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Thursday December 14, 2006 - 12:08:32 GMT
Mellon Bank Foreign Exchange -

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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• Stronger US data could see further USD correction today and tomorrow.
• JPY will remain vulnerable unless Tankan shows strength.
• NZD firmly rejects initial gains after retail sales data.
• SNB CPI forecast hits the CHF.
• NOK helped by Norges Bank but this may not last.
• Tankan due this evening.

Market Outlook

Better news for the USD yesterday in the form of stronger than expected retail sales and another large gain in mortgage applications. Given the seasonal adjustment problems that can sometimes afflict sales in the Nov-Jan period, the market may reserve some judgement about what is happening in the consumer sector, although the rise in mortgage applications to their highest level since January will raise expectations that the housing market may be in the process of bottoming out. It is another piece of data that will cast doubt on the possibility of a rate cut in the months ahead.

With the market still positioned on the long side with regard to EUR-USD there is every chance of some further corrective activity today and tomorrow and this could see a retest of the 1.3130 low seen in Asia on Monday.

The JPY remains weak and a stronger than expected Tankan tonight will be needed to reverse current sentiment. If the USD does rally further today then 118.50-60 could be seen on USDJPY, but this should hold it ahead of tonight’s data.

The SNB raised rates by 25bp and said that further rate normalisation would follow in 2007 if conditions developed in line with their forecasts – even the sharply lower CPI forecast of +0.4% for 2007 (it was +1.1% previously). The initial statement made no mention of the exchange rate and in combination with the lower CPI forecast this weighed on the CHF. At the press conference Roth noted that the CHF’s real effective exchange rate was the same today as it was in 2000, although he later said that they would monitor the CHF closely and that recent weakness contradicted the good economic situation in Switzerland. He also played down the notion that ‘carry trades’ were the main reason for CHF weakness. There is some upside risk on EUR-CHF and this would build on any move above the 1.6015 high from November. A move back below 1.5925 is needed to nullify these risks.

The 0.3% m/m gain in NZ retail sales may look modest, but this was a fairly impressive outcome after the 1.1% advance recorded in the previous month. The data will maintain fears about a Jan 24 RBNZ rate hike. The news boosted the NZD, although fortunes turned around dramatically mid-way through the European morning. So much so in fact that the NZD is now in danger of recording an outside reversal day unless there is sizeable bounce later on. The prospect of 0.700 was perhaps just too much, especially with Q3 current account data (typically a NZD negative) to come next week.

The NOK was boosted by comments from Norges Bank governor Gjedrem. He said that interest rates remained low and that they could move considerably higher from current levels. An hour before these comments were made EUR-NOK had jumped back above 8.17 and was looking to threaten the upside. It fell abruptly on the comments and moved as low as 8.1295. However, there is a danger that the prior inclination to take EUR-NOK higher may re-emerge today or tomorrow. It is not clear that Gjedrem really meant to say anything new. Money market rates did rise around 5-6bp for a time this morning but are now almost back to where they were previously. A close below 8.14 would suggest that such dangers have been averted for now.

UK retail sales were slightly stronger than expected, although the market will watch and wait for a better indication of what is happening to consumer spending. CBI and BRC retail surveys were weak for November, but recent anecdotal evidence suggests a turn for the better over the past couple of weeks. The CBI manufacturing survey released this morning showed a further improvement in orders and output, although price expectations fell back to +8 from the 21-mth high of +19 seen last month. This will help to ease some of the concerns about a New Year uplift in producer output prices. EUR-GBP is currently pressing support at 0.6715, but downside should be fairly limited.

Day Ahead
Japan – the Tankan is due tonight and this will be significant for BoJ policy, especially the balances expected for the coming quarter as this will be a good sign of overall confidence. Capex plans will also be watched given the BoJ’s ongoing claims that low interest rates risk engendering over-inflated investment expenditure and excess capacity. The tertiary activity index is also due and the market expects a rebound after last month’s 1.3% m/m decline.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US Import prices (Nov, nsa) y/y 08.30 -0.2% last
US Imp prices ex-petrol (Nov, nsa) y/y 08.30 +0.5% last
US Initial claims (w/e Dec 9) 08.30 320k
US Continuing claims (w/e Dec 2) 08.30 2524k last
CA Manu shipments (Oct) m/m 08.30 -0.5%
NZ Manu sales (Q3) q/q 16.45 +4.9% last
JP Tankan – large manu (Q4) 18.50 +25
JP Tankan – large manu (Q1) 18.50 +23
JP Tankan – large non-manu (Q4) 18.50 +20
JP Tankan – large non-manu (Q1) 18.50 +21
JP Tankan capex (Q4) y/y 18.50 +12.1%
JP Tertiary index (Oct) m/m 18.50 +1.3%

Latest data Actual Consensus*
NZ Retail sales (Oct) m/m +0.3% +0.1%
CH SNB policy decision +25bp +25bp
SE Unemployment rate (Nov, sa) 4.3% 4.4%
GB Retail sales (Nov) m/m +0.3% 0.0%
EU Labour costs (Q3) y/y +2.0% +2.6%
EU Employment (Q3) q/q +0.4% +0.4% last
GB CBI orders balance (Dec) -5 -6 last
GB CBI price expectations bal (Dec) +8 +19 last
NZ PMI manu (Nov) 55.4 56.4 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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