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Friday April 30, 2004 - 20:57:13 GMT -

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No Intervention in Yen in April

Daily Forex Report 04-30-04

· Higher US Chicago PMI & Confidence
· SNB Roth Says Monetary Policy Must Remain Expansionary For The Time Being
· Japanese Ministry of Finance Does Not Intervene in April


One-month risk reversals have just turned in favor of euro calls versus puts, highlighting the short-term shift in sentiment as the sell off in the euro loses steam. On Monday, ten new countries will be joining the European Union. Although this is a milestone event the actual impact on the currency market should be muted. Collectively, the GDP of the ten new member countries only increases the GDP of the entire European Union by 4.8%. Also, joining the European Union does not automatically mean that the countries will be adopting the euro. Take Britain for example, they are also apart of the European Union, but the decision of whether they will adopt the euro is still up in the air. Although ascending countries are expected to adopt the euro eventually, the actual conversion could take years, with the earliest adoption not expected until 2006.


Despite today’s generally stronger economic data, the dollar has not been able to shake off the residual losses from yesterday’s weak GDP report. The personal spending report confirms that the shortfall in GDP came primarily as a result of the market’s overestimation of consumer spending. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) deflator, which is one of Greenspan’s favorite inflation barometers increased from 1.5% to 1.6%. This move is not a surprise given yesterday’s higher inflation indicators. The University of Michigan confidence index accelerated from 93.2 to 94.2, which follows the upward surprise in this past Tuesday’s Conference Board consumer confidence survey. Chicago PMI also increased from 57.6 to 61.0, confirming the gradual improvements in the manufacturing sector. In the week ahead, the most important event is Tuesday’s FOMC monetary policy meeting. As we have previously mentioned, the Fed will remain on hold, but their statement is expected to be more hawkish. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, SNB Roth took some of the fire out of the comments that Hildebrand made earlier this week. He said that although interest rates will not stay at zero forever, monetary policy must remain accommodative and now is not the time to raise rates.


The Bank of England will be meeting to discuss monetary policy next week. This decision will be another close call as there are clear arguments for and against an immediate rate hike. The past two interest rate hikes have not been able to slow the housing market and consumer spending, both of which are primary concerns for the BoE. The problem is that even though the BoE still fears that a sharp collapse in house price valuations could lead to destructive consumer retrenchment, low consumer price inflation may prevent the central bank from raising rates in May. If you recall, last week, CPI fell to 1.1% yoy during the month of March, slightly shy of the central bank’s minimum acceptable rate of 1.0%. However, the comments earlier this week from BoE Monetary Policy Committee member Tucker did favor a rate hike, as he said that the fall in inflation is not a big deal and borrowing may have to rise as high as 5.5% before they stop stimulating the economy.


The latest data from the Japanese Ministry of Finance indicates that the Japanese government was not behind April’s 5.4% rally in USDJPY, suggesting that the government has ended their campaign to weaken the yen. The rally instead, has been a result of dual forces 1) seasonal portfolio outflows in the beginning of the year and 2) concern that the active measures China is taking to slowdown their economy will hurt Japan’s economic recovery. The basis of this concern is Japan’s high dependency on Chinese demand. China is Japan’s second largest export market and accounted for nearly 80% of Japan’s export growth last year. Meanwhile, the Japanese unemployment rate fell to a three year low of 4.7%, as a result of an improving labor market. However, the disparity continues between large and small firms. Employment in large firms has been increasing steadily, while employment in smaller firms with 29 workers or less, saw the sixth consecutive monthly decline.


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