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Friday September 23, 2005 - 12:33:12 GMT
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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• USD move yesterday suggests more strength next week if Rita damage is contained.
• Hurricane uncertainty will not be resolved until the weekend.
• GBP still looking vulnerable – ‘outside day’ yesterday for USD-CAD.
• China makes technical adjustment to FX system.
• G8 meeting features today.

Market Outlook

The market’s ‘hurricane watch’ continues and while Rita was downgraded a notch yesterday it remains an extremely powerful storm that has the potential to inflict much damage on the refinery industry that stands in its way. Clarity on the issue will not be provided until after the close today. However, despite all of this the USD strength seen yesterday was significant, as it suggests that there will be further upside scope next week as long as the hurricane does not wreak too much havoc. This remains the key uncertainty. Keep an eye on the USD index, which is close to the August high of 88.84. Above there could be significant for general USD performance.

EUR-USD has been erring towards the downside through the European morning, but 1.2100 will be difficult to break today, even though this is a clear risk for next week. GBP has again been a poor performer this morning and further EUR-GBP upside is fancied today as long as 0.6775 can hold. There is scope towards 0.6850. The G8 meeting is also due today (see below), although there is unlikely to be much departure from previous sentiments.

There was some volatility following the Chinese announcement in the European morning, but the JPY was only left modestly higher against the EUR and USD. China widened the daily fluctuation band to 3% for the CNY against non-USD currencies compared to 1.5% previously. The USD-CNY band remains at a daily 0.3%. This looks to be a technical move to improve the workings of the basket i.e. providing them with more flexibility to adjust the CNY against non-USD currencies in response to daily movements in the USD against these non-USD currencies. This is why the band was larger in the first place, but evidently they now feel that it needs to be wider. A separate measure was to relax the limits on the bid-offer spreads that banks can quote when dealing with clients. On non-USD currencies banks can now set their own bid-offer spreads, while against the USD the spread has been widened to 4% above or below the middle rate from the 1% previously in place.

Overall this is merely a technical move, but the second measure is another very small step in the direction of liberalisation. The timing of this before the G8 meeting is probably no accident, but it is certainly a long way from making any further adjustments to the key USD-CNY mechanism, which many had been calling for a while back as a possible precursor to this IMF/G8 get together.

USD-CAD was the most significant mover yesterday, recording an outside reversal day (both high and low outside that recorded the previous day and closing near the high). This leaves a big risk of more upside today to the 1.1770-1.1800 area, even though we would still look for more USD-CAD downside in the weeks ahead.

Day Ahead
G8 – the finance ministers meeting will be watched for any sign of a change in attitude towards Asian currencies in light of the CNY regime change. However, while they are likely to formally welcome the new CNY system, their basic call for more flexibility is likely to remain in place. As it currently stands the CNY move is seen as a first step and the G8 will want to maintain that view. A stronger Asian currency environment is still seen by the G8 as the most preferable in light of the desired correction of global imbalances.

Eurozone – Belgian business confidence is due today and given its fairly close relationship with IFO any sharp swings may influence expectations about the latter, which is due out on= Tuesday. Given the German election stalemate, the focus on the IFO next week may be higher than usual. German state CPIs also start to appear from today (Hesse +0.3% m/m, Saxony +0.6% m/m are already out) and energy prices are likely to push the headline y/y rate above 2%. However, while the ECB will be wary of such strength influencing wage demands, they will take comfort in the softness in core y/y rates in the Eurozone. For example, in the Bundesbank’s version of German CPI, which provides a measure excluding energy, the y/y rate has been edging lower over the past year and currently stands at +0.9%.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

JP Market holiday
DE CPI states (Sep, prel) m/m from today +0.1%
BE Business confidence (Sep) 09.00 -11.4
G8 Finance ministers meeting

Latest data Actual Consensus*
DE Import prices (Aug) y/y +4.7% +4.5%
NO Unemployment rate (Jul, sa) 4.8% 4.7% last
IT Retail sales (Jul) m/m -0.3% +0.2%
* Consensus unless stated

2005, Mellon Financial Corporation Note: Although obtained from sources believed by us to be reliable, Mellon Financial Corporation and its affiliates cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information upon which this report is based. This report does not purport to disclose the risks or benefits of entering into particular transactions and should not be construed as advice in any specific instance. The views in this report constitute our judgement as of this date and are subject to change without notice.
Ian Gunner 44 20 7163 5996 06.40 EDT Monday May 31 2005


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