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Friday January 12, 2007 - 11:31:20 GMT
Mellon Bank Foreign Exchange -

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Forex: Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Key Points
• GBP remains firm after surprise MPC rate hike – focus is now on next week’s CPI.
• EUR-USD retains downside bias but today’s US retail sales data could be significant.
• Trichet’s comments merely clarified the timing of the Q1 rate hike rather than influencing rate expectations overall.

Market Outlook

GBP is continuing to benefit from yesterday’s surprise MPC rate hike, with EUR-GBP falling as low as 0.6619 in Europe. The surprise was reflected in the reaction of the money market, which rather than viewing the hike as merely supplanting what was expected for February has moved to discount another 25bp adjustment by the end of Q1. However, this is by no means a done deal and such an expectation will need to be supported by strong data in coming weeks, especially if the MPC minutes reveal a split decision.

While the timing of yesterday’s move was surprising, one can understand the broad thinking on the need for tighter policy. The MPC is currently of the mind that with economic activity being fairly robust it is free to concentrate on taking no chances with CPI. The 60-plus PMI services number was significant in this regard, while the overall evidence on the consumer sector suggests no disaster in December. Earlier this week the IDS said that pay settlements had risen over the past month. However, it was the revelation yesterday that the MPC had been privy to next week’s CPI number that has got the market thinking. After the 2.7% CPI number in December, is there a risk of a 3% plus number that will require an open letter of explanation to the Treasury? Speculation about such a possibility will remain in place ahead of Tuesday’s data. If CPI does turn out to be strong, there may also be a debate about the principle of acting upon data that is not currently in the public domain. EUR-GBP support is at 0.6608 (low from June 2005).

Yesterday’s ECB meeting and press conference failed to come up with anything to offset current liquidation pressure on EURUSD and such a bias will remain in place in the short-term unless there is some offsetting news out of the US. Today’s US retail sales data will be significant in this regard. Current support is at 1.2865, although this could also give way if today’s data is not weaker than expected. The impact of Trichet’s comments on the money market were fairly limited, with the June Euribor merely moving back to what it was discounting at the beginning of this week. The significance of yesterday’s meeting was Trichet signalling that the next hike will be in March rather than February.

Day Ahead
US – retail sales and business inventories/sales reports are due today. Sales will be watched closely after the unusually strong numbers seen in November. These came as a big surprise to the market and given the m/m volatility that can be seen during the Nov-Jan period, there is a risk of either a big downward revision to the November data or a pullback in December, although this is not expected by the consensus. Indeed, if the current market consensus is achieved this would be a very strong showing by the retail sector. Also keep an eye on business sales, which have weakened over the past couple of months – a development that has been consistent with other data on the sector.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US Retail sales (Dec) m/m 08.30 +0.6%
US Retail sales ex-autos (Dec) m/m 08.30 +0.5%
US Retail sales x-autos/gas (Dec) m/m 08.30 +0.9% last
US Import prices (Dec, nsa) y/y 08.30 +1.2% last
US Imp prices ex-petrol (Dec, nsa) y/y 08.30 +1.3% last
US Business inventories (Nov) m/m 10.00 +0.4%
US Business sales (Nov) m/m 10.00 -0.2% last
US Federal budget (Dec) 14.00 $21.7bn

Latest data Actual Consensus*
NZ Building permits (Nov) m/m -12.0% -3.6%R last
JP M2 plus CDs (Dec) y/y +0.8% +0.8%
JP Bank lending (Dec) y/y +1.7% +1.2%
GB NIESR GDP (3mths to Dec) q/q +0.7% +0.6% last
JP Economy watchers survey (Dec) 48.9 48.9 last
FR CPI (Dec, prel) y/y +1.5% +1.5%
* 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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