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FXCM - German ZEW Survey May Not be That Bad

DailyFX Fundamentals 06-12-06

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of www.dailyfx.com

• Bernanke's Credibility is Put to Test With Retail Sales and PPI
• German ZEW Survey May Not be That Bad
• Yen Slides After Surprising Dip in Consumer Confidence

US Dollar
The foreign exchange market has been extremely quiet today with most currency pairs aside from the Canadian dollar calmly consolidating. The next few days will be very busy as traders prepare themselves for a long list of key economic data scheduled for release from all of the major countries around the world as well as a number of Fed speeches. Bernanke’s credibility has really come to question over the past few days and will be tested even more so this week. Financial editors of the press have had a blast touting his keen ability to confuse the markets which comes in clear contrast to the transparency, clarity and simplicity that he initially promised when he became Federal Reserve Chairman. He is slated to speak this evening and then once again in the morning and in all likelihood, he will stick to the script on Bank Supervision because he knows that if he fails to affirm his newly hawkish stance, all credibility would probably be lost. Given earlier signs of slower growth, this week’s data, starting with tomorrow’s retail sales report could potentially surprise to the downside. If retail sales do come out extremely weak, the market will wonder whether Bernanke is playing with fire, risking a global slowdown to combat inflation. Of the other Fed officials that spoke today, they either refrained from mentioning monetary policy or simply repeated their concerns with inflation. Whether inflation is really prevalent will also be proved this week as we first see the producer price index tomorrow morning and then the consumer price index on Wednesday. These will be watched even more closely than they usually are because if neither confirms the strong inflation concerns of the Fed, Bernanke’s credibility will be in question once again, which would be negative for the US dollar. The only piece of economic data that was released today was the US’ monthly budget statement, which reported a larger deficit of -$42.8 billion compared to a -$35.4 billion forecast. Structural problems have been plaguing the US economy for years and based upon the latest figures, it is far from being resolved. Meanwhile the hurricane season begins with warnings that the season’s first Tropical Storm Alberto could be named a hurricane. With oil prices still hovering above $70 a barrel, if any hurricanes this summer hit the US oil and gas heartland along the Gulf Coast, we could easily see another record high in crude, which could pose another risk to the sustainability of consumer spending. If the US consumer goes, so does the US dollar. However as long as the US consumer holds on, the Fed will be able to as well, which would validate and exacerbate the greenback’s recent climb – so keep an eye on weather patterns as well as retail sales.

Euro
The Euro has now seen its longest stretch of weakness against the US dollar since November. Of the little economic data released this morning, neither was particularly market moving. German wholesale prices increased a more than expected 0.7 percent in the month of May while Italian industrial production fell by a more than expected 1.0 percent. The real market movers will start to be released tomorrow beginning with the German consumer price index and the ZEW survey of economic sentiment. Although the strong value of the Euro throughout the month of May and into early June poses a big risk to how analysts perceive the future health of the German and Eurozone economies, it is important to note that the survey was closed today, indicating that many analysts could have made revisions to their forecast while some could have waited to submit it until the last minute, which would have given them the opportunity to account for the deep 400 pip slide that we have recently seen in the Euro. If this is the case, then the ZEW survey could actually not be as bad as the market’s current predictions. Ultimately however, the ECB raised interest rates last week and is at no urgency to do so again which means that the primary focus and catalyst for market volatility will be the Federal Reserve and US data, at least for the next two or three weeks.

British Pound
After five consecutive trading sessions of weakness against the US dollar, the British pound has finally seen a green day, albeit a mild one as the currency rallies against both the dollar and the Euro. A lot of the British pound’s pessimism against the Euro was built up in anticipation of a strongly aggressive European Central bank, to the degree that it would come in stark contrast to the Bank of England’s solidly neutral stance. However, the ECB was not as hawkish as the market had hoped last week, which forced Euro bulls to reconsider their positioning. Producer prices came out weaker than expected in the month of May, with import prices falling by 0.5 percent while output prices rose by 0.3 percent. Even though producers are passing on more costs, inflation is not an immediate concern for the central bank. Instead, the pound is taking a bit of comfort in the fact that house prices accelerated by a faster pace in the month of April according to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Although encouraging, it has little impact on changing the minds of the country’s policy makers.

Japanese Yen
The Japanese Yen is weaker against most of the majors today as consumer confidence took a surprisingly tumble from 50.2 to 49.9 in the month of May. Even though this is slightly below the 50 pessimism / optimism mark, the index still remains near a 15 year high. Other data was more encouraging with first quarter GDP revised to the upside from an annualized pace of 1.9 percent to a whopping 3.1 percent. Corporate goods prices were also stronger, rising by 3.3 percent, compared to a forecast of 2.8 percent. With economic growth solid and inflation increasing, the landscape continues to provide a more conducive environment for an interest rate hike. However any positive news will do little than give the Yen a short term boost since the Bank of Japan is in no rush to raise interest rates. The central bank’s monetary policy decision is June 15th, although Governor Fukui’s comments will receive some attention, the actual interest rate decision will probably not.

 

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