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Wednesday March 19, 2008 - 21:53:13 GMT

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Forex Research - Is it Time to Go Long Dollars?

Wednesday, 19 March 2008 21:30:38 GMT

Written by Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist

• Impact of Japan’s Fiscal Year End on the Yen
• Dovish BoE Minutes and Weaker Employment Numbers Drive GBP Lower

Is it Time to Go Long Dollars?
As we warned in yesterday’s Daily Fundamentals, dollar weakness is not over. However that statement is only true for the US dollar against the Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc and to some degree the Euro. This is because the US dollar actually strengthened against the commodity currencies and the British pound as risk aversion triggers dominates the currency market. Even though we expect the US dollar to continue to weaken against the Euro, Japanese Yen and Swiss Franc, we could see a further recovery against the high yielders. Being long dollars may not be the wrong trade if it is against the right currencies. Triple digit swings in the US stock market and 300 pip swings in currencies will make it very difficult for carry trades to recover. In fact, we are more bearish carry trades than we are the US dollar. Since the AUD/USD and NZD/USD are also carry trades, they are vulnerable to further weakness. The US dollar is now a funding currency for carry trades and it is important for traders not to forget that. Thankfully the Federal Reserve is not alone. According to Barney Frank, the Chair of the Financial Services Committee, the Treasury department is finally willing to discuss ways to help the hundreds of thousands of Americans facing foreclosure. Proposals by Frank include forgiving a portion of some of the remaining principal and insuring up to $300 billion in refinanced, affordable-cost mortgages. Capital requirements have also been cut for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which will allow them to use some of their excess funds to buy mortgages. This would add up to $200 billion of immediate liquidity into the mortgage backed securities market and hopefully the combination of efforts from the US government and the Federal Reserve will put an end to the market’s misery. Realistically, it will be some time before these plans are passed and any stimulus will also need time to filter into the markets. In the meantime, the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey and leading indicators are due for release tomorrow. The drop in the Empire State manufacturing survey to a record low suggests that we could see a similar move in the Philly Fed index. Leading indicators should also be dollar negative given the sharp deterioration in the US economy and in the stock market.

Impact of Japan’s Fiscal Year End on the Yen
US stocks gave back close to three quarters of Tuesday’s gains as risk aversion seeps back into the financial markets. USD/JPY plunged below 100, dragging pairs like AUD/JPY, GBP/JPY and CAD/JPY down with it. The futures curve is still pricing in a strong probability that US interest rates will fall to 1.75 percent by the end of June which means that traders expect another 50bp of easing from the Federal Reserve. Toshihiko Fukui is no longer the Governor of the Bank of Japan. His term officially ended today and Masaaki Shirakawa is expected to serve as acting Governor until two opposing parties in the government can agree to a new central bank leader. This is the first time in the country’s post war history that there is no permanent Bank of Japan Governor. Under a calmer market environment, this may have mattered for the Japanese Yen, but these days, risk aversion dominates. It is also important to mention that March 31st is the fiscal year end in Japan. Repatriation flow may help to explain the recent pressure on USD/JPY.

Visit the Japanese Yen Currency Room for resources dedicated specifically to the Euro.

Dovish BoE Minutes and Weaker Employment Numbers Drive GBP Lower

The British pound tanked against all of the major currencies today. The Bank of England minutes were dovish with only 7 out of the 9 members voting to keep interest rates unchanged; the two other members voted in favor of a rate cut. What was most interesting about the minutes was the sentence that alluded to the fact that the only reason why they did not cut interest rates was because they feared that cutting interest rates back to back would send a message to the markets that the MPC was focusing on the “downside risks to demand at the expense of inflation.” This indicates that rates will continue to come down, possibly as soon as the next monetary policy meeting. UK employment numbers were also weaker than expected with the improvement in jobless claims falling short of expectations. Tomorrow we have UK retail sales due for release. A drop in BRC retail sales and the disappointment in the labor market suggest that spending could be weak.

Visit the British Pound Currency Room for resources dedicated specifically to the Euro.

Euro Holds Steady, Despite Weaker Economic Data
The Euro held steady despite a wider trade deficit and cautionary comments from the ECB. According to Mersch, the Eurozone will hardly be able to escape a US downturn and the funding markets are becoming a growing concern. This is one of the first directly critical comments from the ECB, but until we hear a series of such comments, the Euro should still outperform the US dollar. Manufacturing and Service sector PMI numbers will shed more light on whether the Eurozone economy has been impacted by the latest slowdown. Continued resiliency will be particularly positive for the Euro.

Visit the Euro Currency Room for resources dedicated specifically to the Euro.

Drop in Gold and Oil Prices Drives Australian, New Zealand and Canadian Dollars Lower

The Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars tanked today as speculators poured out of commodities. Oil prices are down $6 a barrel while gold prices fell a whopping $38. The yellow metal is now below $1000 an ounce and the liquid gold (oil) is closing in on $100 a barrel. Australian economic data was slightly weaker than expected with the annual growth of dwelling starts rising only 2.4 percent. Canada reported a stronger than expected wholesale sales number, but that did not prevent USD/CAD from climbing breaking higher. Tomorrow we have leading indicators and international securities transactions, both of which we expect to be CAD negative.
Tell us what you think on the Canadian dollar Forum.




By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

Contact Kathy Lien about this article at [email protected]


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