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Thursday June 17, 2004 - 21:12:07 GMT -

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Dollar Struggles Despite Stronger US Data

DailyFX Fundamentals 06-17-04

· Dollar Struggles Despite Stronger US Data
· Swiss Franc Rallies As SNB Surprises With 25bp Rate Hike
· Pound Continues Higher As UK Retail Sales Surge


Eurozone industrial production increased a less than expected 0.2% mom and 1.7% yoy during the month of April. However, despite this weaker gain, industrial production in Germany, the Eurozone’s largest member, increased an impressive 2.3% mom. France and Spain on the other hand, experience negative IP growth, while Italy registered modest gains. Economic data seems to have negligible effect on the EURUSD. The dollar failed to rally despite stronger US economic data. The delayed US PPI report was released today - producer prices for the month of May jumped 0.8%, which was the fastest pace in 14 months. Excluding the volatile food and energy component, producer prices increased a greater than expected 0.3%. Yesterday, Fed President Guynn told the Consumer Banking Association that the Fed is “several hundred basis points behind what would be a more normal policy setting.” Claims were reported at 336k and the Philly Fed survey at 28.9, while leading indicators increased 0.5%. All of these releases were improvements from the previous months and above consensus expectations. However, like we mentioned yesterday, continually improving US economic data and moderately higher inflation has already been priced into the market. As a result, we continue to expect the majors to consolidate ahead of the June 30th FOMC meeting. Traders will be buying dollars near the lows and selling towards recent highs.


The Swiss franc was the market’s biggest mover today. In its quarterly monetary policy assessment released on June 17, 2004 the Swiss National Bank surprised the markets by raising the target range for their three-month LIBOR rate by 25bp to 0.0% - 1.0%. The Bank noted that, “since the economic recovery has strengthened and the threat of deflation has disappeared, monetary policy will be tightened slightly.” The Swiss economy is reviving after three years of little or no growth and according to SNB President Roth, economic growth may accelerate to between 2-2.5% in 2005, which would be the fastest pace in four years. In addition, despite a temporary rise in inflation induced by higher oil prices, the Bank expects inflation pressures to remain stable, averaging 0.6% this year, 1% in 2005 and 2% in 2006 - this is a slight upward revision to their inflation estimates last quarter. According to the SNB, “notwithstanding this interest rate rise, the National Bank will adhere to its expansionary monetary policy. It will continue to support the upswing and to keep the attractiveness of Swiss franc investments low.” However, should inflationary pressures begin to grow, there is scope for further rate hikes.


Unsurprisingly, UK retail increased a greater than expected 0.8% last month. Warm weather helped to spark the fastest growth in consumer spending in 2 years. As we continued to stress, economic data has only confirmed the strength of the UK economy and resilience of UK consumers to the central bank’s interest rate hikes thus far. If you recall, the Bank of England raised rates by another 25bp on May 6. At the time, they cited robust consumer spending as one of their primary reasons for the need to tighten monetary policy a third time this year. Although we have a light UK economic calendar next week, we are expecting the minutes from the meeting held earlier this month. Until then, 1.85 may still prove to be a formidable level of resistance in the GBPUSD.


According to the MoF’s latest portfolio flow data, foreign investors liquidated their Japanese bond holdings for the third consecutive week. Given the recent rise in longer-term JGB yields, it is not a surprise to see profit taking. In contrast, foreign investors increased their equity holdings by the largest amount since April. Even more encouraging was an article in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun that reported that foreign holdings of Japanese equities increased to a record 21.8%. This is a 93% increase from the previous year. As the economy continues to expand, foreign demand for Japanese equities should remain robust, which will benefit the yen.


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