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Friday March 24, 2006 - 11:25:27 GMT
Mellon Bank Foreign Exchange -

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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• USD strength as home sales data exposes pre- FOMC sensitivities and positioning.
• NZD falls sharply after negative GDP data and Cullen comments.
• Strong activity data not enough to support the JPY.
• Durable orders and new home sales feature today.

Market Outlook

Yesterday we suggested that the risk on existing home sales was to the downside and in doing so we temporarily forgot the first law of any data, namely that it can be volatile on a m/m basis. The bounce back in sales in February was most probably a reaction to the very sharp fall recorded in January. Averaging the two months out leaves a number of 6.74m, still well below the levels seen through 2005, while the 3-mth average (also 6.74m) is the lowest since April 2004. Overall sales are still in a cooling trend (albeit from very high levels) and this is backed up by other indicators such as pending home sales and mortgage applications, both of which have turned markedly lower in recent months.

The sharp rise in the USD in response to this data reflected two things - 1) how sensitive the market is to anything suggesting that the Fed will not offer any dovish signals at next Tuesday’s FOMC meeting and 2) the fact that positioning on EUR-USD had been built up on the long side over the past couple of weeks - pre-FOMC position cutting therefore favouring the downside.

Having made the move below support at 1.2000-30 yesterday afternoon EUR-USD has been subdued ever since and the general USD tone was also helped yesterday by USD-JPY moving above 117.40 and into the upper-half of the trading range. Today’s prospects will once again be driven by the US data and a weak new home sales number for example would go some way in offsetting the strong existing home sales number yesterday. However, the market may remain wary about a similar bounce in this series after the sharp decline recorded in January. Durable orders should remain solid, as most other indicators relating to general activity have been fairly good.

The NZD has been a major casualty overnight. The NZD had already fallen back a little with other currencies in the face of yesterday’s USD move, but this turned into a fresh rout when the Q4 GDP data came out weaker than expected. Q4 GDP was -0.1% and Q3 revised down to +0.1% from +0.2%, meaning that New Zealand was on the brink of recession in the second half of 2005. Against the current backdrop of negative sentiment this prompted a sharp fall in the NZD. It was almost immediately marked down to 0.6190 from the 0.6245 level seen before the release and it has continued to fall through the night. This latest move potentially opens the way to the main support area at 0.5900-0.6000, which should hold initially. The NZD’s plight was also not helped by a speech from NZ finance minister Cullen, who said that further NZD weakness was likely.

Japanese activity data was stronger than expected, although as mentioned yesterday, while this sort of data backdrop is essential for the potential future build-up of BoJ rate hike expectations, the main focus will be on the CPI data. There was virtually no impact on the JPY.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US Durable orders (Feb) m/m 08.30 +1.3%
US Durables ex-transport (Feb) m/m 08.30 +1.0%
US New home sales (Feb) 10.00 1200k

Latest data Actual Consensus*
NZ GDP (Q4) q/q -0.1% +0.2%
JP Tertiary activity index (Jan) m/m +2.2% +1.2%
JP All Industry index (Jan) m/m +1.4% +1.0%
DE Import prices (Feb) y/y +6.4% +6.2%
SE Trade balance (Feb) SEK12bn SEK14.5bn
* Consensus unless stated
3mth moving average

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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