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Dollar Gains Strength Ahead of Durable Goods Report

Daily Forex Report 06-23-04

· Dollar Gains Strength Ahead of Durable Goods Report
· British Pound Collapses On Dovish MPC Minutes
· Yen Rallies As Trade Surplus Reaches 4 Year High


The euro spiked higher in European trading following news that a suspicious package was found in a train station in Brooklyn NY, which later proved to be harmless. Trading remains fairly uneventful ahead of tomorrow’s US durable goods report. With April’s 3.2 percent decrease in durable goods orders, the market will be focused on the possibility of a 1.5 percent increase in May orders for goods made to last three or more years. The recently strong ISM manufacturing survey and May industrial production report suggests that orders should be strong. Both the durable goods orders including aircraft and defense orders and core durable goods (ex defense) is expected to rise strongly. This would lend support to the notion that the economy will probably grow by 4.6 percent in the current year with an already 4.4 percent expansion for the first three months. Improved demand may lift profits and increase the incentives of healthy corporate spending throughout the second half of this year. The dollar and dollar related news should dictate tomorrow’s currency movements.


After a few days of relatively quiet trading in the dollar, we may see a bit of limited volatility tomorrow with US durable goods orders, new home sales and initial claims slated for release. Claims are expectedly to increase from 336k to 340k. Most of last week’s decline could be attributed to the closing of some State Labor offices for the President Reagan National Day of Mourning. Meanwhile, new home sales have been fairly volatile in recent months. Home sales are expected to rebound after April’s 11% decline. However, with mortgage rates increasing, the rebound is expected to be minimal. There are also reports in the financial market publications about a pending legislation that would grant a one-off tax holiday for US corporations to encourage repatriation of foreign earnings. Many are saying that the repatriation would result in significant FX flows, which may be true, but it is also important to remember that many US corporations currently hedge these balances and repatriation would require a reversal of the hedge, which means that the net FX impact will be minimal.


The British pound collapsed against the dollar following the release of the minutes from the June 9/10 monetary policy meeting. The minutes indicate that the committee voted 9-0 to keep rates unchanged and did not discuss raising rates by 50bp after having discussed it in May. This confirms that the BoE will not be raising rates for a fourth time this year on July 8. The bank also noted that “the balance of risks had moved toward the upside, given the tightening in the labor market and the more broadly based world recovery.” However, “household debt continued to rise rapidly and to outstrip earnings growth.” It appears that the BoE will now be adopting a more gradualist approach. The markets are also shifting their focus away from the central banks who have been tightening to the central banks who are just beginning to tighten or dismissing an easier monetary policy.


The Japanese growth story is back in focus as the country’s trade surplus increased 31% from April to a four year high and exports soared to a new record. More specifically, Japan’s trade surplus with China increased 21%, led by gains in demand for electronic equipment. This highlights the important role that China plays in Japan’s economic recovery but also the risk that Japan faces if China slows down at a faster than expected pace. Rising exports have helped to boost corporate spending in Japan. Business spending has amounted to about 20% of Japan’s 6.1% Q1 GDP growth. However, despite fundamentals supporting further strength in the Japanese yen, the market remains cautious, especially following comments from MoF Watanbe, who warned that, “Japan is ready to take action on foreign exchange rates if needed.” Although the BoJ has not intervened in the currency markets since March, the possibility of intervention still remains a threat. The next economic release that we are expecting from Japan is the tertiary activity index and all industry activity index, both of which are expected to increase strongly.

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