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ECB Officials Continue To Warn About Inflation

DailyFX Fundamentals 06-21-04

· ECB Officials Continue To Warn About Inflation
· Stronger Swiss Industrial Production
· Yen Rallies As Nikkei Rises Close To 2%


With the lack of any US economic data, the EURUSD has been trapped in a relatively tight 50-pip trading range. This morning, Eurozone officials including ECB Weber, Issing, Liebscher and Tumpell-Gugerell stressed the ECB’s new collective concern with the inflationary impact of rising oil prices. Although all of the officials speaking noted that inflation has yet to become a grave concern, ECB Issing believes that the ECB would have to react to “second round effects” if inflation expectations become too excessive. As we all know, the ECB has a tendency to use its words to prepare the markets for any shift in their monetary policy bias or upcoming interest rate changes. Perhaps, their recent comments can be interpreted as a gradual dismissal of their easy monetary policy. Euribor interest rate futures are currently indicating that the market anticipates a rate hike by year-end - the December contracts settled at a yield of 2.46%. Tomorrow, we are expecting the German ZEW economic sentiment survey for the month June, which is the most important release from the Eurozone this week. Economic sentiment is expected to improve after the drop in May. Oil prices have come off their peak in May, while equity market performance has improved and the exchange rate has remained relatively stable.


The light US calendar and “quiet period” for FOMC officials should lead to a few days of range trading for the US dollar ahead of Thursday’s durable goods report. Although last week’s deficit data was a reminder that the current account deficit’s burden on the US dollar has yet to evaporate, the market has chosen to push out its significance ahead of next week’s FOMC meeting. However, to elaborate on some of the points that we made on Friday in regards to the unhealthy funding of the deficit, the details of the report indicate that there was a net equity outflow. This indicates that despite the healthy recovery in the US, the growth has had a limited ability to attract foreign investment into the equity market. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, industrial production increased 4.5% YoY in Q1 and fell by a less than expected –2.4% QoQ. Manufacturing activity is rebounding, which will be positive for the KoF leading indicators report expected on June 30th. The Swiss interest rate curve is pricing in aggressive tightening by the SNB. The December contracts are currently yielding 1.23%.


More range trading looks to be the fate for the pound ahead of Wednesday’s MPC minutes from the June 9/10 meeting where the Bank of England raised rates by 25bp to 4.50%, which is also the most important release from the UK this week. In the past week, we saw CPI rising strongly, another robust retail sales report, impressive unemployment data, and strong wage growth. These releases will provide a strong justification for the MPC’s decision to raise rates for the third time this year earlier last month. What to watch for is whether the BoE seriously discussed the possibility of hiking rates by 50bp. A more hawkish tone could help the pound break out of its recent range, while indication of a more gradualist policy going forward will weigh on the currency. According to a Bloomberg survey conducted on Friday, 36 out of 41 economists polled expect the BoE to leave rates unchanged on July 8th.


The Japanese yen continues to rally against the dollar as the Nikkei soars close to 2% overnight. Since last month, the Nikkei has rallied 8.3%, which has coincided with a 5% slide in USDJPY. With oil prices out of the spotlight, movements in the Japanese yen have been closely tied to the domestic equity market performance. Machine tool orders increased an as expected 55.2% YoY, while convenience store sales fell 0.7% YoY. There are a few important economic releases including the tertiary industry activity index, the CPI report and a BoJ monetary policy meeting. The key release that the market is focusing on though is next week’s Tankan report. The report is expected to show that corporations are becoming increasingly optimistic about the economic recovery. However, despite fundamentals continuing to support a lower USDJPY, the fear of a renewed uptrend in oil prices amidst continued tensions in the Middle East will keep bears from becoming too aggressive.


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