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Forex: Yen Continues To Shake Off Surges In Oil Prices

DailyFX Fundamentals 10-22-04

By Kathy Lien,

·Federal Reserve Governor Yellen Becomes The Latest To Warn About the Dollar and Deficit
·UK GDP growth slows to 0.4%
·Yen Continues To Shake Off Surges In Oil Prices


Overall it was a pretty slow day in the currency markets today. It has been some time since the euro spent an entire week moving higher with no retracements. Federal Reserve Governor Yellen was the fifth Fed official to date to raise the issue of the deficit and the US dollar. The recent collusion of comments suggests that the Federal Reserve is trying to draw attention to the fact that dollar’s decline should not be a grave concern since it is needed to help adjust the trade deficit. In addition, Yellen noted that the value of the dollar is still “relatively high.” Although the trade-weighted dollar has not retraced as much as it has against the euro alone, the Fed’s lack of concern makes an ECB intervention even less plausible. This is especially true since the rally in the euro helps to offset some of the inflationary pressure created by rallying oil prices. Meanwhile, the euro once again shook off weaker economic data. Italian retail sales fell –0.1% m/m and –1.9% y/y while Eurozone industrial orders fell –0.6% m/m. Consumer confidence has only just begun to rebound therefore a delayed pickup in spending is not surprising. Inflation increased in both Germany and France, but the euro barely budged on the data.


Although we expect the dollar to remain weak in the week ahead, there is sufficient US economic data due for release next week that could prompt a retracement in the greenback. This includes consumer confidence, durable goods, beige book, third quarter GDP and Chicago PMI. Durable goods and GDP are both expected to be stronger than the previous period, which could boost the dollar. However, we still believe that any retracements should remain shallow as the overall outlook for the US economy remains dismal at this point. Oil prices made another record high today in NY trading and as we have continuously noted, the surge in oil is taking a tremendous toll on the global recovery. Meanwhile in Switzerland, SNB Vice President Blattner indicated that rates remain very expansionary. This is a bit of a contrast from the comments made by SNB President Roth earlier this week. Roth had said that the SNB is “comfortable” with the current level of rates. Blattner on the other hand is eluding that although the central bank has raised rates twice this year, more could be in store as the SNB gradually normalizes interest rates.


Growth in the United Kingdom slowed from 0.9% to 0.4% in the third quarter, which is the slowest pace of growth in over a year. Higher interest rates, a slowing housing market, falling orders and weaker industrial production all contributed to declining growth. Any excitement drawn up from yesterday’s better than expected retail sales survey is likely to have evaporated with the weaker GDP report. The central bank has already hinted that we may be at the end of the BoE’s tightening cycle. The pound has retraced marginally on the report. If oil prices stay at their currently elevated levels, growth could recede even further. In the week ahead, there are barely any important economic releases from the UK aside from the Gfk consumer confidence survey and housing data. This means that the pair will once again be driven by dollar developments. The breakout in the pound has been significant although fundamentals and future interest rate trajectories does not necessarily warrant its current levels.


The dollar continued to slide against the Japanese yen today. According to our proprietary FXCM SSI (Speculative Sentiment Index), the market remains long USDJPY. However, over the past 24 hours, longs have fallen modestly while shorts increased marginally. Speculators have been net long since last Wednesday, when USDJPY was trading around 109.80. Although positioning is not extreme at this point, we speculate that we are getting closer to the pain threshold of many traders. A capitulation could cause a deeper slide in the yen. Thus far, the Ministry of Finance has remained absent from the market. Yesterday they expressed verbal dissatisfaction with the recent FX movements. Meanwhile, the yen continues to be immune to the rise in oil prices, which hit another record high in NY trading today.


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