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Currency Focus: USDCHF

Currency Focus: USDCHF

Published Date: 04/27/04

· USDCHF Breakout

USDCHF has finally broken out of its short term 1.2500-1.3000 trading range. The classic breakout retracement provides opportunity for bulls to take advantage of potential larger move upwards. The moving average confluence down to 1.2800 remains key short-term support. The level also corresponds with trendline support on the daily and weekly. Bulls will seek to buy dips towards the 20-day EMA and 50% fibo of the November to January bear wave. A break below the 50-day EMA and 38.2% fibo of the Nov-Jan bear wave would negate the bullish bias.

· Near Term US Fundamentals Improving

Bullish sentiment in the US economy and the US dollar has increased significantly after a string of positive economic data. The broad based turn in sentiment began with last month’s exceptionally robust non-farm payrolls report, which was followed by higher than expected inflation reports. Consumer spending has remained strong, helping to fuel the recovery. Retail sales increased by the largest amount in a year during the month of March, which has led to significant upturn in activity in the manufacturing sector. As a result, the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing activity index rose to a record level during last month. The strength of recent data has prompted many economists to upwardly revise their first quarter GDP forecasts to an average estimate of 5%. Last week, durable goods and new home sales both surprised on the upside. Better than expected data has become a norm and the market expects rising corporate profitability, which increased 30% last year to help fuel gains in the labor market and boost sentiment. Although long-term fundamentals, namely the current account deficit still argue for a resumption of the dollar downtrend, improving data, rate hike expectations and general euphoria should benefit the dollar over the short to medium term.

· Monetary Policy – Rate Hikes Next For Both Central Banks, But Fed Will Be The First To Move

US – The Fed is preparing the market for a rate hike. Although we do not believe a hike will be delivered until the fourth quarter, we do expect the statements from upcoming FOMC meetings to be supportive of the dollar as it becomes increasingly bullish. The tone of Greenspan’s latest testimony was more hawkish than most anticipated, accelerating interest rate expectations. The Fed’s new message that deflation has ended has been delivered by a number of FOMC officials last week. We expect this change in sentiment to be reflected in the May 4th FOMC statement, in which the Fed will probably change their “balanced” assessment of deflationary vs. inflationary risks. However, although deflation is no longer an issue, Fed officials appear to be in agreement that inflation is still very low, which implies that they may elect to keep rates on hold till fall. According to the Fed Funds futures, 75bp of tightening have been priced in by year-end.

Switzerland – Improving economic activity in Switzerland has prompted the Swiss National Bank to move away from their more accommodative monetary policy. After a decade of recession, the economy has finally bottomed and recovery has become a reality. Going forward the Bank expects the economy to continue to improve, led by broad-based gains in exports, capital expenditure and domestic consumption. With a steadily improving labor market, the Bank forecasts 2004 growth to be in the 1.5% - 2.0% range. Earlier this week, SNB directorate member Hildebrand said that the SNB “will normalize its monetary policy as soon as the recovery’s expected dynamism sets in and growth strengthens enough to increase the capacity utilization of our economy.” Inflationary pressures have been low, which should allow the SNB to keep policy accommodative, but according to Hildebrand, “current inflation rates can’t be justification for monetary policy which must be oriented to the medium term inflation risk.” The SNB is clearly suggesting that they are moving away from their accommodative monetary policy stance.


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