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Saturday March 22, 2008 - 11:40:14 GMT

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Forex Research - What to Expect for the US Dollar

Friday, 21 March 2008 20:58:00 GMT

Written by Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist

• Eurozone Consumers Continue to Spend
• British Pound: April Rate Cut Will be a Close Call

What to Expect for the US Dollar
Markets around the globe were closed for Good Friday which led to zero volatility in currencies. After a week of wild swings, the quiet trading gives everyone an opportunity to think about what could impact the US dollar in the week ahead. Banks have not been shy about tapping into the Fed’s new liquidity provisions and the recent move in the stock market suggests that the central bank’s efforts have helped to temporarily ease the latest uncertainty in the financial markets. The demise of Bear Stearns could have led to a huge collapse in the stock market, but actions by the Fed have helped stocks end the week higher than its pre-Bear Stearns levels. The biggest problem in the financial markets right now is the fear of counterparty risk. By allowing investment banks to post a broader range of collateral for a longer period of time, the Federal Reserve has in effect, swapped their safe Treasury bonds for dodgier assets such as mortgage backed securities. Unfortunately this will only be a temporary solution to a serious problem which is why we haven’t seen the end of dollar weakness. Two weeks from now, we have non-farm payrolls due for release and the vulnerability of the labor market will come back to the forefront. Goldman Sachs just joined Citigroup in announcing a new round of layoffs. However before those numbers are released, we do have a week of only Tier 2 US economic data, or data that should not be particularly market moving. The most important releases are existing and new home sales, durable goods, consumer confidence, the final Q4 GDP numbers, personal income and personal spending. Everyone expects the housing market to remain weak, but consumer confidence could surprise to the upside since the weekly ABC numbers have shown signs of stability. The GDP numbers are the final figures for the fourth quarter, which means that they should not be particularly market moving. Therefore even though the US dollar could resume its slide relatively soon, the lack of any Tier 1 economic data such as non-farm payrolls, inflation reports or retail sales does not ensure that this will happen in the coming week. In the meantime, keep an eye on the equity and bond markets. If they continue to stabilize, the dollar could extend its rebound, but if volatility grapples the market once again, the dollar could quickly resume its slide.

Eurozone Consumers Continue to Spend
In contrast to the US, Eurozone economic data continues to surprise to the upside. Last month’s German retail sales report was strong and now we see that same strength extended to France and Italy. Consumers are spending which is helping to make the ECB’s job a much easier one than the Fed. No European bank is at the brink of collapse and for the time being, the economy remains stable. Next week, we have the German IFO report. Once again, analysts expect business confidence to deteriorate but the odds are definitely in favor of a stronger release. The flash estimates of manufacturing and service sector PMI both surprised to the upside which suggests that business for German corporations remained strong last month. Aside from the IFO, we are also expecting Eurozone Current Account numbers and retail PMI. The Swiss franc on the other hand has had a relatively good week with the liquidation in carry trades. The UBS Consumption and the KoF leading indicator reports are due for release next week. With retail sales deteriorating, we expect further weakness in the Swiss Franc which dovetails with our Technical Analyst’s call for a plunge in CHF/JPY.

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

British Pound: April Rate Cut Will be a Close Call
It has been a volatile week for the British pound with dovish Bank of England minutes and weak employment numbers offset by a much stronger than expected retail sales report. April’s rate cut by the BoE will be a particularly tough call. Following the minutes and employment numbers, the expectation for a 25bp rate cut next month increased significantly, but the retail sales numbers definitely came from left field. Therefore next week’s current account, house price and CBI distributive trades report will be particularly important in determining whether the retail sales number was simply a fluke or representative of a broader recovery in the UK economy.

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

Carry Trades Rebound But Don’t Count On a Broad Recovery

With the stock market closed for Easter, carry trades have extended their rise. If another shoe does not drop next week, we could see a further rebound, but a rebound does not make a recovery. We continue to stress that the current market environment makes it very difficult for carry trades to recover. It is also the fiscal year end for Japan, which means that repatriation could keep the yen under pressure. Meanwhile there are a lot of Japanese economic data due for release next week and we expect most of them to be Yen positive.

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

Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Dollars Continue to Slide Amid Lower
The Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars recovered slightly from their steep decline yesterday. Next week’s data releases imply continued volatility in the commodity currencies, as Canadian retail sales figures are projected to be higher in light of 33 year low unemployment figures and wholesale sales rising at the fastest pace in 13 months. In the backdrop of a suffering economy, consumers continue to be the pillar of confidence, as projections imply continued spending in the coming months. Down under the New Zealand trade balance forecasts remain positive, boosted by the surging prices in dairy export, but with the recent declines in commodity prices, it remains to be seen if the economy will still continue to show a trade surplus. Although New Zealand GDP forecasts imply growth in the economy, the country’s finance minister fears the possibility of a short lived recession, as consumer confidence dips to a 19 month low.

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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