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Friday January 28, 2005 - 22:03:12 GMT
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US Growth The Slowest In Seven Quarters

DailyFX Fundamentals 01-28-05

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of www.dailyfx.com

· US Growth The Slowest In Seven Quarters
· Swiss Monetary Policy To Remain Expansive
· Weak Japanese Data Sends Yen Tumbling

EURUSD

Despite some intraday volatility, the euro has ended the US trading session virtually unchanged. The worse than expected US GDP report induced a modest rally in the EURUSD that was relatively short lived. Better than expected French economic data failed to keep the euro afloat. The number of unemployed people declined by 11k, while the business confidence indicator was revised higher the previous month. The pair traded down to a low of 1.2985 before rallying back above 1.30 on little news. It was actually quite surprising that the euro could not muster a sustainable rally off of the much weaker US release. It appears that everyone is already looking ahead to the busy week next week. Both the OPEC meeting and Iraq elections are taking place this weekend. During the week, the Reserve Bank of Australia, European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve will be meeting to discuss changes to monetary policy while the finance ministers and central bankers of the G7 nations will be meeting to discuss the world economy on February 4th and 5th. In terms of economic data, the most important release next week will be US non-farm payrolls report for the month of January. The euro has been consolidating over this past week and the market will certainly be hoping that next week’s heavy calendar can provide enough catalyst for the currency to break out of its lackluster range trading mode.

USDCHF

Like the euro, the dollar is consolidating against the Swiss franc. Today we learned that US growth in the fourth quarter was the weakest in seven quarters, rising only 3.1% compared to 4.0% growth in the fourth quarter. As expected, the deterioration came primarily from the record trade deficit and drop in exports. The personal consumption expenditures price index actually increased while inflation remained relatively tame. The Federal Reserve will still be raising interest rates next Wednesday despite the weaker report. The lack of a significant dollar reaction following the GDP release highlights the waning significance of the report since most it components are known in advance. Meanwhile, in Swiss news, the KoF leading indicators report fell from an upwardly revised 0.50 to 0.42 in January. This is slightly more than the market expected and will keep Swiss monetary policy intact. SNB President Roth was on the wires this morning reiterating the central bank’s expansive monetary policy and adding that the SNB will act once growth picks up. For the time being though, growth is expected to be weaker this year than last year.

GBPUSD

The British pound is modestly weaker today following reports of a decline in mortgage approvals in the month of December. This should not be surprising since overall the UK housing market is clearly slowing even though recent data has suggested that it may be stabilizing. The pound is still one of the best performing currencies this week, led higher by mixed but generally better than expected economic data. The data must be leaving the Bank of England equally confused, which just means that monetary policy will continue to remain unchanged for the time being. The economic calendar for the UK is fairly light in the week ahead with more lending and manufacturing data due for release. As a result, the GBPUSD pair will likely revert to taking direction from the larger events occurring next week and its respective impact on the US dollar.

USDJPY

The myriad of weaker economic data released overnight has sent the dollar trading back above 103 against the Japanese yen. Although the unemployment rate improved, falling from 4.5% to 4.4%, wages decreased while household spending took a sharp dive. The market was actually expecting a –0.6% m/m fall in spending, but instead it plunged 3.8%. Unfortunately, the tighter labor market has not translated to broader improvements in the economy since the Japanese are notorious hoarders of cash. The country has one of the highest savings rate in the world. If Japanese consumers are not coming to the economy’s rescue, it really leads us to question the resiliency of the Japanese economy to the global slowdown. However, the yen will continue to take direction from any G7 related commentary for the time being. Today, new comments from Bank of China’s Yu sent the yen haywire momentarily. He was quoted as saying that “now is the time to revalue.” Beijing though quickly came out and said that his views do not reflect that of the government.

 

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