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Monday August 30, 2004 - 22:01:05 GMT -

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Dollar: DailyFX Forex Fundamentals 08-30-04

DailyFX Forex Fundamentals 08-30-04

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

· Dollar Softens As Consumers Spend More While Making Less
· Japanese Retail Sales Rebound After 4 Months of Declines
· British Pound Lingers Below 1.80 With London Markets Closed


With London closed for a banking holiday today, the euro gradually grinded higher against the dollar after having momentarily dipped below the psychologically important 1.20 level. Although many market participants expect a quiet week, with a good number of traders away enjoying the last week of summer or participating in the numerous events surrounding the Republic National Convention, we believe that the lack of market participants in the context of a very heavy economic calendar could cause unexpected volatility. There is a good number of important data scheduled for release from the US this week, the most anticipated of which, is of course the monthly non-farm payrolls report due on Friday. Beginning tomorrow, we should see some position setting ahead of payrolls. Italy released retail sales, CPI and PPI this morning. Retail sales, which tend to be a volatile dataset, rebounded after the drop in May. Consumer prices increased 0.2% in the month of August on the back of higher energy costs. Producer prices, which were for the month of July, grew at a slower than expected pace of 0.3%, up from 0.2% in the previous month. Tomorrow, we are expecting French employment data, and the CPI estimate for the entire Eurozone. Unemployment is expected to remain at its 4˝ year high of 9.9%, while consumer prices for the region are expected to increase at a faster pace in the month of August.


The dollar is currently at an important crossroad. As mentioned in our euro commentary, 1.20 and 1.1950 are critical levels for the single currency. This week brings information that is significant enough to determine if will see a sustained move higher in the dollar. Although last week we saw some positive, but mostly mixed data from the US, the dollar was able to gain ground as oil prices eased following a curtailment of the violence in Iraq. Today, we had personal income and spending data for the month of July. The data indicates that consumers are making less, but spending more. Personal income increased a less than expected 0.1% in the month of July, while spending increased a more than expected 0.8% in the same month. Both the PCE deflator and the core PCE, which are measures of inflation, were right in line with expectations. Tomorrow we are expecting the Chicago PMI report and consumer confidence. The PMI report is expected to reflect the same slowdown in the manufacturing sector that we saw in the Philly Fed survey released earlier this month. As for confidence, with companies adding less jobs and oil prices having increased to a high of $49.40 on August 20th, the headline number of the Conference Board’s survey of consumer optimism is expected to deteriorate.


The British pound is hanging below the important 1.80 level in incredibly quiet trading. London markets were closed today for what is officially known as the “Late Summer Holiday.” As we have previously warned, the central bank’s more gradual approach towards monetary policy has taken a significant toll on the pound. Last week, we saw home loans and other housing data confirm that the series of rate hikes imposed by the central bank is finally successful in letting some air out of the housing market bubble. This means that the move lower makes sense, but we do want to warn that the sell off has been significant and has occurred within a short period of time, which increases the likelihood of a recovery. There is a modest amount of data from the United Kingdom this week, none of which should cause a sharp move in the pound. Instead, cable traders will be looking to the US data for direction.


The Japanese yen ended the US trading session generally unchanged despite more encouraging economic data. Retail sales ended its losing streak, or in other words, fourth straight month of declines in July. Although one month does not make a trend, it is certainly encouraging that consumers may finally be increasing spending. Economists were worried that softer income growth would inhibit spending, which may eventual hurt the economic recovery. Their fears were not completely abated since sales at large-scale retailers decreased for the fifth consecutive month. In the next 24 hours, there will be more important Japanese economic data, which could break the pair out of its recent range. The most important of which is the preliminary industrial production report, which is expected to rebound after the -1.3% dip in the month of June.


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