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Saturday November 13, 2004 - 11:45:12 GMT

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Forex: Dollar faces fresh lows

The dollar will continue to be undermined by fears over the current account deficit and there will be concerns that the budget deficit will not be tackled by the administration. The most recent growth indicators have offered support to the US currency and there will be expectations that US Federal Reserve interest rates increases will continue. Any increase in US rates to above the 2.0% level would discourage dollar selling to some extent. It is doubtful whether these dollar positive factors will be enough to prevent fresh record dollar lows against the Euro, especially with persistent negative dollar sentiment. Given the threat of a shift out of dollar reserves, the underlying trend should also be for US currency depreciation, but a significant corrective rally is realistic early next year.

US data releases

Trade account -US$51.6bn Sep (-US$53.6bn Aug)
Retail sales +0.2% Oct (+1.6% Sep)
University of Michigan consumer confidence 95.5 Nov (91.7 Oct)
Jobless claims 333,000 week ending Nov 6th (331,000 prev)

Market analysis

The dollar briefly fell to a fresh all-time low against the Euro. But it found support at the 1.30 level and rebounded to near 1.2860 before renewed depreciation to 1.2970 on Friday. The US data over the week was generally slightly stronger than expected, although still close to expectations. There was a 0.2% increase in retail sales for October, with an underlying 0.9% increase, while jobless claims rose less than expected to 333,000 and indicated a slight improvement in the labour market. There was also a rise in the University of Michigan consumer confidence index to 95.5 in early November from 91.7 in October.

The US Federal Reserve met market expectations and increased interest rates by 0.25% to 2.0%, the fourth rate increase since June. In the accompanying statement, the Fed commented that monetary policy was still expansionary and that the Fed also expected it would be able to remove the policy stimulus at a measured rate. This suggests that, barring data shocks, the Fed is aiming for further interest rate increases and this should offer some support to the US currency as markets had been expecting that the Fed could decide to hold rates at 2.0%. If US rates are increased to 2.25%, US rates will be higher than Euro rates for the first time in over two years. This should start to discourage dollar selling as carry trades will be less attractive.

The September trade deficit fell to US$51.6bn from US$53.6bn, supported by a rise in exports to record levels. There was also a decline in imports over the month, helped by a decline in oil import volumes, although prices rose. There will still be longer-term concerns over the US trade deficit and there will need to a decline to below US$50bn in the monthly deficits to secure a significant improvement in dollar confidence. There will also be further speculation that the administration will encourage a weaker US currency to help bring about a decline in the trade deficit.

The Euro-zone data remained weak with a sharp decline in the German ZEW index for November. There was also a slowdown in German GDP growth to 0.1% for the first quarter and wider Euro-zone growth also slowed to 0.3% in the third quarter from 0.5% previously. There has been verbal intervention by European officials to protest against Euro strength. ECB Chairman Trichet repeated his comments from January when he stated that recent Euro moves has been unwelcome and brutal. The level of the Euro should not cause serious alarm, but there will certainly be unease if there are further rapid gains. Actual intervention to stem Euro gains looks unlikely before EUR1.35/US$ unless there is a rapid acceleration in dollar selling beyond 1.30. The ECB has, however, injected greater risk in shorting the US currency and this will lessen the risk of rapid Euro gains.


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Mon 10 Sep 2018
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