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Friday March 4, 2005 - 08:41:00 GMT
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FX Daily Technical Strategy

 


Dollar edges up on chance of robust U.S. jobs data


 


The dollar edged up against the yen on Friday as investors bet that healthy employment figures would strengthen the case for a faster pace of rises in U.S. interest rates.


The dollar has found support this week on expectations that U.S. non-farm payrolls data, due at 13h30 GMT, will show that around 220,000 new jobs were created in February compared with 146,000 the previous month.


Recent upbeat U.S. indicators have fuelled talk of a larger figure for February though some traders were cautious, saying a buoyant reading had been factored into the dollar so a weaker figure would let the currency down.


"Even if it doesn't make expectations, if something like 160,000 or 170,000 comes up that's still a very good figure. But the market's not going to be satisfied with that," he said.


Monthly job creation has not topped 200,000 since October, when 282,000 jobs were added to U.S. payrolls.


As of 06h00 GMT, the dollar was up 0.2 percent on the day at around 105.45 yen, adding to a 0.5 percent gain on Thursday. It has climbed almost 3 percent so far this year.


The dollar pair was unable to break 105.50, where Japanese exporters were seen ready to sell dollars.


As the market braced itself for the payrolls data, the dollar was barely moved against other major currencies, including the euro, the pound and the Swiss franc.


The euro was flat from late New York levels at around $1.3110, down about 3.3 percent since the start of the year.


The dollar has clawed back from a record low of $1.3670 to the euro in December. Interest rate rises by the Fed and sluggish euro zone data have helped outweigh lingering concerns about the size of the U.S. fiscal and external deficits.


Ahead of the payrolls data, the dollar also got a boost on Thursday when the employment component of the Institute for Supply Management's service sector index for February came in at 59.6, the highest since the survey started in 1997.


Jobs growth is seen as essential for the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates, while a better than expected payrolls number could prompt a quickening in the current moderate pace of rate rises.


The Fed has raised its target federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point at six successive meetings since last June to take it to 2.5 percent.


Higher rates are seen boosting the U.S. currency as they tend to increase the attractiveness to foreign investors of short-dated dollar deposits.


The improving rate differential that the dollar holds over other currencies was highlighted on Thursday when the European Central Bank left euro zone interest rates steady at 2 percent, as expected.


Earlier this week Australia's central bank raised its official cash rate by a quarter percentage points to 5.5 percent.


The Aussie dollar, however, is now down around 2 percent from a one-year high of 79.58 U.S. cents hit two weeks ago. Its fall gained momentum after weak economic growth data on Wednesday cast doubt on the chance of further rate rises.


It was little changed at around 78.20 on Friday.


 


EURO/DOLLAR: Prices put pressure on $1.3090 support, bearish while under $1.3170. We are still faced with two alternatives with the current rally from $1.2735. The first is that it is the start of a move back to the underlying USD bear trend and new highs above $1.3700, and the second is that it will be part of a more complex range correction between $1.27 and $1.37 for another month or so. The latter is probably the more likely outlook at this stage and the latest decline from $1.3275 is potentially the start of a short term bear run back towards range supports, but only while we hold under $1.3170. Although we had hoped prices would breakdown the way cable did yesterday the fact that we are sitting on the lows of the current move is encouraging. It gives us a buffer into payrolls to run the short position without hopefully too much slippage if we are wrong on our bearish outlook.


 


DOLLAR/YEN: The recent price action confirms to us that this market is going to stay range bound for a while between 102 and 107. Our underlying longer term bias shifted at the end of last year for a break down through 101.25 yen before a more significant base develops, but there is no sign that such a move will actually occur as yet.


 


STERLING/DOLLAR: The picture for a short term bullish USD outlook is developing better in this rate than the EUR$, as the gains from $1.8510 look to be part of a correction process rather than the start of a rally to new highs. The fact that we have dropped in 5 waves adds further confirmation to that fact. In the near term a rally back through $1.9095/1.9100 will see a larger correction develop towards $1.9200 before renewed weakness sets in. Only a break back through $1.9260 will negate a bearish bias now.


 


@13h30 GMT: U.S. February Non-Farm Payrolls, U.S. February Hourly Earnings


@14h45 GMT: U.S. February Final University of Michigan Confidence Survey


@15h00 GMT: U.S. January Factory Orders

 

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