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Thursday December 1, 2005 - 10:53:06 GMT
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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - European Edition

Key Points
• US data releases rather than ECB policy actions are a more probable source of EUR-USD movement today and tomorrow.
• 25bp ECB hike likely – very small chance of 50bp.
• 120 barrier on USD-JPY remains intact, but upside risk is growing.
• Swiss GDP stronger than expected. SNB could theoretically raise rates as early as today.
• Eurozone PMIs, UK PMI/CBI retail sales, US core PCE prices/manufacturing ISM also feature.

Market Outlook

EUR-USD has been quiet overnight, with the market waiting on today’s ECB meeting and US data and tomorrow’s US employment report. The ECB meeting is unlikely to significantly change market expectations about where ECB rates will be heading next year (see below), although expectations about Fed policy will be highly sensitive to developments in the US data and this will have a direct bearing on the USD.

The JPY has been soft overnight, reflecting the underlying vulnerabilities related to the zero interest rate backdrop. A break higher on USD-JPY looks increasingly likely, with the main barrier being the option-related orders protecting 120. Some weak US data may be required today to prevent this from happening.

Yesterday’s price action on EUR-GBP was significant and would appear to have put a cap on it for now. M&A flows were rumoured to be behind the move and it is not clear how far they will run, but there is risk down to 0.6765 in the short-term.

A much stronger than expected Swiss GDP number this morning has helped EUR-CHF lower, although 1.5445-50 needs to break to generate genuine downside interest. The focus is currently on the ECB and the SNB are not expected to raise rates until their policy review on December 15. However, a rate hike today cannot be ruled out, as the SNB meet every Thursday and can (and have) raise rates at any time.

Day Ahead
Eurozone – lots of data before the ECB meeting outcome and press conference, including German and Eurozone unemployment and the usual selection of Eurozone manufacturing PMIs, although this is unlikely to change market expectations about future ECB policy. German unemployment has already been leaked at -53k, although part of this improved performance may reflect the milder weather in the first half of November, amplified by the stats office now taking a mid-month rather than an end-month estimate of unemployment. Trichet’s comments at the press conference will be the major factor today and he is likely to reaffirm recent suggestions by ECB officials that they are not about to embark on a period of major policy tightening. On the rate decision itself, a 25bp hike seems highly likely, although there is a small chance of a 50bp move, purely on the basis that the ECB likes to snuff out speculation about future rate moves and has often used 50bp slugs in the past as one way of achieving this. However, in the current circumstances this may send the wrong signal about how aggressive they actually want to be on policy. Furthermore, it is not clear how much appetite for tightening there is on the council at large, given that the Eurozone growth recovery is still in its infancy and core CPI remains subdued.

UK – manufacturing PMI and the CBI retail sales survey are due. Last month saw the PMI rising to its highest level since December last year, although it is still only a modest 51.7. The CBI retail survey measures y/y growth in sales volumes and this has been extremely negative since Q1 this year. Some stabilisation should be seen today.

US – monthly personal income and expenditure numbers will also reveal the latest core PCE price index – the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation. Core PCE prices have been subdued over the past six months or so after showing strength in Q1 and this is likely to have continued. This data will be a key factor in determining market sentiment about whether the Fed will need to move policy beyond neutral territory. The state of economic activity will also be crucial to policy expectations and today’s manufacturing ISM will be highly significant in this regard. ISM has been much stronger over the past couple of months and needs to stay this way (probably above 55.0) or speculation about a pause signal from the Fed will intensify.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

SZ PMI manu (Nov) 08.30 57.0
IT PMI manu (Nov) 08.45 52.1
FR PMI manu (Nov) 08.50 52.8
DE Employment (Oct) 08.50 +25k
DE PMI manu (Nov) 08.55 53.0
EU PMI manu (Nov) 09.00 52.8
NO Unemployment rate (Nov, nsa) 09.00 3.2%
GB PMI manu (Nov) 09.30 51.8
EU Unemployment rate (Oct) 10.00 8.4%
GB CBI retail trades survey (Nov) 11.00 -18 last
EU ECB meeting outcome 12.45, press conf 13.30 2.25%
US Personal income (Oct) m/m 13.30 +0.5%
US PCE (Oct) m/m 13.30 +0.2%
US Core PCE price index (Oct) m/m 13.30 +0.2%
US Core PCE price index (Oct) y/y 13.30 +1.9%
US Initial claims (w/e Nov 26) 13.30 320k
US Continuing claims (w/e Nov 26) 13.30 2824k last
US ISM manu (Nov) 15.00 58.0
JP Monetary base (Nov) y/y 23.50 +2.9%
AU Building approvals (Oct) m/m 00.30 +2.5%
AU House prices (Q3) q/q 00.30 -0.5%

Latest data Actual Consensus*
AU Current account (Q3) -A$13.5bn -A$12.7bn
AU Private new capex (Q3) q/q +2.9% +1.0%
CN PMI manu (Nov) 54.1 54.1 last
CH GDP (Q3) q/q +1.0% +0.5%
SE PMI manu (Nov) 56.1 57.2
DE Unemployment (Nov) -53k -20k
* 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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