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Thursday November 16, 2006 - 11:38:51 GMT
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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• Is the BoJ backing off a little on policy intentions?
• Overall JPY vulnerability remains in place, but the weekend’s G20 meeting may support it today and tomorrow.
• China says it has bought JPY, but not clear whether this is new.
• EUR-USD has downside bias, although US data releases today will be significant.
• UK retail sales provide some minor relief for GBP.
• CPI, Philly Fed, NAHB housing and TIC portfolio data feature today.

Market Outlook

The BoJ left rates unchanged and the monthly report also advanced an unchanged assessment of economic prospects – economy set to expand moderately, consumption in a rising trend and CPI likely to stay in a positive trend. However, BoJ governor Fukui did say some interesting things later on. First of all, when saying that there was no set timetable for rate rises, he did state that the BoJ were watching various data measures at home and abroad including US consumer spending over the Christmas period. He added that BoJ policy would not be directly linked to US retail sales in December, but if they are looking at this information then a rate hike in December seems highly unlikely as news about such spending will not appear until mid-January. Second, he said that the BoJ would act ‘flexibly’ on future rate hikes based on the economy and prices. The word ‘flexibly’ seems to be new and could be a nod in the direction of those (i.e. various government officials) who are becoming increasingly nervous about the economy. Overall, the BoJ may just be backing off a little and this is negative for the JPY.

An offsetting factor for the JPY overnight has been China’s revelation that they have been buying JPY, although the Chinese CB official (deputy governor Wu Xiaoling) said that they had always held JPY in their reserves and refused to say whether they had increased the pace of buying recently. Overall, the JPY remains on fragile ground, but we would repeat the comment of yesterday that there might be some apprehension about aggressively selling JPY any further this week with the weekend’s G20 meeting still to come. There may be some references to EUR-JPY, as there were at the September G7 meeting. The price action remains critical, especially on EUR-JPY. A close outside the 150.75-151.50 range will have a significant bearing on short-term direction.

FOMC minutes reiterated the Fed’s overriding concerns about getting inflation under control and that they would continue to view the data to see whether any additional firming was needed. This may come across as a little hawkish, although it is only a reminder of views already advanced. US data (see below for preview) will again carry some significance for the USD today, although the overall bias is for a slightly softer EUR-USD.

UK retail sales were stronger than expected and this provided some welcome relief for GBP, which has been hit by generally poor news this week. However, the data is not enough to reinvigorate rate hike expectations and EUR-GBP will retain upside risk while it stays above 0.6770.

Day Ahead
US – CPI, Philly Fed survey, NAHB housing index and TIC portfolio data appear today. Core CPI has been +0.2% in each of the past three months after four successive showings of +0.3%. One of the key factors behind this development has been the softer profile in the owners’ equivalent rent category. Some +0.1% m/m outcomes are needed on core CPI (and core PCE prices) before the markets and the FOMC become more comfortable about inflation risk. The Philly Fed survey has been weak over the past couple of months and the market will be keen to see whether this has been sustained, especially after yesterday’s strong NY Fed survey. The NAHB index rose last month for the first time in a year, but only off 15-½ year lows. The TIC portfolio data could have implications for the USD if well away from the consensus, although this number has been volatile over the past couple of months, with the small net inflow of $32.9bn seen in July being followed by August’s large $116.8bn. Last month was helped by US investors selling foreign equities, although after all the recent talk of reserve diversification the market may focus on the official flows recorded in the data.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US CPI (Oct) m/m 08.30 -0.3%
US CPI core (Oct) m/m 08.30 +0.2%
US Initial claims (w/e Nov 11) 08.30 311k
US Continuing claims (w/e Nov 4) 08.30 2448k last
CA Net portfolio balance (Sep) 08.30 -C$11.9bn last
US TIC intl portfolio balance (Sep) 09.00 +$67.0bn
US Fed’s Kroszner on intl bond mkt 09.10
US Ind prod (Oct) m/m 09.15 +0.3%
US Capacity utilisation (Oct) 09.15 82.0%
US Fed’s Poole spks 09.45
US Fed’s Moskow speaks on econ 10.00
US Philly Fed index (Nov) 12.00 +5.0
US NAHB housing index (Nov) 13.00 30
AU RBA’s Debelle spks 17.00

Latest data Actual Consensus*
GB RICS house price balance (Oct) +48% +45%
AU AWOTE wages (Q3) q/q +0.7% +0.6% last
JP BoJ rate announcement unch unch
SE Unemployment rate (Oct, nsa) 4.6% 4.8%
GB Retail sales (Oct) m/m +0.9% +0.3%
EU CPI (Oct) y/y +1.6% +1.6%
EU CPI ex-energy/fresh food (Oct) y/y +1.6% +1.5%
NZ PMI manu (Oct) 56.4 50.5 last
* 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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