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Friday May 27, 2005 - 20:49:40 GMT

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Forex: Looking Ahead To The French Referendum

DailyFX Fundamentals 05-27-05

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

· Looking Ahead To The French Referendum
· Euro Rebounds On Profit Taking
· US Consumer Confidence Inches Higher In May

US Dollar

With US and UK traders looking forward to a three-day holiday weekend, profit taking has been the major theme in the markets today. The dollar has had a nice run and after having tested the 1.25 level momentarily, most traders are squaring their short EURUSD positions ahead of this weekend’s French referendum. It seems like those who want to have positions are already positioned. Although we have a shortened trading week ahead of us, there are a number of key economic releases on the calendar to watch for. The most important of which includes Chicago PMI, the national ISM survey, consumer confidence, factory orders and non-farm payrolls. Meanwhile data released out of the US today was mostly mixed. Personal income increased as expected while personal spending growth fell short of expectations. The University of Michigan consumer confidence survey increased more than expected, which provided a modest cause for optimism. However with oil prices above $51 a barrel and increasing for the fourth consecutive day, the modest optimism was easily offset. The possibility of unrest in Saudi Arabia certainly doesn’t help the prospects for oil either. Saudi King Faud was admitted into the hospital today for medical tests. Although he has been ill for many years, if he dies, there could be political unrest in a country that owns the world’s largest oil reserves.


Germany became the ninth country to ratify the EU Constitution today, which puts France as the next player up to bat. With a no-vote on the French referendum pretty much priced into the market, we know that the surprise this weekend on May 29, if any will be on the top side. Even if France does vote yes, it will still be an uphill battle for the EU Constitution. The constitution needs to be approved by all 25 EU nations, so with citizens of the Netherlands and the UK adamantly against the Constitution, there is still more uncertainty ahead for the European Union. However, with US and UK traders out for holiday on Monday the initial reaction to the voting results in the euro could be limited. Meanwhile, it is far from surprising that Eurozone economic data came in weaker than expected this morning. French producer prices grew at slower pace, business confidence dipped in May while the region’s current account surplus shrank more than expected.

British Pound

Without a significant economic release, the pound traded within a range of 60 pips against the dollar today and pretty much ended the week about 20 pips lower than its position on Monday. The only piece of news came from the British Bankers’ Association’s lending report. According to the BBA, gross lending increased by 3 percent in April, but the level is still 13 percent lower than last year’s. As a reflection of the housing market’s downturn, the net mortgage lending figure rose by GBP 4.0B, the smallest amount in over 3 years and well below the 6-month average of GBP 4.5B. The director of statistics noted this as a stabilizing period for the downward trend as spring is usually a busy time in the housing market and the increased activity will work to neutralize the effects of the recent slowdown. As we go into next week, there shouldn’t be too many large developments in the pound with a banking holiday on Monday and a fairly sparse calendar for the rest of the week.

Japanese Yen

Although it has been a pretty quiet day, the dollar is modestly higher against the Japanese yen despite marginally positive economic data. Tokyo consumer prices fell by a less than expected 0.4% on an annualized basis while retail trade increased strongly in the month of April. Things seem to be really turning up for Japan thanks to the recent retracement in oil prices and a better capacity to handle higher energy prices. However, even though consumer prices came in better than expected, they are still negative, indicating that deflation remains a persistent concern. More signs of resistance from China towards US pressure for revaluation has also weighed on the Japanese yen. Thai central bank governor chimed in on revaluation today, but this time in support of China. He said that China will not succumb to international pressure and that any change will be done with other Asian countries in the interest of regional growth.


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