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Tuesday June 29, 2004 - 20:47:28 GMT -

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US Consumer Confidence Rises To 2 Yr High

DailyFX Forex Report 06-29-04

· US Consumer Confidence Rises To 2 Yr High
· UK Gfk Consumer Confidence Declines
· Japanese Small Business Confidence Slips

The euro came under pressure today following an exceptionally robust US consumer confidence report. According to the Conference Board, US consumer confidence rose to a 2 year high from a revised 93.1 to 101.9 in the month of June. Increases were seen in the assessment of both current conditions and future expectations. With a number of impressive payroll reports and easing gasoline prices, consumers were more upbeat than the market expected. Meanwhile, although French business confidence rose to a 3 year high, adding pressure on the euro were comments made earlier today from French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who warned that France’s jobless figures, which are scheduled for release tomorrow morning will “remain bad.” Although the number of unemployed individuals in France has been falling, the unemployment rate currently stands at 9.8%, which is 0.1% below the 4 year high. The Eurozone unemployment rate is also at a 4-year high. Although the FOMC rate decision will undermine the significance of the heavy European economic calendar, there are a number of upcoming releases to mention. Aside from the unemployment rate, France will also be releasing their consumer confidence report, and first quarter GDP. Italy will be releasing CPI and unemployment, while the Eurozone is scheduled to release the region’s collective confidence reports.

Yesterday, we went into length about the significance of tomorrow’s FOMC statement. To reiterate, Friday’s weaker than expected US GDP report and Thursday’s durable goods orders report has essentially solidified a 25bp rate hike on Wednesday. With the market now pricing in approximately 130bp of tightening by year-end, unless the Fed buffers a 25bp rate decision with substantially hawkish comments, bullish dollar sentiment could suffer. Taking a look at the economy since the last rate meeting, where the Fed replaced “patient” with “measured,” the unemployment rate declined from 5.7% to 5.6%. We saw increases in average hourly earnings, housing starts, industrial production, capacity utilization, CPI, PPI, the ISM manufacturing index, consumer confidence and auto sales. However, during the same period, the growth in retail sales retrenched, durable goods orders declined, GDP disappointed and the trade deficit widened. Aside from the FOMC rate decision at 2:15pm EST, the US will also be releasing the Chicago PMI report. We expect the index to retrace after surging to a 16-year high last month.

The British pound tumbled over 250 pips as UK consumer confidence fell from –2 to –4 in the month of June. The report indicates that after raising rates 3 times this year with the possibility of more rate hikes to come, the Bank of England’s tightening measures are beginning to impact consumer sentiment. Aside from sentiment, we may also be seeing the beginning of a shift in consumer behavior. House price inflation eased modestly this month, from 19.5% to 19.1%. Lending secured on homes also fell from a downwardly revised 9.4B to 8.6B. Net consumer credit however, continued to rise from 1.3B to 1.6B. Tomorrow, there are a number of important UK economic releases, including the Q1 GDP report, private consumption, government spending and the current account balance for the first quarter. The estimated 0.6 percent growth in GDP will be disappointing compared to the last quarter as UK manufacturing continues to constrain growth. Total manufacturing is expected to shrink by 0.5 percent from the past quarter while service and retail continues to boom. Service activity will most likely grow by 0.8% over the previous quarter. The disparity between the two sectors is mostly caused by the favorable conditions for service and retail from the continued housing boom, low interest rates, and higher consumer spending, while manufacturing still struggles with recovering exports.

The latest batch of Japanese economic data has been disappointing. For the third consecutive day, the Japanese yen gave back some of its recent gains against the dollar as industrial production increased a paltry 0.5%. Small business confidence also declined for the third month in a row to 49.7. Although the worsened sentiment could hint at a weaker Tankan survey, we caution against jumping to conclusions as there has been a growing disparity between the current health and prospects of small corporations versus large corporations. Despite the economy’s rapid recovery, small firms continue to struggle.


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