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Thursday April 3, 2008 - 23:34:51 GMT

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Forex Research - Could March Non-Farm Payrolls Rebound?

Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:20:00 GMT

Written by Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist

• Euro Slips on Weaker Economic Data
• Looking Ahead to Australian Retail Sales and Canadian Employment, IVEY

Could March Non-Farm Payrolls Rebound?
The US dollar has staged a modest recovery over the past week on the relief that there have been no new blowups in the US financial sector. Stocks have rebounded and gold prices have dropped, which confirm that risk aversion is subsiding. However whether risk appetite continues to improve will be largely dependent upon the level of non-farm payrolls in the month of March.  Of the 10 leading indicators for non-farm payrolls that we typically follow, nearly all of the indicators point to another month of negative job growth, but only half of those indicators signals that the number of job losses in March will be greater than the -63k job loss reported in February. More specifically, jobless claims are on the rise, consumer confidence hit a 4 year low, Challenger Gray and Christmas announced a 9.4 percent increase in planned layoffs by US firms and strike activity cut 1100 jobs from US payrolls. On the other side of the spectrum, we had the rebound in ADP, the improvement in the employment component of manufacturing ISM (although it is still contractionary) and an increase in online job ads. The employment component of service sector ISM is usually a very reliable leading indicator for NFPs, but it held steady last month which makes NFPs a particularly difficult call. March non-farm payrolls could very well rebound, but we still expect the labor market to deteriorate further in the coming months. Over the past 3 decades, the US economy has gone through 3 recessions. In each of those 3 recessions, there was a string of job losses that lasted for a minimum of 10 months. Many people argue that the current downturn in growth could be more severe than the recession in the early 2000s due to the triple blow of a housing crisis, credit crunch and skyrocketing commodity prices. If this is true, we will see far more than 3 consecutive months of job losses. Also expect the level of job losses to climb because in each of the past 3 recessions, the largest single month job loss was more than 300k! In this context, a 100k drop over the next few months is not only realistic but practically guaranteed. The bankruptcies of ATA Airlines, which was once the nation’s 10th largest airliner and Aloha Airlines should lead to another 4000 layoffs. Although no other carriers face the risk of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the troubles at ATA and Aloha highlight the strain that high oil prices are having on the entire airline industry. On the eve of March non-farm payrolls, these layoffs confirm that difficult times lie ahead for the US economy.

Euro Slips on Weaker Economic Data
Incoming economic data suggests that the Eurozone is no longer immune to the affects of slower US growth. Retail sales for the region as a whole dropped 0.5 percent in February while service sector PMI was revised down modestly. Although we are beginning to see cracks in the Eurozone economy, they pale in comparison to the problems in the US economy. However the ECB may soon find themselves behind the curve. In January, we had indicated that the dollar could bottom in the second half of the year. Although that is now more likely to happen in the fourth quarter, one of the main things that we were looking for to trigger a turn in the greenback was a slowdown in the Eurozone economy. If the ECB begins cutting interest rates at a time when the Fed has already taken interest rates down to as low as they can possibly go given inflationary conditions, the twist of fate may actually carve out a long term bottom in the US dollar. However in the meantime, FX traders first have to contend with the March non-farm payrolls report and German factory orders for the month of Feb.

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

Looking Ahead to Australian Retail Sales and Canadian Employment, IVEY
The US non-farm payrolls report is the biggest event risk on the calendar for the currency market tomorrow but that should not draw away from three very important numbers set to be released from Canada and Australia. The pace of growth in Canadian employment is expected to slow materially after more than 40k jobs were created in January and February. Despite high oil prices, the slowdown in US growth will take steam out of the Canadian economy. We expect this not only to be reflected in the employment report, but also the IVEY Purchasing Managers Index. Australia will also be releasing their retail sales data for the month of February. Like Canada, employment has been hot and therefore retail sales are expected to be strong. Although the Reserve Bank of Australia has grown increasingly cautious, activity in the service sector continues to accelerate according to the latest PMI data.

Tell us what you think on the Canadian dollar Forum.

British Pound: Unfazed By Weaker Economic Data

Activity in the UK service sector slowed to the weakest level in 4 months, which led to some temporary weakness in the British pound. The currency quickly recovered however on the heels of a disappointing US jobless claims report. The Bank of England faces a tough decision next week when they meet to decide on interest rates. With activity slowing in both the manufacturing and service sector, the economy could use a rate cut. However like the Eurozone, the UK faces inflationary pressures. The input price component of the service sector PMI hit a record high. Output prices on the other hand, have moderated slightly but are also very close to its record.

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

Japanese Yen Crosses Stall before US Data

The Japanese economic calendar has been devoid of any significant data over the past 24 hours and this will remain the case for the next 24 hours. Many of the Yen crosses have recovered significantly over the past week, but further strength will now be contingent upon Friday’s US non-farm payrolls report. Meanwhile, the Japanese government is in no rush to find a new Bank of Japan Governor. Although Fukuda indicate that a candidate will be announced shortly, the Japanese needs to find someone who is agreeable to both parties.

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




By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

Contact Kathy Lien about this article at [email protected]



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