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Tuesday January 17, 2006 - 11:32:17 GMT
Mellon Bank Foreign Exchange -

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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• USD slightly stronger in Asia and Europe.
• Some talk of CB interest in EUR-USD after recent bump up in Asian reserves.
• NZD troubled by business confidence data – CPI out later today.
• UK CPI weaker than expected.
• NY Fed index and US industrial output feature today.

Market Outlook

The USD is looking a little better this morning, although the market is essentially awaiting the return of the US after yesterday’s holiday and some direction from the week’s economic releases (the NY Fed index and US industrial output feature today – see below). EUR-USD did dip lower early in theAsian session, with stops being triggered following the break below yesterday’s low at 1.2107 and 1.2100. It recovered equally quickly amidst talk of CB demand for EURs, but the rally has not been sustained in Europe. Likewise, USD-JPY was above 115.00 for a while in Asia but the pullback lower has not been greeted with enthusiasm in Europe. The 1.20-1.22 range needs to break on EUR-USD to offer any hope of meaningful direction, while 115.00-50 needs to be won back as a first step to rebuilding confidence in USD-JPY – support at 113.50. Fresh developments may require something definitive on the data front this week.

The speculation about CB interest in EUR-USD is notsurprising perhaps after the news of the past couple of days – Chinese reserves rising almost $50bn in Q4 and $24bn in December alone, while Korea revealed this morning that their reserves rose $4.27bn in the first two weeks of this year. This will inevitably prompt speculation about such a rise in USD holdings being recycled into other currencies.

Australian housing finance was up modestly, but in keeping with other recent economic indicators out of Australia, there is no excessive weakness or strength at the present time and consequently no fresh impetus for RBA policy expectations.

In New Zealand, Q4 business confidence hit its lowest level for 20-years, prompting a downmove in the NZD. This is something the RBNZ is mindful of in trying to fight excessive household spending – hurting the sectors more exposed to export markets and the high exchange rate. CPI is due later today and as is typically the case with inflation data the implications for the exchange rate are not straightforward. The RBNZ has warned that the more they have to tighten to get the current situation under the control the greater the chance of a real mess when the household sector bubble finally bursts. In this regard, for example, more unwanted strength in CPI that potentially compels the RBNZ to tighten even more would not exactly be positive for prospective NZ economic fundamentals, even though it may spur hopes of higher rates in the short-term. Likewise a soft CPI may actually contribute to a softening in such tensions. Retail sales data due later in the week will also be important. Steering clear of the NZD seems to be the best option given current uncertainties about future economic performance and the very large current account deficit.

UK CPI data was weaker than expected adding to the generally soft tone to inflation numbers in recent months. Core CPI y/y fell to +1.3% – the weakest since February 2005 – pushing EURGBP slightly higher. However, the more encouraging news of late from retail and housing sectors have led the market into believing that rate cuts may not be pursued in the very short term. Also this morning, BoE governor King said he is getting the impression that economic activity is picking up a little. The UK RICS survey (out this evening instead of yesterday) will likely show more evidence of a recovery in house prices. EURGBP remains stuck in a 0.6810-0.6910 range.

Day Ahead
US – the NY Fed index and official industrial output data is duetoday, with the market possibly a little uncertain about what is currently going on in the manufacturing sector. Last month sawa sharp rise in the NY Fed index to its highest level since July 2004, but the Philly Fed index was steady and the latest manufacturing ISM was weaker than expected. Some clarification will be sought from this week’s releases - the Philly Fed survey is due on Thursday.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US Chain store sls (w/e Jan 14) w/w 07.45 +0.1% last
CA Leading indicators (Dec) m/m 08.30 +0.4%
US NY Fed index (Jan) 08.30 21.0
US Redbook sls (w/e Jan 14) m/m 08.55 -0.5% last
US Ind prod (Dec) m/m 09.15 +0.5%
US Capacity utilisation (Dec) 09.15 80.5%
NZ CPI (Q4) q/q 16.45 +0.8%
NZ CPI (Q4) y/y 16.45 +3.3%
US ABC consumer conf (w/e Jan 16) 17.00 -8 last
GB RICS house prices (Dec) 19.01 +8%

Latest data Actual Consensus*
NZ Business confidence (Q4) -61 -32 last
AU Housing finance (Nov) m/m +0.4% 0.0%
JP Consumer confidence (Dec) 46.7 48.0
IT Ind prod (Nov) m/m +0.1% +0.8%
GB CPI (Dec) y/y +2.0% +2.0%
GB CPI core (Dec) y/y +1.3% +1.5%
GB RPIX (Dec) y/y +2.0% +2.2%
GB RPI (Dec) y/y +2.2% +2.3%
* 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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