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DailyFX: Euro Rallies On Stronger IFO

Daily FX Fundamentals 04-26-04

· G7 Finance Ministers Leave FX Statement Unchanged
· Stronger German IFO Survey
· UK CBI Industrial Trends Survey Highest Since 1995


A stronger than expected German IFO business climate survey helped the euro recoup some of Friday’s losses. Following last week’s disappointing ZEW survey of analyst expectations, the market had discounted a downside surprise in the IFO survey. The IFO index rose from 95.4 to 96.3 for the month of April, after declining for 2 consecutive months. The current conditions component was a bit higher, primarily as a result of an improvement in exports. The expectations component however, slipped from 98.8 to 97.8. Comments from ECB officials earlier this morning was also supportive of the euro – ECB Mersch said that interest rates are currently “exceptionally accommodative” while ECB Liebscher was optimistic on the prospects for global growth. Both developments lend support to the argument against another rate cut by the ECB. At the G7 meeting, Europe was called on to look for measures to stimulate growth. The countries in the Eurozone promised more “pro-growth reforms” to deliver “stronger and more balanced global growth,” but they came shy of saying that cutting interest rates was apart of their agenda. ECB Trichet will be giving his quarterly testimony before the European Parliament tomorrow – interest rate expectations will dominate trading, so look for any comments he may have on monetary policy. However, the impact of his comments may be dwarfed by Greenspan’s speech at 12:30 EST.


The statement released from this weekend’s G7 finance ministers meeting expressed the optimism of the group’s central bankers and finance ministers on the prospects for global growth. The wording related to foreign exchange was left unchanged, as the committee agreed that excess volatility and disorderly movements is undesirable. Some have argued that no message from the G7 is a good message for the dollar, as it indicates that the G7 does not object to the dollar recovery. Although this may be true, the G7 meeting and the unchanged statement is an insufficient catalyst for a sharp move lower in the dollar. However, this week’s data from the US, including Thursday’s advance estimate of Q1 GDP is expected to support the dollar. New home sales, which was the first economic release from the US this week surprised on the upside, as it reported an 8.9% increase in sales during the month of March. Low rates have helped to keep the labor market firm. Meanwhile, SNB Hildebrand’s comments this morning were a little hawkish. He said that he doesn’t rule out positive economic surprises and says that inflation is no justification for low rates. He also added that the central bank would need to normalize rates once the recovery accelerates and growth is strong enough to increase the economy’s “capacity utilization.”


Comments from BoE Monetary Policy Committee member Tucker and a strong CBI industrial trends survey helped to fuel gains in the British pound. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Tucker said that borrowing costs may have to rise as high as 5.5% before they stop stimulating the economy. Tucker added that the fall in inflation is not a “big deal.” If you recall, last week, CPI fell to 1.1% yoy during the month of March, slightly shy of the central bank’s minimum acceptable rate of 1.0%. The CBI industrial trends survey for the first quarter reported that factory orders increased by the fastest pace in five years. The latest report highlights the strength of the manufacturing sector recovery, as well as the overall UK economy. The pound’s reaction today is a confirmation that interest rate expectations is the primary driver of the foreign exchange market these days. The stronger data and the surprisingly hawkish comments have prompted renewed speculation that the BoE may be raising rates in May.


The dollar yen rally appears to be losing steam as the Japanese business sentiment index released by the Cabinet Office rose to its highest level in 15 years in Q1. This index echoes the optimistic sentiment imbedded in the Tankan survey released earlier this month. Optimistic business sentiment is particularly important since capital spending is one of the keys to a sustainable economic expansion. There are lots of Japanese economic data expected out this week - we will be paying particular attention to the intervention data and the semi-annual economic forecasts, which are expected to be released following the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy meeting.


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