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Monday March 14, 2005 - 23:21:50 GMT -

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Forex: Only A Blockbuster TIC Number Can Help Save The Dollar

DailyFX Fundamentals 03-14-05

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

· Only A Blockbuster TIC Number Can Help Save The Dollar
· Pound Weakens As House Prices Slow For Second Month
· Dollar Rallies Against Yen On Smaller Current Account Surplus


For the first time in four trading days, the dollar has finally managed to muster a rally against the euro. With no US economic data on the calendar today, the dollar has benefited from EURUSD profit taking as well as modest optimism ahead of tomorrow’s big day. Today’s lull in the markets can be best described as the calm before the storm as the market exerts cautious positioning ahead of the US’ Treasury International Capital flow report, retail sales, the Empire manufacturing survey and the German ZEW survey. If you take away the large upside outlier forecast from the 5 analysts who contributed to Bloomberg’s survey, the estimates for the TIC data range from a low of $51 billion to a high of $65 billion. With the trade deficit for the month of January at -$58.3 billion, at bare minimum, we would need the release to come in greater than $60 billion for it to have any chance of helping the dollar rally. A number less than $58.3 billion will most likely cause dollar bulls to run for the exit, as it indicates that foreign purchases of US assets have not been sufficient in funding the deficit. A weak number along with selling of US Treasuries by Japan or China could cause an even larger colossal move lower in the dollar. Yet it will probably take a number greater than $70 billion to trigger a meaningful reversal in the EURUSD rather than just a short-term dollar relief rally.


Off to the races once again for oil prices as disagreement amongst OPEC members keeps traders guessing on whether the cartel will be announcing an increase in production quotas at their meeting tomorrow. With traders determined to retest the $55.67 high, the market is really looking for some sort of respite for oil. Many analysts say that supply is not really the issue at this point, but instead demand is the main concern, which means that even if OPEC does increase production, it may not be enough for oil prices to reverse trend. In our opinion, speculators have their positions hinging upon the OPEC announcement. Therefore a decision to increase production will indeed help to offset some of the upside momentum in oil. We cannot underestimate the importance of oil. As we have previously mentioned, oil acts as a tax for consumers and can shave as much as 0.5% off of GDP for each 10% rise. In line with that, we will be closely watching tomorrow’s retail sales report to see if spending has been dented by oil. Higher gasoline station receipts are expected to help boost the headline retail sales number.


More balanced comments from the Bank of England’s Deputy Governor Lomax has contributed to today’s weakness in the British pound. She said that the “downside” inflation risk assessment played a major role in the Bank of England’s decision last week to keep rates on hold. With a heavy economic calendar on the table, every trader needs to look at the data and then think about how it plays into the central bank’s monetary policy decision. Today, we learned that PPI input and output prices were higher as a result of rising petroleum prices. However, house price inflation on the other hand softened for the second consecutive month. These contrasting reports do not give us much to work with, however we did learn that leading indicators advanced for the first time in two months. Once again though, we revert back to oil because if inflation is being driven higher by oil, then this may actually be a red flag since it does not necessarily translate into stronger profitability for most corporations. If higher PPI filters into higher CPI, then consumers would be faced with higher costs. The UK is a net oil exporter, but only modestly, which means that consumers could still be hurt by oil.


The Japanese yen weakened despite an impressive revision to the fourth quarter GDP report. The most recent data indicates that Japan actually did not fall into a recession at the end of last year. In fact, it grew by 0.5% on an annualized basis as manufacturers increased inventories in expectation of a rebound in global demand from China and the US. Industrial production was also revised higher from 2.1% to 2.5%. Although the GDP report was quite significant, the market chose to latch onto the disappointing current account data. The country’s current account surplus shrank by more than 12% for the first time in 3 months as travel increased overseas. Travel hit record levels as the yen strengthened to a five year high against the US dollar mid January. Most of the data today has been mixed and even though bulls should have been proud of the upward revision to GDP, there are many obstacles that the yen faces. Japan is also a major importer of oil and we are only beginning to see the currency react appropriately to the changes in oil prices.


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