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Forex: Dollar Strengthens Ahead Of US Data

DailyFX Fundamentals 11-29-04

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist

· Dollar Strengthens Ahead Of US Data
· SNB Roth Warns Of Corrective Policy Action
· Japanese Yen Falls As Retail Sales Decrease More Than Expected


The dollar is stronger against the euro ahead of tomorrow’s busy US and Eurozone economic calendar. Trading today felt more like an extention of the Thanksgiving day holiday as traders reassessed their positions after coming back from the holiday weekend and realizing that the EURUSD is approximately 250-300 pips higher than when they left their offices on Wednesday afternoon. The risk this week is for a modest correction in the EURUSD. US economic data is expected to show a gradual improvement in the world’s largest economy and continued deterioration in the economy of its neighbor across the Atlantic. The stronger euro and weaker dollar is benefiting the US at the expense of Europe. Although the longer term outlook still calls for a further dollar decline to correct the current account imbalances, the significance of the data expected this week should shift market forces temporarily. Meanwhile, the euro continues to remain relatively immune to verbal intervention from ECB officials. ECB President Trichet and council member Caruana reitereated their displeasure with the “brutal” moves in the euro. More speeches are in store for later this week, none of which are expected to have much impact on the euro.


This weekend, the market was focused on how well the US shopping season would perform on what is traditionally one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. To the pleasure of many, the shopping season looks like it is off to a strong start, with ShopperTrak of Chicago estimating that retail sales for Friday leapt 10.8% over last year to hit $8 billion. Visa USA also reported a 14.5% yoy increase in card usage at retail stores this past Friday and Saturday. The only damper on the weekend was a report that sales were weak at Walmart. However, it appears that purchases at higher price points, such as that of electronics was the focus of shoppers this weekend, which is actually quite positive. Tomorrow we are expecting the preliminary release of US GDP, Chicago PMI and Consumer Confidence. The preliminary release, which is the second release of Q3 GDP is expected to confirm at a highly respectable 3.7%, while an improving labor market and finalized election results should boost consumer confidence. Chicago PMI on the other hand, is forecasted to retrace after its sharp jump in October. Overall, the data should set a positive tone for the dollar this week as we head towards Friday’s non-farm payrolls release. Meanwhile SNB Roth warned of corrective policy action in FX if the Swiss Franc continues to come under upward speculative pressure.


Like the rest of the majors, the British pound ended today’s trading day generally unchanged. As much bearish dollar sentiment there may be in the markets, the 1.90 barrier will be difficult to break in the GBPUSD, especially with expectations for stronger US data this week. The Gfk consumer confidence index increased to –4 from –6 in the month of November. With the overall deteriorating outlook for the UK economy, the market had actually forecasted a decrease in confidence. The index has been negative or zero since December 2002. This is the second consecutive monthly increase and indicates that UK consumers are not as pessimistic about the outlook in the UK economy as economists may believe. Nevertheless, the index is still negative and does not change the overall slower pace of growth. Next up for the UK is manufacturing sector data. Activity is expected to remain stable at best.


The dollar managed to rise modestly against the Japanese yen for the second consecutive trading day. With a 300-pip move over the past 2 weeks and no support from the Japanese government in sight, the outlook for the Japanese yen is unclear. The latest CFTC COT report of non-commercial positioning indicates that speculative long yen positioning decreased in the week ending November 23rd. The fall in speculative position on the IMM gives the Ministry of Finance an even less compelling reason to intervene. The Bank of Japan reported a net profit of Y410 billion compared to a net loss of Y195.8 billion for the same period a year ago. The BoJ said that the rise was mainly due to the yen’s fall and dollar’s decline in the first half of the year. With a complete turnaround in USDJPY, we expect that the BoJ is grappling with losses at this point. Meanwhile, a weaker than expected retail sales report for the month of October gave the dollar further reason to rally against the yen. Retail sales fell –1.4% yoy in October against expectations for a more modest 0.4% decline.


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