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Saturday November 6, 2004 - 12:41:24 GMT

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Dollar to hit fresh lows

The US currency will certainly remain vulnerable to current account and budget fears. The dollar's best chance for a rally is on strong economic data and the inability to rally on strong employment growth is a negative sign, especially as it will increase the risk that corporate hedging will be stepped up. Actual intervention to restrain the Euro is unlikely ahead of EUR1.35/US$. The US economic data has, however, been firm which should underpin the dollar to some extent and from a short-term perspective the US currency is over-sold. The dollar should also gain some relief if the Fed signals that rate increases are likely to continue in December. Overall, the dollar is likely to hit fresh record lows in the very short term, but there is scope for a significant rebound within the next month given the high number of short speculative dollar positions.

US data releases

Unemployment 5.5% Oct (5.4% Sep)
Non-farm payrolls +337,000 Oct (+139,000 Sep)
ISM index manufacturing 56.8 Oct (58.5 Sep)
ISM services 59.8 Oct (56.7 Sep)
Jobless claims 335,000 week ending Oct 30th (351,000 prev)

Market analysis

The dollar was unable to secure more than a brief rally after the US election and weakened close to all-time lows at 1.2890 on Thursday before a weak rally. The dollar also rallied after the US employment figures on Friday, but this quickly reverted to selling and the US currency fell to an all-time low around 1.2970 in New York.

The economic data was generally better than expected, with the main focus on October’s payroll report. There was a 337,000 increase in employment compared with an upwardly-revised 139,000 increase for September, the strongest increase for 7 months. The ISM services index also strengthened to 59.8 in October from 56.7 the previous month and there was a decline in jobless claims. The ISM index manufacturing index dipped to 56.8 in October from 58.5. The stronger employment report will have a significant impact on the Federal Reserve. The Fed will decide on interest rates at the FOMC meeting on Wednesday, and the most likely outcome is for a further 0.25% increase in Fed funds to 2.0%. This will take US interest rates level with Euro rates which will deter dollar selling to some extent. There should be a more significant market reaction if the Fed signals that a December rate increase is likely.

Underlying dollar sentiment is likely to remain weak, with persistent concerns over the US current account and budget deficits. In this context Bush’s win in the presidential election will be important and it will also be significant that the Republicans secured tighter control of congress. This will increase the potential for an aggressive fiscal policy which will maintain market concerns over the US budget trends. Wider political concerns will persist with a continuing focus on the Iraq situation. The US will take a more aggressive following the US election and this will maintain a political risk premium for the US currency. There will be speculation that the administration will be happy to see dollar depreciation to help ease the trade deficit.

ECB Chairman Trichet expressed some concern over the impact of higher oil prices on inflation. He also refrained from making significant comments on the Euro. This does not suggest major alarm over the Euro’s level, especially as a firm currency will curb the impact of higher oil prices and make it less likely that there will need to be an interest rate increase. There have also been no major criticism from politicians, although background concerns will be increasing and there is no room for complacency. Actual intervention is unlikely below the EUR1.35/US$ level.


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