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Thursday March 31, 2005 - 22:33:01 GMT -

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Forex: Euro Holds Its Breath Ahead of Non-Farm Payrolls

DailyFX Fundamentals 03-31-05

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

· Euro Holds Its Breath Ahead of Non-Farm Payrolls
· Strong Chicago PMI Survey Boosts Whisper NFP Number
· Yen Traders Eye Tankan Survey


The euro brought forth some minor excitement after the surprising rise in US jobless claims, but the move quickly reversed following a better than expected Chicago PMI report. Unfortunately for traders, this week has really just been periphery action ahead of this Friday’s Non-Farm payrolls release. The latest string of Eurozone economic data was exceptionally weak which has hampered any possibility of a euro recovery today. Both the unemployment rates in France and Germany ticked higher while overall confidence in the region deteriorated. With weak growth and reduced confidence following the revision of the Stability and Growth Pact, confidence in the outlook for the Eurozone economy and single currency has fallen significantly. As such, so has reserve diversification talk for the moment. Yet the forecast for annualized Eurozone inflation was notched higher from 2.0% to 2.1%. This highlights the difficulties that the ECB is faced with - that is rising inflationary pressures in the face of deteriorating growth. As such, do not expect the ECB to raise rates anytime soon. The growing interest rate differential will, for the time being lend strength to the dollar. However, short term price action all depends on payrolls.


The US dollar is marginally weaker ahead of tomorrow’s non-farm payrolls report. Aside from the sharp jump in the Chicago PMI report, most of the other economic releases were either in line or fell short of expectations. Most notable was the 350k jump in jobless claims and the shortfall in personal income. Personal income fell short of spending for the second consecutive month, as US consumers continued to spend more than they could afford. Factory orders also came in lower due to a shortfall in orders for automobiles and appliances. Yet, the market found comfort in the Chicago PMI report, which increased to the highest level since July 1988. The hiring index also surged to the highest level since December 1983. This has catapulted the “whisper” number of NFPs to +300k, which is the top end of analysts’ forecasts. So far, according to the manufacturing sector surveys that have already been released, both the employment components of the Empire State Manufacturing and Chicago PMI surveys support a stronger NFP number while the Philly Fed survey refutes that. As indicated in the NFP special report that we have released on our website, handicapping the NFP's is often an exercise in futility. This month the task is further complicated by the fact that it is being released early (April 1st) making some of the usual pre-NFP reports such as the Challenger layoff numbers, the ISM employment figures and the Monster survey all unavailable for analysis. Nevertheless, some of the broader economic indicators as well the weekly jobless claims data are suggesting that the NFP report is unlikely to exceed market expectations (visit for the full outlook). An interesting report released by the Federal Reserve today indicated that due to a lower workforce participation rate, only 93,000 jobs need to be created each month to keep the unemployment rate unchanged.


The British pound experienced sharp gains on the last day of trading for the month of March in the context of mixed UK economic data. To the delight of pound bulls, consumer confidence rebounded back to January levels. Prior to January, pessimism had dominated the Gfk survey for 2 years. On the flip side, house prices dipped 0.6%, far short of the market’s forecast for a +0.1% gain. This is the second house price report this week to suggest that the stabilization in the housing market may be nothing but a mirage. Yet the pound found support from a sharp rise in oil prices. Crude prices spiked higher following the release of a report by Goldman Sachs warning of a "super spike" period, whereby the range of oil could be between $50 to $105 per barrel. The UK is a marginal net oil importer, which means that they are poised to benefit if oil resumes its rebound.


The Japanese Yen is licking its wounds on the last day of the country’s fiscal year. Traders are bracing for tonight’s release of the ever-important quarterly Tankan survey of business sentiment. Economists forecast sentiment to remain unchanged with an improvement in the outlook for the non-manufacturing sector. Yet, the risk is clearly weighted to the downside with the latest series of disappointing economic data. Last night, housing starts fell far short of expectations, rising only 0.4% compared to a forecast of 3.0%. This follows a week of poor data, making February an exceptionally very difficult month in Japan. The labor market has worsened, household spending and retail sales have declined, industrial production took a dive while consumers and businesses had to grapple with soaring oil prices. It is difficult to fathom that business sentiment could still hold steady amidst increasing signs of a shift in growth.


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