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Tuesday September 14, 2004 - 21:38:43 GMT -

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DailyFX Forex Fundamentals 09-14-04

DailyFX Forex Fundamentals 09-14-04

·Dollar Slides On Wider Current Account Balance and Weaker Retail Sales
·Euro Gains Capped As German ZEW Survey Slips To 15 Month Lows
·Consumer Prices Slow In The UK


Just looking at the daily chart of the euro, one could readily assume that nothing important happened today as the pair ended generally unchanged against the dollar with a trading range of approximately 70 pips - but do not be so easily fooled. Today, we learned that the US current account deficit widened to a record $166.2 Billion while retail sales fell by a more than expected –0.3% (more on the US data in the dollar commentary). However, as we have warned, although today’s data is important, there was only a minute likelihood that the data would be significant enough to push the euro towards the top of its recent range. Instead, the weak German ZEW survey of business sentiment kept the lid on euro gains. According to the report, investor confidence in Germany fell to the lowest level in 15 months with sentiment declining since July. The index came in at 38.4, far below the market’s expectation for a marginal decline to 45 from 45.3. It makes us wonder how investors could remain optimistic with oil costs surging, unemployment rising, stocks falling and the general slowdown in the global recovery. As an export-led economy, Germany has suffered greatly from the pullback in US demand.


The economic data released from the US today was very negative for the US dollar. The current account balance widened to a record $166.2 billion in the second quarter. The gap widened from 5.1% to 5.7% of GDP. Imports surged 21.1% compared to exports, which rose 11.1%. Based upon the current deficit, the US needs to attract approximately $1.8 billion a day of foreign inflow to keep the dollar steady at current levels. Foreign official holdings of central banks also slowed their accumulation of US assets to an inflow of $73.9 billion from $127.9 billion in Q1. Thursday’s Treasury International Capital flow data, which tracks international non-official holdings of US Treasuries will provide us with more insight into whether the US has been able to attract enough investors to fund the deficit. In the month of June, $2.85 billion dollars flowed into the market per day. If this pace is sustained, then the deficit is a back burner concern for the time being. Meanwhile US retail sales fell 0.3% in the month of August, driven entirely by a fall in autos and parts. Less autos, retail sales increased 0.2%, which means that overall consumers are still spending. Meanwhile, the Manpower Employment Outlook survey for the fourth quarter reports that a net 21% of employers surveyed expect to increase hiring, compared to 24% in the third quarter, which is slightly concerning for the labor market. According to a Merrill Lynch survey of fund managers, all these conflicting factors have prompted 46% of managers surveyed to say that they would prefer to issue cash returns to shareholders than to look for new investments.


The British Pound ended the day generally unchanged despite evidence of slowing inflation. The annualized rate of consumer price inflation fell from 1.4% to 1.3% as prices of clothing and shoes declined in the month of August. This is another check mark in the list of reasons for the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England to stop raising rates. Of course, the lack of significant movements in the pound today indicates that the market has fully priced in the slower tightening cycle and we have mentioned it enough here that it should catch no one by surprise. The short sterling futures are still pricing one final quarter point hike this year. Meanwhile, tomorrow we are expecting unemployment data from the UK. The labor market has been tight and the data should reflect that fact.


There was lifeless trading in the Japanese yen as the currency pair remains trapped in a relatively tight trading range. All releases from Japan last night were essentially in line with expectations. Industrial production for the month of July was confirmed to be flat and if you recall, the unchanged number was quite a disappointment. Capacity utilization increased marginally while the number of bankruptcies declined. The minutes from the BoJ Monetary Policy meeting reports that their views are basically unchanged from the previous meeting, which reveals nothing new. Therefore with the lack of any Japanese data over the next 24 hours, it will primarily be US data that will dictate the direction of USDJPY.


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