantial risks even though benchmark official interest rates have been reduced to near zero per cent. Fed officials concluded the economy likely contracted sharply in Q4 2008 and will do so again in Q1 2008, if not longer. The Fed also downwardly revised its 2009 forecasts for economic activity and is projecting a moderate recovery in 2010. Additionally, officials discussed new lending programs and acknowledged the Fed's balance sheet will likely remain at elevated levels for some time as the Fed conducts quantitative easing measures to try and keep borrowing costs low. In eurozone news, EMU-15 November producer prices notched a record monthly decline, off 1.9% m/m and up 3.3% y/y. Most traders believe the European Central Bank could cut rates around 50bps next week but are mindful that ECB President said the bank's cumulative 175bps of easing since October have not been fully felt. ECB member Gonzalez-Paramo said the ECB will continue to establish policy orientated towards its credibility in guaranteeing medium term price stability while ECB member Constancio yesterday said the ECB should preemptively reduce rates to prevent inflation falling too far below 2%. Data released in Germany today saw December unemployment rise for the first time since February 2006, up 18,000. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3055 level.
The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥92.45 level and was capped around the ¥94.15 level. The pair continues to orbit the ¥92.70 level, representing the 23.6% retracement of the move from ¥110.65 to ¥87.10. The Japanese press reported the government is considering providing cash injections to 40 or more regional banks to stimulate lending and counter the credit crunch. Dealers are also closely monitoring any news regarding an additional fiscal stimulus along with details of the political problems faced by Prime Minister Aso. The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.74% to close at ¥9,239.24. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥104.15 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥125.80 level and was capped around the ¥127.65 level. The British pound moved higher vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested offers around the ¥140.55 level while the Swiss franc moved higher vis-à-vis the yen and tested offers around the ¥85.25 level. The Chinese yuan strengthened vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8330 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 6.8370.
The British pound moved sharply higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested offers around the US$ 1.5280 level and was supported around the US$ 1.4805 level. Sterling extended recent gains despite weaker-than-expected U.K. economic data. First, December annual British Retail Consoritum shop price inflation came off to 0.5% from 2.7% in November, the lowest print since September 2007. Second, VocaLink reported December annual growth in take-home pay fell to its lowest level in nearly a year at 2.9% from 3.5% in November. Third, the number of U.K. workers obtaining work and demand for workers fell last month at its sharpest rate since at least 1997. The REC permanent job placement index fell for a ninth consecutive month to 28.6. Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee is expected to reduce interest rates tomorrow by at least 50bps. Chancellor Darling indicated the U.K. is far from through with the current recession and it is expected the economy could contract between 0.75% and 1.25% this year. Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.3920 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the ₤0.8960 level and was capped around the ₤0.9175 level.
The Swiss franc appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the CHF 1.0870 level and was capped around the CHF 1.1210 level. A Credit Suisse survey published today indicates Swiss retailers expect rising retail sales in 2009 despite the current economic recession. U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1330 level. The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested bids around the CHF 1.4930 level while the British pound gained ground vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as sterling tested offers around the CHF 1.6755 level.