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Thursday August 5, 2004 - 20:45:55 GMT -

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Dollar Sinks As Oil Prices Continue To Rise As Yukos’ Troubles Worsen

DailyFX Forex Fundamentals Report 08-05-04

·Mixed US Labor Market Data Confuses Market Ahead on Non-Farm Payrolls
·Bank of England Raises Rates to 4.75%
·Oil Prices Continue To Rise As Yukos’ Troubles Worsen
·Canadian IVEY PMI Disappoints – 51.0 vs 64.0


The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged today at 2%. Given the absence of a press conference scheduled following their announcement, the decision came as no surprise. German factory orders reported this morning were exceptionally weak. A fall in foreign demand has caused orders to decrease by a more than expected 3.5%, which is also the first drop in 3 months. The euro did not budge on the weak European data, as the market is treading carefully ahead of tomorrow’s non-farm payrolls report. Although consensus estimates have dropped from 250k (reported last Friday) to 240k as of Thursday afternoon, recent labor market indicators suggests that non-farm payrolls will have difficulty achieving such a lofty target. In the special non-farm payrolls report that we released this past Tuesday, we questioned whether economists will once again be drastically off. Since March, economists have been calling for a gradual rise in payrolls, but instead payrolls have been on a gradual downward trend since then. Not only have the employment components of both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing ISM and the Chicago PMI reports reflected a slowdown in hiring, the national help wanted index for the month of June fell from 39 to 38. Today, the Worldwide index of online job advertisements decreased 2 points to 134 in July. Monster has said that this possibly represents a “seasonal slowdown in recruitment.” The only encouraging information is that jobless claims fell 11k to 336k in the week ending July 31. The market is holding its breath in anticipation of the report, slowly accumulating long euro positions.


Whether they are doing this intentionally or not, the actions of the Russian government have once again rattled the oil markets. Yesterday, oil prices found some respite when the government informed Yukos that they could use cash in their accounts to pay suppliers. Today, they recalled those orders and instead froze Yukos’ bank accounts. The fear that Yukos may be forced to halt all oil exports because of a lack of funds to pay for delivery costs has sent oil prices soaring to record highs in NY. Tight supply is already a big concern in the oil markets and today’s report only further escalates that concern. As one of the world’s largest net oil importers, skyrocketing oil prices will have a particularly damaging effect on the economic recovery in the US by effectively threatening to stall growth. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has already warned that rising oil and gas prices could have a significant impact on the long-term development of the US economy. Companies worldwide are becoming increasingly worried about the surging price of oil, particularly large oil consumers such as airliners and commodity chemical companies. The effects of oil prices are also becoming more widespread. It is unlikely that it is just a matter of coincidence that auto sales have declined so extensively causing inventories at the General Motors and Ford to swell at the same time that oil prices have been making record highs.


As expected, the Bank of England raised rates for the fourth time this year by 25bp to 4.75%. According to the Monetary Policy Committee, another rate hike was needed because business surveys suggest continued expansion. However, although growth will probably continue above trend in the UK, like the rest of us, the MPC sees signs of slower growth in both consumption and house prices. Industrial production unexpectedly fell 0.3% in the month of June, while manufacturing production decreased 0.7%. Following Monday’s strong manufacturing sector PMI survey, the market had expected industrial production to increase once again. The mixed result only further confuses the market with regards to the BoE’s tightening bias going forward. Another 25bp is priced in for September, but should manufacturing and service sector data continue to disappoint, expectations for a September tightening could fall.


The Japanese yen continues to sell off amidst rallying oil prices. Although the US and Japan are both net oil importers, the Japanese yen suffers more from higher oil prices as a result of the country’s lack of alternative energy sources. Leading indicators released overnight suggests that the current pace of growth should continue if not strengthen. Portfolio flow data released for the week ending July 30th indicate a net inflow into yen denominated assets. This is primarily as a result of Japanese investors selling foreign bonds. Tomorrow, Japan is releasing their household spending report – private consumption data has been mixed. Household spending could be weak given a sharp drop in auto registrations in the second quarter.


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