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Forex - US Dollar Slips to 2 Year Low Against Euro ahead of Payrolls

DailyFX Fundamentals 04-05-07

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

• US Dollar Slips to 2 Year Low Against Euro ahead of Payrolls
• British Pound Sells off After Bank of England Leaves Rates Unchanged
• Strong Canadian Employment and Manufacturing Data Sends Loonie Soaring

US Dollar – Liquidation of long dollar positions ahead of the holiday weekend has pushed the greenback to fresh 2 year lows against the Euro. There have been some rumors that tomorrow’s non-farm payrolls release may not be as hot as the market is expecting, but there hasn’t been data to confirm that. The CME payroll derivatives auction settled at 121.6k this morning, which indicates that traders are less optimistic about job growth than economists. However 121k is still good, especially since reported that their employment index rose from 185k to 177k, which is reflective of strong job growth. To read our full NFP Preview, please go directly to DailyFX. US, UK, French, German and Swiss markets are all closed for Good Friday tomorrow. This means that volume will be particularly low, which could lead to abnormal volatility. The current median forecast for payrolls is 133k, but according to the poll by Bloomberg News, the estimates range from 70k to 240k. Equally reputable names are calling for vastly different results. BNP Paribas expects job growth to be very weak (they have the 70k estimate) while Citigroup expects it to be very strong (hence the 240k). There are number of reasons to believe that job growth will be strong. The 4 week moving average of jobless claims in March was 315k, down from 335k in February. The last time the 4 week moving average of jobless claims were this lean was back in December 2006 and January 2007, when US companies added 226k and 146k jobs to their payrolls respectively. Payroll agency ADP has reported stronger job growth while Challenger Gray and Christmas reported a sharp drop in layoffs. Temperate weather should also bring back construction sector jobs. The only problem that the generally optimistic forecast faces is the possibility that less layoffs does not translate into more hiring. Corporate profits have hit a peak, which would give businesses reason to wait for more economic stability or signs of growth before expanding operations. In addition to the headline number, we have come intimately familiar with the need to watch for revisions because revisions have become the name of the game. Back in February, the dollar rallied not because the headline number was stronger than the market’s forecast by 3k, but because January payrolls were revised up by 35k. The same thing happened when January payrolls were released. The headline number actually fell short of expectations by 39k, but any dollar bearishness was offset by the same 39k upward revision to December payrolls.

Euro – The Euro has broken out of its inverse head and shoulder pattern to hit a new 2 year high against the US dollar. In doing so, it has taken EUR/JPY to 30 pips shy of its highest level since the inception of the Euro. Economic data continues to be firm with German industrial production jumping in the month of February. The market was looking for manufacturing activity to drop by 0.5 percent, but instead, it accelerated by 0.9 percent. This gives the European Central Bank justification to raise rates again as early as May. However, the sharp rise in the Euro over the past few months may force the ECB to reconsider raising rates beyond that. A rising Euro automatically tightens the economy and reduces inflationary pressures. As we get closer to the EUR/USD’s 1.3667 all time high, the more strain the strong currency will put on the export dependent economy. Remember our saying; the path to a stronger Euro is through a weaker one. Along those same lines, the path to a weaker Euro is through stronger one. As for EUR/CHF, even though the rally is looking tired, the currency pair still managed to hit a fresh 7 year high.

British Pound – The British pound tanked against the both the Euro and US dollar. As we expected, the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged at 5.25 percent. The market however believed that the rate decision was more of a coin toss. When the central bank makes no alterations to monetary policy, they also do not issue a statement. We will have to wait until April 18th, when the minutes from the meeting are released to get a better sense of the central bank’s current bias. Traders were also extremely disappointed by the surprise drop in industrial production. Having originally expected industrial activity to accelerate by 0.2 percent, it instead dropped by 0.6 percent. Manufacturing production fell by 0.6 percent compared to 0.3 percent expected. After a week of mostly positive data, any sign of weakness has caught the market by surprise. In fact, traders completely shrugged off the stronger report on house prices even though it remains one of the central bank’s primary focuses. The divergence in the performance of the manufacturing sector of the Eurozone and the UK as well as their monetary policies has helped to trigger a significant rally in EUR/GBP.

Japanese Yen – With no meaningful economic data released, the Japanese Yen quietly lost ground against all of the major currencies. The recent rally in the stock markets has increased the risk appetite of global investors. In doing so, it has also reinitiated demand for short yen positions. Today, the Bank of Japan announced that they are adding two new members to their policy board as the terms of Fukuma and Haru expire. Not much is known about the new members, but traders should become familiar with the names Kamezaki and Nakamura, since their comments could not move markets.

Commodity Dollars (AUD, NZD, CAD) – Led by the Canadian dollar, the Commodity currencies performed very strongly today. Canadian employment increased by 55k in the month of March, which was over 3 times larger than analyst expectations. This pushed the employment/population ratio to 63.5 percent, which is the highest in over 30 years. Manufacturing sector activity also accelerated with the IVEY PMI increasing from 60.5 to 67.3. These reports indicate that the Canadian economy is doing very well and in response, the Canadian dollar has skyrocketed. The Australian dollar also hit a fresh 10 year high thanks to the 1.1 percent rise in Australia’s cash card retail index during the month of March. Meanwhile the New Zealand dollar tracked the Aussie higher to mark its own new 2.5 year high.


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