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Tuesday February 12, 2008 - 11:15:59 GMT
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Forex Research - Euro: ZEW Bounces But Little Help; Pound CPI Reverses PPI -- Back to Easing For BoE?

Tuesday, 12 February 2008 10:44:02 GMT

Written by Boris Schlossberg, Senior Currency Strategist

The ZEW survey printed at –39.5 vs. –43.0 as investor sentiment bounced from 15 year lows, but the news provided only a modest lift to EURUSD and the pair was trading essentially unchanged on the day after the news hit the screen.

Talking Points

•    Japanese Yen: Trades up to 107.00 on general dollar strength equities quiet
•    Euro: ZEW bounces off 15 year lows
•    British Pound: CPI  cold BRC index shows some bounce
•    US Dollar: Monthly Budget Data, Investor sentiment on tap

The ZEW survey printed at –39.5 vs. –43.0 as investor sentiment bounced from 15 year lows, but the news provided only a modest lift to EURUSD and the pair was trading essentially unchanged on the day after the news hit the screen. Part of the reason for the non-response was the horrid decline in the current conditions gauge which slipped to 33.7 from 56.6 the month prior. The current conditions reading  suggests that the credit crunch that has gripped most of the G-10 universe may be exerting a particularly painful toll on the EZ economy which is further hampered by the restrictive monetary policy of the ECB.

In fact the current conditions reading which is derived by polling analysts, may have been a not-so-subtle appeal for relief from the EZ financial sector  to Mr. Trichet and company. The ZEW however, carries only a minimal impact on policy considerations and for a more complete picture of economic conditions traders will have to wait for next week’s IFO report to see if the deterioration of growth has reached the region’s industrial sector. Should that occur the ECB may become much more serious about considering the potential downside risk to growth that have developed over the past several months.

Meanwhile in UK, CPI data reversed all of the speculative gains from yesterday’s stronger than expected PPI print as it printed much lower than expected. On a core basis CPI registered a very timid 1.3% gain – far colder than the 1.5% forecast - and well below BoE’s 2% target rate. Tonight’s news confirmed cable bear’s argument that despite escalating price pressures on producers, pricing power in UK economy remains remarkably weak as consumers, burdened by record debt are beginning to curb spending. 

The CPI news stood in contrast to the latest report from the BRC released earlier in the night, which showed an jump of 2.6% on a year over year basis, the fastest pace in four months. Many analysts however noted that the gain in the retail spending was made at the expense of heavy discounting. In short, the latest economic data from UK suggests that revenue growth for UK businesses will be challenging while costs will continue to remain elevated putting a squeeze on profit margins. Under such conditions the BoE may feel compelled to ease more aggressively and sterling is likely to remain under selling pressure especially if tomorrow claimant count numbers begin to show a deterioration in the labor markets as well.

The North American session again has very little event risk as the US calendar is back end loaded with most of the key reports  beginning tomorrow. The general theme over the past several weeks has favored the greenback on the “growth” policy initiatives of the Fed as currency markets have focused less on interest rate differentials and more on possible severity of economic slowdown scenarios amongst the G-3. However, we think the attention of the market may begin to shift towards considering structural issues, if the TICS report due Friday shows a downside surprise.  Capital flows remain critical to the viability of US economy and so far they have been more than sufficient to finance the Trade Deficit. However, if the market begins to see signs of slowdown in investment flows for US financial assets that fact may be more important to the fate of the dollar than any slowdown in US economic activity and the EURUSD could resume its upward trend.
 
Will EZ slowdown as much as US? Join us in the EURUSD forum

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