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Wednesday April 26, 2006 - 10:37:51 GMT
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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• EUR-USD still struggling to make headway – US data poses some questions.
• Upside favoured but not ahead of Bernanke.
• USD-JPY steadier – above 115.50 needed to rub out recent weakness.
• Australian CPI leaves next week’s RBA decision finely balanced.
• Norges Bank policy meeting, US durable orders, new home sales and RBNZ rate decision feature today.

Market Outlook

EUR-USD is still struggling to make headway on the upside, with yesterday’s stronger than expected US data also providing reason for caution. Such developments add some risk to the notion that the funds rate will be stopping at 5%, although this is still the most likely outcome. Subdued core inflation is a more important reason for this, as well as the moderation in some other measures of activity and the fact that many rate rises (and their effects) have now been stored up. Furthermore, it is not clear whether yesterday’s confidence data actually reflected any angst over the recent run-up in fuel prices – last night’s weekly measure of confidence did in fact fall to its lowest level since late February. However, it adds to the difficulties (i.e. positional constraints mentioned yesterday) facing EUR-USD ahead of tomorrow’s Bernanke speech and this will probably need to be seen before there is confidence in pursuing further upside (still favoured overall).

USD-JPY has managed to stabilise further, but 115.50 needs to be won back to suggest that recent moves have come to nothing.

A mixed bag of numbers in the Australian CPI report. Headline CPI moved up to +3.0% y/y, while the RBA’s measure of core inflation also edged up to +2.6% from +2.3% in Q4. However, total CPI excluding volatile items was only +2.2%, down from +2.3%, while market (private sector) prices ex-volatile items also fell back to +1.7% from +1.8%. The AUD slipped on the initial release, but then rallied when the RBA later released their own measure. The fact that the RBA measure showed strength will ensure that the report will be seen as generally hawkish, but it by no means guarantees a rate rise next week. The outcome of next week’s meeting is a very close call. Other economic releases of late have been showing strength and one such number (private sector credit) is out on Friday. The three month cumulative rise in credit is already standing at its highest since the beginning of 2004 and anything at 1.3% m/m or above this time would put it at its highest since 1990. The risk of a rate hike will keep the AUD supported, but whether it can breach current key resistance at 0.7480-0.7500 is less clear.

Day Ahead
Norway – the Norges Bank looks set to leave rates unchanged, but there is likely to be a reiteration of the ‘small, not too frequent steps’ approach to future tightening. They may also make the point that tightening could conceivably be faster if current core inflation was higher, given the strength now developing in other indicators (latterly the labour market).

US – durable orders should show solid growth, while there is some uncertainty over the new home sales release. Most other housing indicators have been softening, but yesterday’s existing home sales were surprisingly robust and new home sales were very weak last month, meaning that there is ‘statistical’ risk of a bounce today. The Beige Book will possibly be more important, especially the observations about pricing behaviour as well as economic activity in general.

New Zealand – the RBNZ are likely to leave rates unchanged and more important will be the nature of their references to the exchange rate. While the authorities have long been seeking a lower NZD, one gets the impression that the speed of the fall earlier this year was cause for some alarm in official circles. It will be interesting to see how the RBNZ refers to the issue as well as the prospect for future policy actions.

Data/event EDT Consensus*
NO Norges Bank policy outcome 08.00 2.5%
US Durable orders (Mar) m/m 08.30 +1.7%
US Durables ex-transport (Mar) m/m 08.30 +0.9%
US New home sales (Mar) 10.00 1110k
US Beige Book for May 10 FOMC 14.00
NZ RBNZ rate announcement 17.00 7.25%
NZ Trade balance (Mar) 18.45 -NZ$268mn
Latest data Actual Consensus*
US ABC consumer conf (w/e Apr 23) -11 -7 last
AU CPI (Q1) q/q +0.9% +0.8%
AU CPI (Q1) y/y +3.0% +2.9%
AU CPI mkt prices ex-volatile (Q1) y/y +1.7% +1.9%
AU CPI-RBA trimmed-mean (Q1) y/y +2.6% +2.4%
DE Consumer confidence (May) 5.5 5.1 last
SE Unemployment rate (Mar, nsa) 5.5% 5.3%
GB GDP (Q1, 1st est) q/q +0.6% +0.6%
EU Ind prod (Feb) m/m 0.0% +0.2%
EU Manu orders (Feb) m/m +2.7% +0.6%
* 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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