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Monday August 16, 2004 - 21:52:40 GMT
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Empire State Manufacturing Survey Slips To 15 Month Low

Daily FX Fundamentals 08-16-04

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of www.dailyfx.com

·Empire State Manufacturing Survey Slips To 15 Month Low
·Treasury International Capital Flow Data Indicates Rebound In US Portfolio Inflows
·Yen Rallies As Oil Prices Recede On Chavez Victory

EURUSD

Today was an extremely quiet day in the Eurozone with no economic data scheduled for release. The weak US Empire State Manufacturing Survey and strong Treasury International Capital flow data essentially negated each other’s short-term impact on the EURUSD. Basically what this equaled to was a completely dull trading day. Tomorrow should be different. We are expecting Germany’s monthly ZEW survey of economic sentiment and industrial production. The ZEW survey increased unexpectedly in the month of July on strong demand for German exports, which rose 3.6% in May. However, the ZEW is expected to come in much softer this month as exports decreased 5.8% in the month of June and oil prices continue to hurt the profits of German corporations. Industrial production for the month of June in the Eurozone is also expected to erase the gains made in May given shortfalls in Germany and France. Although these releases are very important, the day’s main focus will be on the US consumer price inflation report and US industrial production report.

USDCHF

After Friday’s significantly weak trade deficit, the dollar found some relief from today’s Treasury International Capital Flow data. Portfolio flows rebounded to $72bln in the month of June after dipping to an upwardly revised $65bln in the previous month. A significant portion of this increase is still a result of rising accumulation by foreign central banks, particularly Japan, who is the world’s largest foreign holder of US Treasuries. Encouragingly, for the first time since February, private investors increased their holdings of US equities. Overall, despite the widening current account balance, if this trend sustains, we may not have to worry about a current account financing crisis quite yet. However, the stronger TIC data only managed to reverse the Empire State Manufacturing Index related losses. The market had expected manufacturing activity to slow, but not quite by the extent that we saw today. The index declined from a downwardly revised 35.75 in July to 12.57 in August. This is the lowest level in 14 months. Only 28% of respondents reported improving conditions in August, compared to 46% in July. Lower consumer spending has caused the new orders component to fall by more than 50%. Although the report indicates that companies are hiring now, the index for the hiring outlook six months from now declined to 9.7 from 36.3. The same fate should fall upon Thursday’s Philly Fed survey. The market expects the index to fall from 6.1 to 30.5. We would not be surprised to see a dip into the 20s and once again, we blame this all on oil. Once we see a respite in oil prices, consumers would feel more comfortable increasing spending, helping the recovery regain its momentum. The only question is, when will oil prices reverse, if ever?

GBPUSD

The British pound gave back some of the spectacular gains it made on Friday ahead of the RICS house price survey. The market expects the RICS survey to support the Bank of England’s argument that house prices have peaked and will continue to slow in the months ahead. Consumer spending, due out on Thursday is also expected to decline, adding to our case that after years of stellar growth, we are seeing the UK economy finally show signs of slowing. This is not say that the UK economy is going downhill from here, but stellar growth cannot last forever, nor can the Bank of England’s extremely aggressive tightening cycle. Wednesday’s release of the minutes from the August monetary policy meeting should provide further confirmation of our views.

USDJPY

The Japanese yen advanced against the dollar for the fourth consecutive trading day. The currency found some relief as oil prices receded following Venezuelan President Chavez’s referendum victory. The government held polls this weekend in an effort to prematurely end Chavez’s presidential term. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning echoing our sentiments – that the oil induced economic slowdown is spreading around the world. Japan was the most recent country to be hit, with GDP growth slipping to 1.7% yoy in Q2. If oil prices do not reverse, we will continue to enter a soft patch in the global recovery.

 

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