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Slightly Weaker University of Michigan Sentiment Survey

DailyFX Forex Fundamentals 09-17-04

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

· Slightly Weaker University of Michigan Sentiment Survey
· ECB Hurley Says “Inflation Is Not A Great Concern”
· Consumer Price Inflation Slows In Canada


The euro ended the day unchanged and the week down 1.4%. The weaker preliminary US University of Michigan consumer confidence survey failed to drum up any sustaining price action. Confidence dipped modestly from 95.9 to 95.8 in the month of September, which comes at no surprise given the recently damaging back-to-back hurricanes. In the Eurozone, industrial production for the region slowed to 2.4% from 3.0% in the month of July, but remained above the market’s consensus of 2.0%. Of the major economies, production accelerated 1.7% m/m in Germany, 0.2% m/m in France, 0.4% m/m in Italy and decelerated –0.4% in Spain. Broadly speaking, these are still positive gains, which means that the overall trend of industrial production in the region remains upward. Meanwhile ECB council member Hurley said today that, “inflation is not a great concern, but there are some risks that we have to keep an eye on. Oil is clearly one of them, but there are also things like administered prices and indirect taxes." These are the same warnings that Trichet gave in his press conference following the ECB monetary policy meeting on September 2nd. He also added that, “the ECB is comfortable with the expectation that inflation will slow under 2% next year." ECB officials have consistently indicated their intention to keep rates unchanged for some time, so it is still unclear whether the ECB will deliver a rate hike this year.


With the week coming to an end and the lack of any interesting price action today, we want to take a more macro look back to developments over the past 2 weeks in the US and what we expect going forward. Generally speaking, inflation pressures are beginning to subside in the US. Last week, producer prices declined in the month of August. This week, we learned that this softer trend has also filtered over to consumer prices. Retail sales overall were weak, but the downtrend was led primarily by a decline in automobile purchases. The current account balance widened to a record, but foreigners are snapping up enough US assets to make the deficit less of a concern. Manufacturing activity has been mixed, accelerating in the NY region and slowing in the Philadelphia region. Range trading has been the predominant theme over the past week and all we can warn about is increasing breakout risk. Bulls and bears are fighting for control, as the unclear fundamental picture gives neither a strong reason to increase positioning. The first major event risk is next Tuesday’s FOMC rate decision. A quarter point rate hike is already priced into the market therefore the uncertainty lies in the statement. We already know that the Fed is becoming dovish on inflation but remains optimistic on the outlook for the US economy. Any more dovish tones on the tightening front will put another damper on the dollar.


A day of uninteresting data gave the pound no reason to extend yesterday’s gains. Over the past week, although most data from the UK pointed to slower growth, the decrease in the number of unemployed individuals and the incredibly robust retail sales report confirms the overall descriptive picture for the pound – which is strong, but slowing growth. Th7ere are lots of UK economic data scheduled for release next week, the most important of which will be the minutes from the most recent Bank of England monetary policy meeting. The market is pricing in one more rate hike this year and we will be looking to the minutes for confirmation that this is also the bank’s likely intention. However, the diverging US and British monetary policy biases will continue to be a factor weighing on the pound.


The Japanese yen trade this past week has been the dream of all range traders, fluctuating within a perfect band. However, as we cautioned in our euro commentary and what is probably even more important in the case of the yen, the continual contraction in the pair’s range poses significant breakout risk. There is not much Japanese economic data next week, which means that if a large move were to occur, it would be based upon dollar developments and not yen developments. Generally speaking, since Japan is an export driven economy, they are particularly sensitive to the health of the global economy. If the US economy picks up, we expect Japan to do so as well. However if it doesn’t, Japanese growth will probably continue to stall.


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