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Friday March 11, 2005 - 23:20:20 GMT -

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Euro Enters Levels That May Draw Concern From ECB

DailyFX Fundamentals 03-11-05

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist

· Euro Enters Levels That May Draw Concern From ECB
· Dollar Slides On Wider Trade Deficit
· Yen Rises As BoJ Expected To Upgrade Assessment of Economy


What a rough day for the dollar! The chart of the euro reminds us of a bungee jumping expedition. First the euro skyrockets 70 pips on the wider than expected US trade balance report, then does a complete 360-degree flip to free-fall 90-pips past the previous low and over the course of three hours trades right back up to the highs that were first hit after the initial release of the trade report. We are sure that the price action has our readers perplexed. There were some chatter of possible selling by European central banks, but since none of the speculation was confirmed, we only know that the sell-off in the euro was flow based. If the rally continues though, we will once again see red flags raised by various members of the Eurozone. Their own exporters will begin pressuring the government to take measures to prevent the euro from rising even further. A strong euro, which comes hand in hand with a weak dollar would take a significant toll on an already battered manufacturing sector. Verbal intervention may once again become a familiar term in the markets, especially since it has been some time that we have heard cautionary currency comments from both Eurozone and Japanese government officials. With four days of consecutive gains, this has been a great week for the EURUSD. Data from the region was relatively mixed; the current account surplus increased from EUR 9.9B to EUR12.2B, but the OECD leading indicator report fell modestly from a downwardly revised 105.9 to 105.7.


The US trade deficit widened from a revised $55.7 billion to $58.3 billion in the month of January, its second largest on record. Imports surged on rising demand for consumer goods, autos and business equipments. The lifting of textile quotas has boosted the trade deficit with China from $14.3 billion to another record high of $15.3 billion. Trade with China is expected to increase even further in the months ahead as the country's cheap production capabilities allow them to capture a larger share of the American market. For the time being, this is a dollar negative number, but how negative it may be will be determined by next week's Treasury International Capital flow data (TIC). With all the talk of reserve diversification, we will continue to look for signs of waning demand from Japan. As the deficit grows, the need for more foreign funding also rises. Meanwhile there is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal by Fed Watcher Greg Ip. According to Ip, the Fed may be very close to dropping the words “measured” and “accommodative” from their monetary policy statement. He adds that dropping measured means that implies that the Fed may be looking to raise rates more aggressively while leaving out the word “accommodative” may imply that rates are near neutral. However, the next Fed meeting is not until March 22nd. At this point, with oil prices continuing to skyrocket on a forecast for a 2.2% increase in oil demand by the International Energy Agency this year, the Fed will probably want to wait to see how consumers respond to the rise in the cost of gasoline and heating bills.


With no economic data released from the UK today, the pound held its ground and managed to recuperate some of its recent losses. Next week, we are expecting a lot of important economic data from Britain including leading indicators, retail sales, unemployment, PPI, and the latest information on the trend of house prices. The Bank of England faces a tough decision as the outlook for the economy remains murky. As a result, the market will continue to look to this week’s reports for any new guidance on where the UK economy is headed.


The dollar continues to test the bottom of its recent trading range against the Japanese yen. The most interesting news out of Japan was not consumer confidence, which improved modestly from 47.4 to 47.6 in the month of February, but it was the heavy trading that occurred in the Japanese stock market. Although the Nikkei increased a modest 58.98 points last night, volume was the largest ever on record. It seems that the psychologically important 12,000 level was a battle zone for bulls and bears given a lack of a significant catalyst for the sharp increase in trading interest. Meanwhile, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the Bank of Japan is expected to upgrade their assessment of the economy in their March report. This is quite bullish for the yen since it means that the BoJ believes that Japan will have no problems rising out of the recession that it experienced in the fourth quarter. Next week will be a big week for Japan. The economic calendar is very heavy with a Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting Wednesday evening.


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