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Wednesday November 15, 2006 - 12:55:10 GMT
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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• USD shrugs off weaker data – strengthens further in Europe. More data to come.
• French EUR comments may make the market a little edgy ahead of G20 this weekend.
• EUR-JPY could be contained by this.
• NZD buffeted by RBNZ comments and strong data.
• UK news sees weaker GBP.
• NY Fed survey features today.

Market Outlook

The USD showed a fair amount of resilience yesterday in the face of weaker than expected US data. The PPI number looked a little odd and continues to be largely driven by sharp m/m swings in the prices of both passenger cars and light-trucks, but retail sales was disappointing. The best core sales measure to look at in the current circumstances of falling fuel prices is sales excluding both autos and spending at gas stations and this was +0.3% m/m in October. However, previous data was revised down – Sep to +0.3% from +0.8% and Aug to +0.2% from +0.4%.

The remaining profile is not that bad but it is clearly weaker than it was previously. Also, business sales (released with the inventories data) fell 2% m/m, the first fall since February and the largest m/m fall since January 1996. However, It was not all bad news yesterday, with the ABC weekly consumer sentiment index rising to its joint-highest level since 2002. Attention will now turn to today’s NY Fed index, which has been something of a (strong) outlier over the past couple of months (see below). FOMC minutes are also due today, while CPI and the Philly Fed are out tomorrow. EUR-USD will retain downside risk while below 1.2800.

The aggressive comments made by French PM Villepin yesterday about the need for the Eurozone to adopt an FX policy that promoted growth could easily be dismissed as normal ranting. However, they may help to contain the EUR going into the G20 meeting of finmins and CB governors scheduled for this weekend. At such a get-together there is a risk of some cautionary comments about EUR-JPY, as there were at the last G8 meeting in mid-September.

The JPY is still treading water after yesterday’s stronger than expected GDP data. EUR-JPY is the one to watch. A close outside the 150.75-151.50 area will most probably define the short-term trading bias. The market will be looking for more hints on policy at tonight’s BoJ rate announcement, although as noted above there may be some apprehension ahead of the G20 meeting.

GBP has weakened this morning, with labour market data and the BoE quarterly Inflation Report both failing to boost already high rate expectations. Average earnings data came in weaker than expected, with the private sector wage growth rate falling to its lowest point since January 2004 (see chart). The Inflation Report forecast CPI at just below target in 2-years time on the assumption that official rates follow market expectations. CPI is forecast just above target in 2-years if the assumption is changed to one of constant interest rates. This provides tacit support to the possibility of another rate hike in the months ahead, although today’s developments are consistent with those seen over the past couple of weeks i.e. a news flow that has been challenging to the high rate expectations already in the market. GBP will retain some independent vulnerability while EUR-GBP remains above 0.6770.

The NZD has had a choppy overnight session, falling initially in response to a comment from the RBNZ that the currency was high compared to fundamentals, then rallying in response to much stronger than expected retail sales data (+1.2% m/m). Meanwhile, S&P said it was maintaining a stable outlook on NZ ratings but that the current account deficit remained a risk factor. The sales number is just one month’s worth of data but it brings back into view the risk of a rate hike in Q1. Key now will be a) whether this sales strength is sustained and b) what Q4 CPI reveals when released in mid-January. The data should provide some protection to the NZD – although USD strength this morning is currently putting support at 0.6575-80 to the test - 0.6500-20 is next support.

Day Ahead
US – the NY Fed manufacturing survey is released today and this and the Philly Fed equivalent have diverged in recent months. The Philly Fed has dipped slightly into negative territory over the past two months (-0.7 and -0.4), while the NY Fed index last month recorded its third highest reading of the year (22.9). Indeed, the NY Fed has been something of an outlier as it has also failed to match the weakness in manufacturing ISM. FOMC minutes are also due although the various members have made their sentiments fairly clear anyway in recent weeks.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US NY Fed index (Nov) 08.30 +15
CA Manu shipments (Sep) m/m 08.30 -1.0%
US Minutes of Oct 24-25 FOMC 14.00
GB RICS house price balance (Oct) 19.30 +45%
AU AWOTE wages (Q3) q/q 19.30 +0.6% last
JP BoJ rate announcement unch

Latest data Actual Consensus*
NZ Retail sales (Sep) m/m +1.2% -0.1%
US ABC consumer conf (w/e Nov 12) +1 -3 last
AU Consumer sentiment (Nov) -9.7% +3.9% last
JP Tertiary index (Sep) m/m -1.3% -0.6%
AU Wage cost index (Q3) q/q +0.8% +1.1%
AU House prices (Q3) q/q +2.2% +1.0%
CN Ind prod (Oct) y/y +14.7% +16%
NO Trade balance (Sep) NOK26.8bn NOK27bn
GB Claimant count (Sep) +1.2k +5k
GB ILO unemp 3m ave (Sep) m/m +27k unch last
GB LFS employm’t 3m ave (Sep) m/m +56k +51k last
GB Average earnings (Aug) 3m y/y +3.9% +4.0%
GB Earnings ex-bonuses (Aug) 3m y/y +3.5% +3.6%
EU Ind prod (Sep) m/m -1.0% -0.3%
* 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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