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Thursday August 25, 2005 - 20:43:55 GMT

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Forex: Dollar Discounts Claims Data

DailyFX Fundamentals 08-25-05

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

· Dollar Discounts Claims Data
· Euro Shrugs off IFO Report as Expectations Increase
· Inflation Expected to Tick Higher in Japan

US Dollar

The US dollar continued to lose ground against the euro despite some encouraging labor market data. Jobless claims fell to 315,000 from 319,000 last week and has remained below the 320,000 mark for the past six weeks - which is consistent with triple digit non-farm payroll gains next Friday. The help wanted index also edged higher from 38 to 39. Unfortunately this failed to prevent the dollar from sliding for the fourth straight day. The market’s focus was once again directed on oil, with the storm brewing down in the Gulf causing prices to hit yet another all-time high. The more immediate uncertainty in the months ahead lie in how much more oil will rise and its impact on consumer spending. CNN is already talking about how consumers are shifting purchases to cheaper brands in attempts to find ways to alleviate the higher costs at the pump. For the time being, the market already knows that so far, the economy is still holding up thanks to the boom in the housing market. Therefore, it has probably discounted a strong labor market report, especially since the result will not sway the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates once again on September 9th. Meanwhile Princeton economist Paul Krugman joined the ranks of economists who are calling for a housing market collapse. Krugman was quoted as saying, "I'll give you a forecast which might very well be wrong, but I think it will burst in the spring of next year." He also added that he would be surprised if the market did not burst over the next 3 years. As we have always been saying, first goes the housing market and then goes consumer spending. Oil and housing are the big themes affecting the dollar right now and we expect them to remain the predominant themes throughout the second half of the year.

The German IFO index of business confidence dipped unexpectedly in the month of July (from 95.0 to 94.6), but that hasn’t stopped the Euro from rising. Overall, recent data has been encouraging and the market is thinking big picture rather than letting themselves get too disappointment from this one release, especially since the index was driven lower by sentiment pertaining to current conditions. The expectations component continued to improve. Meanwhile Germany’s judges gave their approval to go ahead with the general elections on September 18th. Originally there were 2 members of parliament that challenged the necessity of having an election – this was modeslty bullish for the euro at the time because it took away some political uncertainty – now its back. As we stand, Schroeder’s chances for a third term for Chancellor is at risk. There are no major Eurozone economic releases scheduled for release tomorrow which means that there could be little follow through to today’s rally. Next week though, we have a very heavy US economic calendar chock full of important US data that could move markets.

British Pound

The British pound remained relatively staid during the session as traders await tomorrow’s GDP number. Released during the day’s session, total business investment for the second quarter rose 0.5 percent compared to a climb of 0.1 percent in the previous quarter. Comparatively, UK car production plunged 7.2 percent, which was a deeper slide than the previous month, lending to the notion that suppliers are scaling back on extremely sluggish demand. On another pessimistic note, a report released by the British Bankers Association suggested that home lending fell back in the month of July as owners expectations for further cuts in the short term repurchase rate increased. The lowest figure since December of 2001, borrowers are expecting the Bank of England to once again reduce the interest rate as consumer spending and output activity have not reacted at all to the most recent decision. Additionally, consumer credit figures fell 4 percent lower compared to the previous month as repayments additionally fell by 3 percent. All things considered, the lending environment remains sluggish. The one thing to consider here is the lag associated with the rate cut as effects tend to not take effect till months later. As a result, borrowers’ expectations may be hampered as rates look to be constant at 4.50 percent for the rest of the year, potentially dampening near term consumption.

Japanese Yen

The Japanese yen was confined to a twenty pip range after gaining over 70 pips before the London open in light of the benchmark Nikkei 225 closing lower and oil prices rising to yet another all time high. Nikkei losses were led by waning buying interest as well as concerns that higher oil prices would crimp the current expansion in the region. Hitting a new all time high, crude oil contracts traded to $68 a barrel for October delivery, rising 54 percent higher from a year ago. As a result, traders are anticipating potentially higher figures when both Tokyo and National consumer price figures are released later tonight. Expected to rise slightly, consensus expectations are for producers to have passed along higher energy prices in order to protect any form of profit margin as consumers remained optimistic during the month. Although this may be one of the first signs of a deflationary exodus, overall yearly figures still remain underwater, lending to the notion that further price increases would be necessary. Subsequently in the political forum, DPJ leader Katsuya Okada called for U.S. style, one on one, debates in order to ensure that the future of Japan remained intact. Stating that the country was being deprived of genuine issues, Okada challenged current PM Koizumi and said that it “would be tragic….and to shrink the debate to such a small scope is really wrong.”


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