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Forex - Dollar Skyrockets As Traders Front Run Payrolls Report

DailyFX Fundamentals 03-07-06

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of www.dailyfx.com

• Dollar Skyrockets As Traders Front Run Payrolls Report
• Bank of Canada Raises Rates by Quarter Point
• Yen Recuperates Against all Majors Except Dollar

US Dollar

In two days, the EUR/USD erased nearly all of the past month’s gains. With expectations continuing to build up for an extremely strong non-farm payrolls report, traders are either squaring Euro shorts or buying up dollars in anticipation of a good number. The latest rally today was triggered by comments from Federal Reserve President Poole who argued that if economic data is consistently strong over the next few months, then the Fed may have to increase rates more aggressively. On the housing market, he felt that even though housing may be flat to slightly down, he doesn’t feel that it puts the economy in “danger of stalling.” The strong move is particularly questionable given that Poole is a non-voter. Judging from the market’s price action, it is quite clear that traders were looking for a reason to front-run the payrolls report. We mentioned yesterday that the whisper number is as high as 300k, and if the number proves to be that strong, the market will quickly be discounting the possibility of 5.25 percent rates. However aside from jobless claims being strong, other US data has not been as rosy as we would have liked. Just today, productivity growth was revised from -0.6 percent to -0.5 percent. Even though the revision was an improvement, it was far weaker than the market’s -0.1 percent forecast. Consumer credit was also up a mere $3.94 billion in January compared to the market’s $5.0 billion forecast. This follows the weaker home sales figures that we saw last week as well as disappointing consumer confidence, personal spending and personal consumption figures. With little on the US calendar tomorrow, the dollar bullishness in the market is not likely to dissipate. Fed Chairman Bernanke is scheduled to speak, but the topic is on community banking and not the economy or monetary policy. Therefore any hope for a shift in trend will have to be deferred to Thursday, when the trade balance is due for release. Meanwhile the Bank of Canada increased interest rates by a quarter of a point to 3.75 percent. However the CAD weakened despite the move because the Bank of Canada toned down its statement. Citing surprise that the CAD has strengthened to a 14 year high recently, the BoC said that “some modest further increase” in interest rates “may be required.” This compares to their previous statement, which took a harsher stance, saying that further moderate increases “would be required.” The subtle shift from “would” to “may” cemented a near term bottom in USD/CAD.

Euro

The Euro saw its value erode as the US dollar strengthened across the board. German factory orders increased strongly in January, rising by 1.4 percent with a non-seasonally adjusted year over year growth of 14.3 percent. Exports have been growing steadily thanks to the weakness of the Euro. This has allowed the ECB to remain confidently hawkish as the latest move in the Euro suggests that their most recent interest rate hike has done little to dent economic growth. ECB council member Garganas was the latest central banker to back up Trichet’s view that interest rates remain very low and accommodative. It is clear that for the most part, there is solidarity within the central bank and we are nearly certain that we will see another interest rate hike next month. Like the US, the Eurozone economic calendar is very light tomorrow. In fact, nothing is due for release except for comments by ECB member Mersch. This makes it even more likely that dollar sentiment will continue to sway markets.

British Pound

Positive economic data has helped the British pound hold onto more of its gains on a percentage basis than the Euro. BRC retail sales rose 0.6 percent in February compared to 0.2 percent growth the previous month. Although the improvement is marginal, it is certainly encouraging. Over the past two weeks, we have seen mixed to positive data, which leans the Bank of England closer to neutral than dovish. For the time being, the BoE is not expected to make any changes to their monetary policy. Their on-hold stance means just one thing for the EUR/GBP and GBP/USD, which is that the interest rate spread between the two currencies will be moving further away from the pound’s favor.

Japanese Yen

The dollar continued its aggressive climb against the Japanese Yen. In 3 days, the Yen has lost nearly all of its past month’s gains. We are seeing a bit of a decoupling though as the Yen extended its losses against the dollar, but actually recuperated most of yesterday’s losses against all of the other currency pairs. The Bank of Japan is due to announce their monetary policy decision on Thursday, which means that we have one more night to wait. Although most analysts expect the BoJ to postpone ending quantitative easing to April, traders are still holding their breath in anticipation of any surprise moves. There are a handful of Japanese economic releases due out tonight and like last night’s machinery orders report, more improvements are expected.

 

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