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Wednesday March 14, 2007 - 10:56:34 GMT
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Forex Research - Mellon FX Daily - U.S. Edition

Mellon FX Daily 06:30- EST

Key Points
• JPY up in Asia, steadier in Europe.
• Global equity markets will hold the key to FX movement today via ‘risk appetite’ implications.
• GBP continues to carry a risk premium of its own.
• UK average earnings weaker than expected.
• US current account data due today.

Market Outlook

The JPY strengthened further late in Asia, although trading has been fairly quiet in Europe this morning with most waiting to see how global markets develop after today’s US market open. JPY
fortunes will be clearly affected by what happens in global markets. Weakness in high-risk assets like equities and emerging markets will mean further upward pressure on low yielding currencies like the JPY and CHF, while the reverse will apply on any recovery in equities. Such an environment is clearly a recipe for JPY volatility and this looks set to continue for a few weeks yet. The key issue is whether the moves become protracted, for example, by breaking key levels and 115.16 (Mar 5 low) and 114.45 (Dec 2006 low) are significant for USD-JPY in this regard. A test of these levels looks likely if equity markets continue falling today, with the focus very much on what happens in the US.

The market doesn’t really know what to make of EUR-USD at the present time. With much of yesterday’s angst emanating from concerns about the sub-prime mortgage market in the US, there is the inevitable suspicion that EUR-USD should rise. However, there are two reasons why this should not necessarily be the case. First of all, the market is already long of EUR-USD according to IMM positioning and such positions could easily be liquidated in an environment where risk appetites in general are being reined in. Second, if money is taken out of markets globally, much of it will flow back in to the USD investor base and this will be USD supportive. On this reasoning, there is some degree of downside risk for EUR-USD.

Yesterday’s retail sales numbers out of the US were disappointing, but it would be wrong to rush into any conclusions about what this means for the consumer spending outlook. February was the coldest since 1979 and coming after a mild January, it is perhaps not surprising that the adjusted m/m change was depressed somewhat. Indeed, it is not all gloom and doom in the US. Last night’s reading for the weekly consumer sentiment number was the highest since Oct 2001.

GBP continues to be at the sharp end of any JPY movement and as noted yesterday, GBP will retain a risk premium in the eyes of most market participants because of this scope for volatility. UK average earnings data this morning was slightly weaker than expected and will help to contain MPC concerns about any medium-term inflation pressure. The latest earnings data was for January and will have picked up some of the new Jan-Apr wage round, so the fact that the ex-bonus (single month) y/y rate eased back to +3.5% from +3.6% is encouraging. UK rate expectations softened a little after the data, but the impact on GBP was limited with the market focussed on other matters. The big level on cable is at 1.9185.

Day Ahead
US – Q4 current account data is due and the market will initially be sensitive to any unusual headline numbers, although with the monthly trade deficit numbers having narrowed over the past six months or so, some of the sting has been taken out of the long-standing concerns about the US trade imbalance.

Data/event EDT Consensus*

US Mortgage apps – purchases w/w 07.00 +1.0% last
US Current account (Q4) 08.30 -$203.5bn
US Import prices (Feb, nsa) y/y 08.30 +1.4%
US Imp prices ex-petrol (Feb, nsa) y/y 08.30 +1.6% last
CA Capacity utilisation (Q4) 08.30 83.5%
AU Employment (Feb) 20.30 +15k
AU Unemployment rate (Feb) 20.30 4.5% last

Latest data Actual Consensus*
US ABC consumer conf (w/e Mar 11) +2 -1 last
AU Consumer sentiment (Mar) +3.7% +1.7% last
JP Ind prod (Jan, final) m/m -1.7% -1.5%
FR CPI (Feb, prel) y/y +1.0% +1.3%
GB Claimant count (Feb) -3.8k -8k
GB ILO unemp 3m ave (Jan) m/m -3k -23k last
GB LFS employm’nt 3m ave (Jan) m/m +18k +51k last
GB Average earnings (Jan) 3m y/y +4.2% +4.0%
GB Earnings ex-bonuses (Jan) 3m y/y +3.6% +3.8%
CH ZEW expectations (Mar) -28.0 -17.3 last
* Consensus unless stated
(ex-bonuses, 3m y/y)

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.


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