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Tuesday March 14, 2006 - 11:34:20 GMT
Mellon Bank Foreign Exchange -

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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• Yellen remark checks general flow of hawkish Fed comment.
• USD remains soft overnight, but today’s data releases could be significant. German ZEW survey falls back.
• USD should retain overall upside bias until there is more evidence of a peak in the funds rate.
• Weak NZ retail sales report suggests more NZD losses.
• US retail sales, balance of payments and business inventories/sales feature. BoP data will offer more information on Homeland Investment flows.

Market Outlook

The USD has remained fairly soft through the night, helped by the comments made to reporters yesterday by San Francisco Fed governor Yellen. Shortly after making a speech and conducted a Q&A session at the NABE, she told reporters that the Fed would have to be careful not to raise rates too far. This is of course one voice and comes after recent comments from other officials – Geithner, Poole and Moskow – that have been on the hawkish side. However, it pushed EUR-USD higher and USD-JPY eventually broke below support at 118.75.

How things turn out today will depend upon the tone of today’s US data (see below) and this morning’s Eurozone data was weaker than expected. The ZEW numbers for Germany and the Eurozone slipped lower, but remain at relatively high levels. However, these lower outcomes may help to neutralise market optimism about a further rise in the German IFO when it is released on March 20. Overall, the market still seems unwilling to pursue any major direction on EUR-USD. If anything the overall bias remains on the downside and this will continue to be the case until there is more convincing evidence about the emergence of softer data in the US and a peak in the funds rate.

More problems for the NZD following a weaker than expected outcome for January retail sales and a downward revision to Dec (-0.3% from 0.0% previously). This will add to perceptions that the household sector is on the verge of sliding lower, suggesting the likelihood of more losses for the NZD. Next support is at 0.6240 and this could be seen at some point this week. Below there would expose 0.6150 and 0.6000.

Day Ahead
US – retail sales, Q4 balance of payments and business sales/inventories all feature. Retail sales are likely to show some pullback after the very strong numbers reported in January (total +2.3% m/m, ex-autos +2.2%), although this will have to be fairly drastic or accompanied by some big downward revisions to January if market perceptions about underlying sales trends are to be seriously affected. Q4 balance of payments data is likely to confirm another big widening in the current account deficit and will also show how much Homeland Investment Act repatriation was recorded for Q4. Homeland Investment flows can be fairly well measured by looking at ‘reinvested earnings abroad’ of US companies. Repatriation counts as a negative on this component of FDI and while it is impossible to quantify the effect with 100% accuracy, the deviation in ‘reinvested earnings’ from the typical trend suggests that repatriation was around $120bn in Q1-Q3 2005. It is widely believed that much of the flow probably took place at the end of the year, so Q4 could see something well in excess of $100bn.

If there is a very big repatriation number this could lead to talk about the USD having been artificially inflated in Nov/Dec and that such conditions will not be repeated. However, such a USD negative conclusion must be qualified by the fact that it is not clear how much of this repatriation was pure USD flow. The funds could have already been held in USD, e.g. Treasuries, or hedged, in which case the hedge would have been unwound. In both cases there would be corresponding outflows recorded elsewhere in the balance of payments.

Business sales have been recording decent growth for some time, suggesting no involuntary build-up in inventories.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US Chain store sls (w/e Mar 4) w/w 07.45 +0.2% last
US Current account (Q4) 08.30 -$218.0bn
US Retail sales (Feb) m/m 08.30 -0.8%
US Retail sales ex-autos (Feb) m/m 08.30 -0.5%
US Business inventories (Jan) m/m 08.30 +0.3%
US Redbook sls (w/e Mar 4) m/m 08.55 -2.5% last
US ABC consumer conf (w/e Mar 13) 17.00 -9 last
AU Consumer sentiment (Mar) 18.30 +1.8% last
Latest data Actual Consensus*
NZ Retail trade (Jan) m/m 0.0% +0.5%
JP Ind prod (Jan, final) m/m +0.4% +0.3%
FR CPI (Feb) y/y +1.9% +1.9%
ES CPI (Feb) y/y +4.0% +4.1%
DE ZEW expectations (Mar) 63.4 71.0
EU ZEW expectations (Mar) 61.1 66.0 last
* 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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