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Tuesday September 28, 2004 - 20:11:37 GMT -

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Euro And Pound Rally On Stronger Data

DailyFX Fundamentals 09-28-04

By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

· US Consumer Confidence Slips Unexpectedly
· Euro And Pound Rally On Stronger Data
· Yen Extends Slide As Oil Prices Breach $50 Per Barrel


The euro continued to rally towards the top of its recent range as we finally see encouraging European economic data. France, the best performing country of the four largest Eurozone members (France, Germany, Italy, Spain) is once again showing strength. Housing starts increased from a 3 month annualized rate of 11.2% to 13.0% while permits increased from 19.4% to 27.0%. Consumer consumption in France has been fairly resilient and the latest data indicates that it remains so even for big-ticket items like homes. Producer prices also increased a more than expected 0.5% m/m and 2.8% y/y during the month of August, which is the fastest pace of growth in 3 years. The Italian unemployment rate fell to a 12 year low of 8.1% in the second quarter. Germany, which has recently been the laggard, also reported rising consumer confidence. Overall, we are seeing a gradual recovery in the Eurozone as a whole. Meanwhile, the Bank of International Settlements released their Triennial FX Survey this morning. According to the report, FX volume increased 57% over the past 3 years with the EURUSD retaining its lead as the most popularly traded currency pair. The surge in volume can be partially attributed to the increasing popularity of currency trading.


US consumer confidence fell for the second straight month in a row despite the recent rebound in payrolls. Consumers are apparently still concerned about the labor market and the rise in oil prices. If you recall, the previous high in oil prices was made back in August. According to an economist at the Conference Board, the 144k jobs created last month were not enough. Not only are people nervous about jobs, they are also concerned about oil, the hurricanes and Iraq. However, the data was not completely negative since the outlook for the economy over the next six months improved. Meanwhile, oil prices surged to a new record high of $50.20 on the NYMEX ahead of the weekly crude supply data due for release tomorrow morning. Analysts are concerned that supplies could fall for the ninth consecutive month. Nigerian supplies are certainly at risk now with militants accusing Shell/Royal Dutch of collaborating with the government. Shell, which represents half of Nigeria’s oil output has taken measures to protect their staff and said that supplies would be affected. Nigeria is a high-grade oil supplier to the US and China. Tomorrow, we are expecting the final Q2 GDP report for the US. Growth is expected to be revised higher following upward revisions to inventories and construction.


Today is the fifth consecutive day of gains for the British pound. Stronger business investment helped to bolster gains. Second quarter business investment was revised higher from 1.9% to 2.6% qoq. Annualized business investment was 5.9%, slightly weaker than last quarter’s annualized growth rate of 6.2%. Nevertheless, it provides a strong foundation for growth. On a broader perspective, although there are clear signs that the UK economy is slowing, growth remains solid and is only slowing from pretty elevated levels. There are a good number of UK economic data scheduled for release tomorrow. The most important of which are Q2 GDP, the current account balance, consumer confidence and the CBI distributive trades survey. GDP is expected to be revised higher on stronger industrial production during the second quarter while higher retail sales last month should boost the CBI distributive trades survey. The risk is to the downside though, which would coincide with the fact that the rally in the pound appears to be losing steam.


The story of the Japanese yen remains unchanged as oil prices continue to drive down the yen. As we mentioned in our USDCHF commentary, oil prices surged above $50 a barrel in NYMEX trading. The question has always been which is worse off when oil rises, is it the Japanese yen or the US dollar. Although both countries are net oil importers, Japan has minimal alternative energy resources and does not build strategic petroleum reserves like the US. So they are certainly more sensitive to changes in oil prices. In 2001, the country's dependence on imports for primary energy stood at more than 79%. Oil provided Japan with 50% of its total energy needs, coal 17%, nuclear power 14%, natural gas 14%, hydroelectric power 4%, and renewable sources a mere 1.1%.


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