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Thursday March 23, 2006 - 11:39:20 GMT
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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• EUR-USD steady – market on hold ahead of FOMC – but today’s US existing home sales data could affect sentiment.
• Japanese export strength confirms positive backdrop for economic activity.
• NZD looking better from a short-term perspective but today’s GDP is a potential hurdle.
• US jobless claims also feature today.

Market Outlook

Not much has changed for EUR-USD overnight. The market is now on hold ahead of next week’s FOMC meeting and while there is a risk of some additional slippage if positions are cut
back, this is unlikely to be dramatic. Ongoing ECB policy developments remain favourable for the EUR and more ECB comments could be seen today. In addition, today’s US data could also influence the USD and if there is a risk on this number it is to the downside (see below). 1.2000-35 should probably hold EUR-USD unless there is some US data strength over the next couple of days. 1.2085 and 1.2120 are intra-day levels of importance on the topside.

Japanese trade data showed a slightly higher than expected seasonably adjusted trade surplus, including another strong 3.3% m/m rise in exports. Monthly activity indices due tonight should also show trend strength in economic activity. However, while this is necessary for the ongoing development of BoJ policy prospects, further strength in the inflation numbers will be required to significantly bring forward expectations of an actual rate hike. This seems unlikely until September/October.

Eurozone balance of payments for January showed another current account deficit (Jul-Jan now a cumulative deficit of €36.2bn), while there was a net inflow of €5bn on FDI, bucking the trend of recent months. There was another big net outflow on bonds (€30bn), primarily due to Eurozone investor purchases of overseas bonds (€34bn), while there was a €8bn net outflow on the equity category. Recent months have seen decent equity inflows. There was no market impact.

In the UK, the CBI manufacturing trends survey showed a further recovery in indicators like orders and output, suggesting that more buoyant conditions in the Eurozone are offering UK manufacturers some support. Support on EUR-GBP is at 0.6890-0.6900.

Day Ahead
US – existing home sales will be the main focal point data wise today. This series has been weakening over the past few months and pending home sales (a good lead indicator of existing home sales) have also been falling. On this basis the risk is for a weaker number today. Weekly jobless claims data is out and it will be interesting to see whether initial claims have risen any further from the lower levels seemingly secured in January and February.

New Zealand – Q4 GDP is out later today and with NZD sentiment in a state of flux a stronger or weaker than expected number could generate some movement. Overriding vulnerabilities on the NZD remain firmly in place, but oversold conditions bit back yesterday with the NZD recording an ‘outside day’. This suggests a good chance of some recovery in the very short-term, but GDP is a potential hurdle. Furthermore, while there is a risk of a technical bounce over the next couple of days, the overall risk remains to the downside. 0.6400-75 could be seen on any bounce. Above 0.6300 today would trigger a further upmove.

Data/event EDT Consensus*
US Initial claims (w/e Mar 18) 08.30 305k
US Continuing claims (w/e Mar 11) 08.30 2445k last
NO Norges Bank’s Bergo on policy 08.30
US Existing home sales (Feb) 10.00 6.50m
EU ECB’s Mersch at Lux CB annual results press conf 10.00
EU ECB’s Trichet at EU Council on employment & energy 11.00
CH SNB’s Hildebrand & Jordan on policy 12.00
EU ECB’s Trichet speaks 12.30
NZ GDP (Q4) q/q 16.45 +0.2%
JP Tertiary activity index (Jan) m/m 18.50 +1.2%
JP All Industry index (Jan) m/m 18.50 +1.0%
AU RBA Financial Stability Review 19.15

Latest data Actual Consensus*
NZ Current account (Q4) -NZ$3.9bn -NZ$3.7bn
JP Trade balance (Feb, sa) ¥683bn ¥673bn
EU Current account (Jan) -€3.3bn -€5.3bn last
IT Retail sales (Jan) m/m +0.1% -0.2%
GB CBI manu trends output bal (Mar) +13% +10% 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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