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Wednesday March 31, 2010 - 14:29:29 GMT
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Hungary Loses Its Appetite; Plus, Reader Mailbag ...

Key News
• SYDNEY, March 31 (Reuters) - Australian retail sales suffered their biggest fall in a year in February as higher interest rates ate into consumers' spending power, a surprisingly weak result that cast doubts on chances of an interest rate hike next week.

• BEIJING, March 31 (Reuters) - Emerging markets face the risk of asset bubbles that could burst dangerously once the United States raises interest rates, a vice governor of China's central bank said, while also stressing the risks of an unsteady dollar.

Zhu Min, a vice governor of the People's Bank of China, made the warning in a speech reported on Wednesday in the Chinese-language Financial News.

He did not refer to China's own economy but dwelt on broader worries about the threats to global economic recovery.

"There remains the latent risk of asset bubbles. The rapid rebound for the better in market risks after the financial crisis has led to the threat of asset bubbles in capital markets," the paper cited Zhu as saying in the speech given on Saturday.

These potential bubbles were being driven up by U.S. dollar arbitrage flows entering emerging markets, he said.

• NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - U.S. consumer confidence rebounded in March, while home prices rose in January for the eighth straight month according to a closely watched housing index, bolstering hopes for a sustainable economic recovery.

“If it is once again one against forty-eight, then I am very sorry for the forty-eight.” —Margaret Thatcher


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FX Trading – Hungary Lost its Appetite  

BUDAPEST, March 31 (Reuters) - Hungary posted a current account surplus of 456 million euros in the last quarter of 2009 and also had an annual surplus last year for the first time since it started publishing data in 1995.
For the whole of 2009 the current account was in surplus by 186 million euros, compared with a deficit of 7.504 billion euros in 2008, the National Bank of Hungary said on Wednesday.

And for the visually inclined ...

Hungary Current Account monthly, 1995 - 2009 [Chart not available in text format.]

Hmmm, quite a swing there; but is it a good sign?

Not necessarily, since the surge was due to a collapse in imports, i.e. no domestic demand in Hungary.

Total Imports Monthly [Chart not available in text format.]

Household Consumer Expenditures [Chart not available in text format.]

Government Expenditures [Chart not available in text format.]

But on the face of it, though, the CA improvement may alleviate some of the concerns being tossed on Hungary over its finances ... even though export growth (rather than import deterioration) would be a much more welcomed path to surplus.

Hungary Budget Deficit monthly, 2003 - 2010 [Chart not available in text format.]

Granted the latest current account numbers are 4Q 2009 numbers, but it gives a taste of what’s going on over in Europe.

Here’s another taste ...

German Exports to the European Union monthly [Chart not available in text format.]

While bouncing back from the bottom in 2009, Germany’s exports have not yet gained back much ground towards its peak before the global credit crunch commenced.

Based on the economic outlook for Europe, that they will lag major economies in economic growth, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for a return of demand (nor a return to Germany’s export potential.)

Hence our expectations for the euro going to par.

Reader Question, Our Answer

A reader shot us an email yesterday to bring up two things:

1) That a good number of analysts he follows is expecting the Canadian dollar to continue strengthening versus the US dollar.
2) That a good number of analysts he follows is expecting the euro to weaken substantially still versus the US dollar.

His ultimate point: why isn’t anyone talking about selling the heck out of EURCAD?

Well, I’m sure people are – but it’s safe to say the EURCAD pair isn’t exactly on typical investors’ radar screen. Sure, we sometimes target that pair in our SwingTrader FX and PositionTrader FX services. But there’s a way to position for a longer-term move in these two currencies even if you want to steer clear of FX.

We position ourselves every month in conservative, easy-to-use investments that nearly perfectly captures FX market price action without the leverage that turns some investors away. (Want to give it a try?)

And while the short EURCAD idea is no sure bet, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on as the individual fundamental pictures do warrant such a move. Targeting these two with a broader time horizon may in fact prove to be a great idea.


John Ross Crooks III
Black Swan Capital

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