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Thursday April 13, 2006 - 15:27:00 GMT
Mellon Bank Foreign Exchange -

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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• US retail sales top the billing today…
• US import prices, business inventories and the Uni. of Michigan confidence data are also due.
• SARB announces rate decision, probably on hold at 7%.
• Given the holiday weekend, traders could be looking to exit early.

Market Outlook

The EUR-USD held relatively steady in early London trading, with 1.2130 capping upticks intra-day and 1.2090 offering support here. Trading is relatively quiet, with traders eyeing the extended weekend in many countries. The better than expected US trade data (probably due to the sharp decline in oil prices in February and a 23% improvement in the deficit with China due to the Lunar New Year holidays) helped boost the USD on Wednesday, while the EC’s decision to cut growth forecasts didn’t help the EUR. Wednesday’s “outside day” leaves the EUR-USD back on a softer footing short term and a retreat through 1.21 would threaten a probe towards the 1.2035 April 3 spike low and potentially the 1.1980-1.1950 zone. Still leaning to EUR buyers stepping in on approaches to there, if reached. Wednesday’s 1.2170 high is key on the topside now. The federal budget deficit number, which expanded to $85.5bn, should be largely ignored given that around half of the widening was attributable to quirks in the calendar. Spending was higher than normal because the government made monthly social security payments on March 31 instead of April 1, a Saturday, and an extra Friday increased weekly tax refunds, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The NZD-USD did rebound back into the 0.6250 zone in early Asia trading, after February retail sales came in much stronger than expected. Taking this together with the January number still gives a reading of 1.1% for Q1. While this is just one month’s number it should lead to rate cut expectations being scaled back. That means that further NZD downside could be difficult in the short term. Risk is that the NZD turns above 0.6250-0.63 pointing to a steeper retracement to the 0.6450- 0.65 area. The 0.6185-0.6170 region should hold on intra-day pullbacks. The AUD-NZD cross sold off aggressively, falling from near 1.19 to below 1.17 overnight. Trendline support comes in at the latter but risk is that the pullback extends to 1.16-1565.

Day Ahead
US – retail sales, weekly initial claims, business inventories and the University of Michigan confidence reading are scheduled for today. Retail sales have been fairly volatile over the past couple of months, with sales ex-autos down 0.6% m/m in February, after a huge 2.7% rise in January. If the market consensus of +0.5% is undershot there will almost certainly be some disappointment, especially in the current circumstances where the market is on the lookout for possible reasons for a Fed pause. However, even a m/m decline in March ex-autos sales would not strictly suggest that the trend is weakening - conceivably it could be payback given the magnitude of January’s rise. The industrial/business related data should be fairly solid, but in terms of FOMC policy expectations the retail sales numbers will carry the greatest market moving potential.

South Africa – The SARB is widely expected to keep rates on hold at 7%. The central bank remains concerned about rapid credit growth and buoyant consumer demand but the strong ZAR should have done some tightening for them, certainly the manufacturing sector has been suffering. The currency is likely to hold up as long Gold prices remain strong (13% of the country’s exports).

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US Retail sales (Mar) m/m 08.30 +0.5%
US Retail sales ex-autos (Mar) m/m 08.30 +0.5%
US Import prices (Mar, nsa) y/y 08.30 +7.4% last
US Imp prices ex-petrol (Mar, nsa) y/y 08.30 +1.8% last
US Initial claims (w/e Apr 8) 08.30 304k
US Continuing claims (w/e Apr 1) 08.30 2440k last
ZA SARB rate announcement 7.0%
US Michigan sentiment (Apr, prel) 09.45 89.0
US Business inventories (Feb) m/m 10.00 +0.3%
US Business sales (Feb) m/m 10.00 +1.3%

Latest data Actual Consensus*
JP Domestic CGPI (Mar) y/y +2.7% +2.8%
NZ Retail trade (Feb) m/m +1.9% +0.3%
FR CPI (Mar, prel) y/y +1.7% +1.7%
* 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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