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Tuesday February 22, 2005 - 10:41:59 GMT
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FOREX: US OPEN MARKET POINTS 02-22-05

Central Bank Diversification Away from the Dollar Rallies the Euro

Ignoring negative GDP results, lower than expected Domestic Demand figures and larger than legally allowed budget deficit gaps from Europe’s largest economy, the FX market focused only on the news that Central Bank of Korea was diversifying its reserve assets away from the dollar and promptly rallied the EUR/USD throughout the Asian and the European sessions. Although the economic data from Germany, which comprises as much as 1/3 rd of the total EZ output, was hardly inspiring, the EUR/USD catapulted 120 points higher in a matter of three hours aided by rapid short covering from surprised dollar bulls who were caught wrong footed by the latest Central Bank news-flow.

The Korean Central Bank was the third national bank after Russia and Brazil to announce its intention to diversify out of USD reserves. Earlier in the day, George Soros noted, "The oil exporting countries' central banks ... have been switching out of USDs mainly into EURs. That is, I think, at the bottom of the current weakness of the USD. The higher the price of oil the more the USDs there are to be switched to EUR (so) the strength of oil will reinforce the weakness of the USD. That is only one factor, but I think there is such a relationship.”

Thus the euro assumes its familiar role, not as the currency of its own merit but as the key “anti-dollar” instrument in the world’s foreign exchange markets. The critical question facing traders this week is will the rally last much beyond the 1.3250 resistance level? If today’s Consumer Confidence numbers from the Conference Board report materially lower than expected the pair may be pushed higher still by escalating dollar bearish sentiment. Given last Friday’s disappointing University of Michigan data that is a distinct possibility. Nevertheless we are cautious of euro longs at these levels given the absence of any meaningful positive data from Euro-land. With both Morgan Stanley and BNP analysts scaling down their 2005 estimates of German GDP to below 1.0% the possibility of any possible rate hikes from ECB remains moot. As the dollar begins to generate larger carry spread differentials the market will have a harder time justifying further euro gains against the dollar. On the other hand, if US growth suddenly slows and the Fed suspends its tightening policy the market’s dollar bearish sentiment will only intensify.

Finally, as we go to print, Italian Confidence Euro-Zone Current Account and EZ Trade Balance all report much better than expected results, stoking further the night’s euro bullish ebullience. 1.3200 is within reach and a test of the 1.3250 level now seems quite likely.



FX Spot Overnight

- EUR breaks out to 3180 on BOK positioning news
- JPY runs all the way to 104 on dollar bearish data
- GBP takes out the 1.9100 figure on bullish upsurge
- CHF boosted by good Trade Balance and weak dollar trades below 1700


Upcoming Events

12:00GMT – (07:00 AM EST) CAD CPI m/m (JAN) Expected 0.1% Previous -0.2%
- 12:00GMT – (07:00 AM EST) CAD CPI y/y (JAN) Expected 2.2% Previous 2.1%
12:00GMT – (07:00 AM EST) CAD CPI Excluding Core 8 m/m (JAN) Expected 0.1% Previous -0.1%
- 12:00GMT – (07:00 AM EST) CAD CPI Excluding Core 8 y/y (JAN) Expected 1.8% Previous 1.7%
13:30GMT – (08:30 AM EST) CAD Leading Indicators m/m (JAN) Expected 0.1% Previous 0.2%
- 13:30GMT – (08:30 AM EST) USD Consumer Confidence (FEB) Expected 103.0 Previous 103.4

 

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