Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 29/06/11

The Pound slipped further against the Euro yesterday, not the news that consumers who are buying Euros were looking for. The GBP/EUR rate dropped from 1.1163 at the morning’s open, to trade at 1.1142 by the end of the day. There was better news for people buying Dollars though, as the rate picked up from 1.5982, to break back through the 1.60 barrier, with the GBP/USD exchange rate closing the day at 1.6018. The Pound was not helped by the final reading of 1st quarter UK GDP, which although showed no change in the quarterly growth rate of 0.5%, the annual figure was revised downwards from 1.8% to 1.6%. This is a real blow for economic growth prospects in the UK, and the foreign exchange market showed its negative response to this news with the rates dropping as the figures were released.

Today’s economic docket from the UK has seen mortgage approvals show a slight monthly increase, up from 45,400 to 45,900; a positive increase, but falling below the market expectations for a reading closer to 46,300. There are no other figures of real economic note set for release from the UK, but one major piece of news from Europe could well have a big effect on any movements in the currency exchange market.

Following a day of gains against both the Pound and the US Dollar, the Euro will be open to the possibility of sharp movements today. As well as the release of Euro-zone consumer confidence figures, the market will be focusing on the outcome of a vote in the Greek Parliament on austerity measures. For any solutions to be implemented and the IMF to give Greece access to extra funding, this austerity measure bill will need to be passed in Parliament. The market could see a sharp reaction if there is any fallout, and the minute possibility that the bill will not be passed.

The US Dollar did weaken slightly against the Euro and the Pound across the course of yesterday; and the currency was not helped by a poor market reaction to US consumer confidence figures. With the market forecasting only a small drop, from 61.7 to 61.0, the actual figure reported a huge drop down to 58.5. This shows that positive sentiment from the US consumer has fallen significantly, and could be an early indication of a slowdown in personal income and consumer spending, which would translate to an overall slowdown in economic growth.

Today’s US economic docket will see the release of pending home sales figures, and the market will be looking to see if there is any positive support from the housing sector. With the labour market weakening, and also consumer expectations lowering, the currency will need to see some positive sings from this sector if there are to be any gains.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 28/06/11

The Pound closed lower against the Euro, but higher against the US Dollar in the foreign exchange market yesterday. The GBP/EUR exchange rate fell from 1.1270 to 1.1179 through the course of the day, putting pressure on UK consumers who are buying Euros. There was a welcome boost for people buying Dollars though, as the rate moved up from the morning’s low of 1.5930, to break the 1.60 barrier, before falling back slightly to 1.5975 by the end of the day.

There were no economic data releases from the UK yesterday to affect the movement of the currency. Today however will see the release of the final reading of 1st quarter UK GDP. With the quarterly growth rate expected to be confirmed at a level of 0.50% and annually at 1.8%, it is not an entirely impressive outlook for the UK economy, but better than any signs of a drop in growth, which would indicate an economic slowdown. Final figures for total 1st quarter business investment are also set for release, with the market forecasting no change from the previous reading of 3.2%. One figure that may give a positive boost to the Pound though is the UK’s current account balance reading for the 1st quarter; which is expected to see a reduction in the deficit from -10.5billion pounds to -4.7 billion pounds.

The Euro continued to find strength against the Pound and the US Dollar yesterday. The EUR/USD rate closed at 1.4279, a fair movement up from the morning’s level of 1.4134. The only low-level economic data to be released from Europe yesterday were figures showing that Italian hourly wages dropped slightly month-on-month, but held steady annually. The market was not really pushed by this news, as it doesn’t have any real bearing on the overall economic outlook for the Euro-zone.

Today has already seen the release of German GfK consumer confidence for July, which saw an upward movement in the reading, suggesting that sentiment across German society in regards to the economic outlook and their own personal spending is improving. There are a few figures of small economic importance to be released throughout the rest of the day, with Italian producer prices and French total jobseekers claims set for release. These figures though are likely to have little to no impact on the currency exchange market.

The Dollar weakened against the Pound and the Euro yesterday, and the economic docket did little to halt the slide. Figures released yesterday showed that personal income in the US has stagnated, at a level of 0.3%, while personal spending has dropped, from 0.3% to 0.00%, suggesting that wages are not increasing across the country, and regardless of this, consumers are holding onto their money; which is not good for the economy.

The market will focus on US consumer confidence figures that will be released today. The market has forecast a slight increase in consumer confidence, which would be positive for the US currency, as it would indicate a perceived improvement in business conditions, employment and personal spending.

Mike Hood

Monday, 27 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 27/06/11

The Pound finished the week lower overall against both the Euro and the US Dollar in the foreign exchange market. The GBP/EUR rate fell from Monday’s high of 1.1374 down to the week’s low of 1.1168 on Wednesday; before recovering slightly on Friday to close the week out trading at 1.1264. The GBP/USD exchange rate also dropped over the course of the week. From the open at 1.6149, the Pound managed to pick up to a high of 1.6262 on Wednesday, before gradually falling away to 1.5941 by Thursday, and showing hardly any signs of recovery by the week’s end to trade at 1.5980. This was bad news for UK consumers who will now find an increased cost when it comes to buying Euros and buying Dollars.

The economic docket from the UK last week offered no real positive signs for the economy, hence the poor performance of the currency. On Tuesday it was revealed that the amount of money the UK Government had put into public sector finances had increased for the month of May, up from the previous month’s figure of 3.5 billion pounds, to a level of 11.1 billion pounds. Public sector net borrowing also increased, from 7.7 billion pounds to 15.2 billion pounds; a sure sign that the private sector is failing to pick up the slack left by public sector cuts, so the government needs to divert more funds into the coffers to prevent a knock-on effect to economic growth prospects. The Bank of England released the minutes from their last policy meeting on Wednesday, with the Pound taking a sharp downturn as the results showed that the vote to keep interest rates on hold was by a larger margin than the previous meeting. The vote shifting from a 6-3 margin to a 7-2 majority in favour of holding the current rate, and the vote to keep asset purchasing at its current level was at an 8-1 majority. This really rocked the market, and almost counts out any chance of rate hike this year. Thursday did offer a slight positive, with BBA loans for house purchases showing a monthly increase from 29,747 up to 30,509, but it did little to affect the Pound’s slide.

The week ahead does have some high-level market data for the UK, the most notable being Tuesday’s final reading of 1st quarter GDP. The market is predicting no changes in the final reading, with the quarterly growth rate at 0.5%, and the yearly rate at 1.8%. Should there be any revisions though, either to the up or downside, the Pound could see a strengthening or weakening dependent on the outcome. Wednesday will see mortgage approval figures releases, with the market expectation to see a rise in the number of approvals from 45,200 to 46,300, which would be a positive sign for the UK’s housing market. On Friday the currency exchange market will focus on PMI manufacturing data, which is set to see a slight increase, and could benefit the Pound, by showing a positive contribution to the overall economic picture.

The Euro strengthened considerably against the Pound throughout last week, but fell against the US Dollar. An agreement in principle to a bail-out for Greece, along with the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou surviving a vote of confidence, the market may well be taking heart from the solidarity being shown by the Euro-zone; despite whisperings of unrest from senior officials. The currency was buoyed on Tuesday with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso insisting that Greece will ‘never’ be allowed to go bankrupt.

Economic data across the course of last week offered a mixed picture for Europe; the German producer price index showed a drop month-on-month, from 6.4% to 6.1%; a negative sign for a country that that relies heavily on industry. The German ZEW economic sentiment survey also showed a drop for June, indicating that financial experts across Germany are less confident in current market conditions. This was echoed in Wednesday’s Euro-zone consumer confidence survey, which also showed a drop, from a level of -9.9 to -10.0, showing that any market doubt is also reaching consumers. Wednesday also showed that Euro-zone industrial new orders fell from 14.3% to 8.6%. The negative outlook was somewhat reversed on Friday though, with the German IFO survey showing an increase in business climate sentiment, and current assessment of the economic picture.

This week’s European economic docket will be watched closely by traders, with the possibility of some surprises. Wednesday will see annualised German CPI figures released, with the market pricing in a slight improvement, from 2.4 to 2.5%, which could boost the Euro currency. Also on Wednesday, Euro-zone consumer confidence is forecast to hold steady at a level of -10.0, which is not overly positive, but any lack of a decline is welcome. Thursday will focus on German unemployment, with the overall rate set to hold firm at 7.0%, no improvement, but again showing no decline, which the market may view positively.

The Dollar gained considerable ground against the Pound and the Euro over the course of the week. The EUR/USD exchange rate coming down from the weeks high of 1.4439 on Wednesday, to a low of 1.4126 by Thursday, coupled with the drop in the GBP/USD rate down to under 1.60.
The Dollar’s gain was definitely helped by a positive economic docket fro the week. The market taking heart from the news that existing home sales reported better than expected at 4.81 million for the month, down from the previous month’s level of 5.00 million, but beating analysts estimates. Continuing claims fell from 3,698,000 to 3,697,000, showing a reduction in the number of jobless claimants; a positive sign for the US labour market. Durable goods orders also increased for the month of May, showing an impressive increase; up from -3.6% to record a positive result of 1.9%, way beyond the market forecast.

The US economic docket for the week ahead may not be as positive overall, with Monday’s personal income figures set to hold steady, and personal spending for US consumers set to decline; not a good sign for the overall economy. The market has forecast a positive rise in US consumer confidence, which is set for release on Tuesday, along with the University of Michigan’s confidence index also set to show a positive increase when released on Friday. However, ISM manufacturing is forecast to decline on Friday, from the previous month’s level of 53.5, down to 51.5, which may put a dampener on any gains seen by the currency.

Mike Hood

Friday, 24 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 24/06/11

The Pound lost ground against the US Dollar in the foreign exchange market yesterday, the GBP/USD rate falling below the 1.60 mark for the first time since the start of April. This drop instantly puts pressure onto UK consumers who are buying Dollars, with the lower exchange rate meaning that dollar buyers will get less currency for their money. Despite the weakening against the Dollar, the Pound made a small gain against the Euro over the course of the day, closing the UK business day at 1.1278, up from the morning’s low of 1.1246. The only real economic data of note from the UK yesterday was the release of the British Bankers Association (BBA) loans for house purchase figures for May, which showed a slight increase, up from 30,000 to 30,509.

The economic docket for the UK today has no scheduled data releases; so barring any important UK Government statements, or economic-related events, the Pound will be left open to movement based on risk sentiment within the currency exchange market, and key data releases from the world’s other major economies.

The Euro did slip slightly against the Pound throughout Thursday, as mentioned above; giving a small boost to UK consumers who are buying Euros, and also fell against the US Dollar. The EUR/USD rate dropped to 1.4164 by the day’s close, down greatly from 1.4269. The European economic docket did little to support the currency, with French and German PMI Manufacturing figures reporting lower, and the combined Euro-zone PMI results for manufacturing and services also falling, consequently the composite figure reporting far lower than expected.

Today’s European economic docket has already seen the release of German IFO figures, which has seen a positive increase. The German firms who are surveyed to produce the reading have shown that their view of the business climate and current assessment of the overall economic picture has improved since last month’s survey. However, their monthly reviewed expectations for the following 6 month period haven’t improved at all. The market will be watching closely for any news out of the EU leader’s summit in Brussels, with sovereign debt in Greece, and the possibility of debt contagion spreading to nations such as Ireland, Spain and Portugal likely to be high on the agenda.

The US Dollar strengthened across the board yesterday, pulling higher against both the Pound and the Euro. This can be attributed to risk-aversion in the market, with the Dollar traditionally benefiting from its status as a safe-haven currency; with speculative traders usually buying Dollars to avoid any uncertainty in the market such as the current Greek bailout situation in Europe. The currency was also aided by positive economic news, with new home sales for May reporting an increase, up from 310,000 to 319,000; a welcome boost for the US housing market.

The currency may not see much movement based on today’s US economic docket, with durable goods orders the only figure of note set for release. The figure is widely expected to report an increase, which would be a positive result for the US economy as a whole, but may not be sufficient to push the currency in any direction, by itself.

Mike Hood

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 22/06/11

The Pound ended up losing ground against the Euro, but making a small gain against the US Dollar through the course of yesterday. The GBP/EUR rate slipped down to 1.1269 from the mornings open close to 1.13, with the GBP/USD exchange rate picking up a touch from 1.6227 to 1.6238 by the end of the day. There wasn’t a great deal of data released from the UK, but the figures that were published showed that Public Sector finances increased in the month of May, from 6.6 billion pounds up to 11.1 billion pounds. But contrary to this, Public Sector Net Borrowing dropped from 16.5 billion pounds to 15.2 billion pounds, showing that the UK Government has increased the amount of funds it diverts into the public sector; but is finding this capital from non-borrowed sources.

The major data event for the UK today will be the release of the Bank of England’s minutes from their last policy meeting. Whilst there was no change in either the base rate, or asset purchase target at the last meeting; the minutes will be studied closely for any signs of a shift in rhetoric; and the all important voting numbers, which may be indicative of future policy. The foreign exchange market is likely to take direction from any surprises within the minutes.

The Euro managed to gain some ground against the Pound and the US Dollar yesterday, despite the ongoing Greek bailout situation. With finance ministers pushing hard for a solution, the market may be viewing a possible resolution as a sign of strength within the European community, and consequently the GBP/EUR rate is still fairly low, making it tougher for UK consumers buying Euros. The economic docket from Europe yesterday was also fairly disappointing, with the ZEW economic surveys showing that sentiment in Germany and the Euro-zone overall fell drastically.

Today will see the release of the Euro-zone industrial new orders figures from April, and also Euro-zone consumer confidence figures for June. The currency could strengthen if the figures show positive gains, but any push is more likely to come from the bigger ongoing risk-event of Greece’s sovereign debt problems and the potential contagion of this to other nations such as Ireland, Spain and Portugal.

The Dollar did fall slightly against the Euro and the Pound in the currency exchange market yesterday, despite some fairly positive economic figures. Existing home sales figures showed an increase for the month of May, with sales figures up to 4.81 million from the previous month’s level of 4.80 million. This took the market growth percentage up from -5.00% to -3.80%, a sign that the housing market is gradually improving.

Today’s US economic docket will focus solely on the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision, and the accompanying press conference. Exactly as the market will focus on the Bank of England’s minutes release, any shifts in rhetoric or policy stance will affect the currency; with a positive rhetoric from the Fed having the potential to push the GBP/USD exchange rate back down, making it more expensive for UK consumer buying dollars.

Mike Hood

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 21/06/11

The Pound closed yesterday lower against the Euro, but slightly higher against the US Dollar in the foreign exchange market. The GBP/EUR rate opened at 1.1354, but closed trading just under 1.1315; the GBP/USD rate picking up to 1.6206 from the day’s open at 1.6128, a good gain for the Pound, making it slightly more attractive for UK consumers who are buying Dollars. There were no economic data releases from the UK yesterday, so the currency was left open to market movements based on sentiment and news from other world economies.

Today’s UK economic docket will focus on public sector finances; with the monthly figures for public sector net borrowing and public finances set for release. The market will watch closely to see if the UK Government is sticking to it’s pledge to make deep cuts to reduce the overall debt level, but there could well be a knock-on effect that harsh austerity measures will affect overall economic growth.

The Euro managed to regain some strength against the Pound yesterday, even in the face of disappointing economic data. Yesterday saw the release of German producer price figures for May, and with a sharp drop in the month-on-month figure, from 1.0% growth to 0.0%, and also the annual level falling from 6.4% to 6.1%, it would have made sense for the Euro to weaken slightly, but the result was completely the reverse. It may well be that the currency is finding strength from the strong rhetoric from the EU, that it will reach a suitable solution for Greece, with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso insisting that Greece will ‘never’ be allowed to go bankrupt. Barosso drew parallels with the global financial crisis that started with US banking giant Lehman Brothers going bust; and stated ‘’A country going bankrupt is much more delicate than a bank that would affect all EU members. No, we should never allow a country to go bankrupt.’’ Whilst the Euro continues to find strength, it will make it more expensive for UK consumers who are buying Euros.

Today’s economic docket from Europe contains the highly influential ZEW Economic Sentiment surveys for Germany and the overall Euro-zone. The ZEW survey conveys the opinions of select financial experts on the direction of inflation, interest rates, exchange rates, and the stock market over the next six months, and any shock result in its findings does have the potential to strengthen or weaken the European currency. EU finance ministers are also still working hard to try and produce solution to Greece’s debt woes, and the currency exchange market may take direction from the outcome of this.

The US Dollar weakened against the Pound throughout yesterday, and with no economic data to support the Greenback it also fell sharply against the Euro. The EUR/USD rate peaked at 1.4314, up from the morning’s open at 1.4203.

The economic docket from the US today is comprised solely of housing data; with existing home sales figures for May set for release. Sales are expected to drop, both annually and month-on-month, and in a market that is still fairly weak in the US, it is not a positive sign for the overall economic picture, and could weaken the Dollar slightly on release.

Mike Hood

Monday, 20 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 20/06/11

The Pound closed the week lower against the US Dollar, but higher against the Euro. After the GBP/USD peaked at a high of 1.6440 on Wednesday; a combination of poor UK economic data and some positive signs from the US’s economic docket, the rate fell to 1.6142 on Friday, making it more expensive for UK consumers who are buying Dollars. The GBP/EUR rate hit a mid-week high of 1.1456 in the early hours of Thursday morning, giving a boost to UK consumers buying Euros; but despite some serious troubles in Europe, The Pound failed to hold its gains and slipped back to trade just below 1.13 in the foreign exchange market by the close of play on Friday.

The major disappointments on the UK’s economic docket last week were from the retail and jobs markets. Jobless claims increased by 19,600 for the month of May; way beyond analysts’ estimates, painting a dour picture for the UK’s labour market. UK Retail Sales also fell, both month-on-month and annually, marking a sharp drop in consumer demand which will also affect overall economic growth. Any hopes of increased inflation pushing the Bank of England into a rate-hike were also pretty much wiped out last week, with UK CPI figures reporting a marked slow-down in price growth month-on-month. The CPI figure showed growth had slowed fairly rapidly, dropping from levels of 3.7% down to 3.3%. While the level remains above the Bank of England’s target, it does support the view from the IMF and some senior economists that inflation will fall naturally over time, and the current level does not justify a tightening of monetary policy.

The economic docket from the UK this week does contain some high-level market data. Tuesday will see the release of Public Sector Net Borrowing and Public Sector Finance figures for May; and the currency exchange market will be watching to see if the UK Government is sticking to its pledge of implementing deep cuts to try and restore the UK’s balance sheet to respectable levels. The Bank of England will release the minutes from their last policy meeting on Wednesday, and this is sure to be on of the key releases of the week. The minutes will be studied closely for any signs of a shift in rhetoric; and the all important voting numbers. The British Bankers Association (BBA) will publish its figures for loans for house purchases on Thursday; any improvement in the UK’s housing market will be beneficial to overall sentiment, and possibly the currency. The CBI will also release their figures for reported sales for June on Thursday, and that will be the last piece of data for the UK this week.

Europe continues to face strong headwinds from the as yet unsolved bail-out situation in Greece. Euro-Zone finance ministers are continuing to try and push through a plan which could see Greece receive up to 20 billion Euros in financial aid. While the situation remains unresolved, the currency is open to movement in the foreign exchange market, but over the past week still managed to hold firm against the Pound and the US dollar.

The past week saw Greece’s credit rating cut to ‘CCC’, and in what could be a slight blow to increased rate-hike expectations in Europe, Euro-Zone CPI figures reported a sharp pause in growth month-on-month, and a slight drop in the annual inflation rate. With the ECB widely expected to push on with a tightening in monetary policy, a slow in the inflation rate does add fuel to the fire that a further rate-hike, whilst beneficial to the currency, could start to be ‘damaging’ for overall economic growth across the Euro-zone.

The week ahead for Europe contains a lot of economic data. Tuesday will see the results of the ZEW survey on economic sentiment for June; with the figure having the potential to influence the direction of the currency should there be any major drop or increase in sentiment. The focus will again be on opinion and market sentiment on Wednesday, with the release of Euro-zone consumer confidence. In light of the current issues in Europe, the market will look to the effect that this has had on consumers, and will be an indication of future market trends. Thursday will focus on PMI figures, from France, Germany, and the overall Euro-zone. These figures will be closely watched by the market, any sharp drops could well weaken the Euro. Friday will see German retail sales figures released, along with the GfK consumer confidence survey for July.

The US Dollar peformed fairly well across the course of last week. The economic docket provided great support for the currency, with mostly all the market data released throughout the course of the week indicating a positive outlook for the US economy.

Retail Sales figures were up, beating analyst’s estimates. Producer Prices rose sharply from 6.8% up to 7.3%, along with building permits and housing starts showing good gains. Jobless claims fell for the month of May, showing that the US labour market is making a marked recovery. One of the big figures of the week was the CPI index. The figure showed that price growth increased annually; up from 3.2% to 3.6%, which is positive for the overall economy, and may indicate to the Federal Reserve that should there be a contained sharp rise in inflation, it could be time to start looking at tightening monetary policy, which would benefit the US dollar.

The US economic docket for this week will start with Tuesday’s existing home sales figures. This will give an insight into the health of the housing market in the US, and an upward movement would be positive for the currency. Wednesday will be a major day for the Us economy, with The Federal Reserve announcing their interest rate decision for the month, but with the market widely predicting no change; it will be the accompanying press conference that is watched closely for any shift in rhetoric from policy makers. Thursday will see the market focus shift back to housing, with new home sales figures set to report a slight drop. The economic week will close with durable goods orders figures reporting on Friday, and with analysts expecting a sharp increase, the US Dollar could well close the week with a sharp boost.

Mike Hood

Friday, 17 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 17/06/11

The Pound opened and closed almost unchanged against both the Euro and the US Dollar in the foreign exchange market yesterday. Despite a slight fall in the middle of the day, GBP/USD opened at 1.6142, and closed around 1.6128, with GBP/EUR opening just shy of 1.1420 and closing at levels of 1.1396. There was only one key set of figures on the UK’s economic docket yesterday, and that was Retail Sales result for May. The core result was a drop, both month-on-month and annually; falling from 1.1% to -1.6%, and from 2.3% to 0.00% respectively. This can be viewed as a negative sign for the UK, as it shows a drop in consumer demand, and consequently, a potential slowing in economic growth.

Turning to today’s UK economic docket, there are no figures set for release; which leaves the Pound open to movement in the currency exchange market based on news events and data from the world’s other major economies.

The Euro held firm against the Pound and The US Dollar yesterday, albeit after a heavy drop against the Pound in the very early hours of Thursday morning. Market expectations for a rate-hike in Europe may have been dealt a slight blow yesterday, with the release of Euro-zone CPI figures. The figures showed that the risk of inflation has dampened slightly; the core index reading showing that price growth dropped from 1.6% to 1.5% month-on-month, and fell slightly from 2.8% down to 2.7% annually. While the figure still remains above the ECB’s target level, it may be an indication to the market that the heightened levels are temporary, and do not require a tightening of monetary policy.

While the delicate situation regarding a potential bail-out for Greece continues, the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou appointed current Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos as his new finance minister and deputy prime minister in a government reshuffle yesterday. Traders will be watching the situation closely, with Germany being one of the most likely member states to push for an immediate solution.

The economic docket for Europe today will focus on the Euro-zone trade balance results for April. Should the figures show a swing towards exports outweighing imports in the Euro-zone (a trade surplus) it would have the potential to provide some buoyancy to the Euro, as it would show an increased flow of funds into Europe. If the Euro was to start finding some strength, it would start making it more expensive for UK consumers that are buying Euros.

The US Dollar held steady yesterday, after making huge gains against the Pound on Wednesday, the GBP/USD rate staying at mid 1.61 levels throughout most of Thursday. The huge drop on Wednesday down from 1.6430 has suddenly made it more expensive for UK consumers buying Dollars. The US economic docket yesterday did show some encouraging signs for the economy – building permit figures showed an increase, up from 563,000 to 612,000. Housing starts were also up, from 541,000 to 560,000. The labour market received a welcome boost when figures showed that initial jobless claims fell month-on-month, down from 430,000 claims to 414,000 claims.

Today’s US economic docket will focus solely on the University of Michigan’s confidence survey for June. The figure is considered to be one of the foremost indicators of consumer sentiment in the US, and any drop is usually considered an early indicator of economic downturn. Analysts are predicting a slight drop, from 74.3 to 74.0, but this may not be a large enough swing to hurt the US currency too much.

Mike Hood

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 16/06/11

The Pound ended the day with the rate practically unchanged against the Euro; at 1.1372, but considerably lower against the US Dollar, falling from 1.6368 at the open of the European market, down to just under 1.6200 at the close of play. The influential data on the UK’s economic docket yesterday was all labour-market related. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that claimant count increased by 19,600 to 1.49 million in May. Analysts had expected a rise of 7,000 and the figure represents the biggest rise since July 2009. However, the jobless total fell by 88,000 in the three months to April to 2.43 million - its biggest drop since August 2000. The UK Government is hoping that private firms will create jobs as posts are cut in the public sector were given a boost with news that employment in the private sector increased by 104,000 in the first three months of the year to 23 million jobs. Annual earnings increased by 1.8% in the year to April, down by 0.6% on the previous month, largely because of lower growth in bonuses in private firms.

Foreign exchange traders looking at today’s UK economic docket will focus solely on retail sales, with levels forecast to drop both monthly and annually, from 1.1% to -0.6% and 2.8% down to 1.5% respectively. A growth in retail sales is traditionally considered a good indicator of increase in consumer demand, and consequently economic growth, so should the figures report lower as expected, it doesn’t provide a positive outlook for the UK economy, so the Pound may well come under pressure.

Europe continues to face pressure in the currency exchange market in light of the struggle to find a suitable solution for Greece. This saw the GBP/EUR exchange rate move drastically overnight, up from 1.1370 to peak at 1.1460 in the early hours of this morning. Even with the rate falling back slightly to 1.1420 currently, it makes it a lot cheaper for UK based consumers who are buying Euros. In regards to the potential Greek bail-out: it is a German-inspired plan that suggests a further cash reserve may be needed by the Greek government if the European Central Bank refuses to accept its downgraded bonds as collateral. Such a plan to rework Greece's debts could force Euro-zone countries to fork out billions of extra Euros to avoid economic collapse. The European Commission warned an extra 20 billion Euros could be needed. Protests have broken out in Greece as a 24-hour anti-austerity strike by the country's largest labour unions crippled public services.

Former IMF chief economist Raghuram Rajan’s comments may go some way to settle the market as he stated that restructuring of Greece's debt looked increasingly probable as Athens lacked the political will to carry out widespread privatizations of state assets and budget tightening. "If the debt restructuring happens in a way that banks and markets are prepared for, even if not publicly but at least privately, it is very well containable," he said. But there was a stark warning from Rajan, with him saying "A restructuring which happens because the dialogue breaks down will be more complicated because that would suggest that there will be implications for Ireland, for Portugal and so on, and that could be more problematic down the line."

The European economic docket will be focused on inflation today, with Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures set for release at 10:00. The data may well give the market some doubt that an imminent rate-hike by the ECB is necessary, as CPI is set to hold unchanged at 1.6% month-on-month, and the annual figure is set to drop slightly from 2.8% down to 2.7%. Even though a figure of 2.7% annually would be above the ECB’s target level, a drop may indicate that the rise in inflation is temporary; and will fall naturally over time, consequently not requiring a further tightening of monetary policy to contain it.

The US Dollar strengthened greatly against both the Pound and The Euro yesterday, making it more expensive for UK consumers who are buying Dollars. The Greenback was helped by figures that reported a jump in consumer prices, both monthly and annually. The fact that CPI rose to 3.6% annually, and up from 1.3% to 1.5& month-on-month shows that consumer demand in the US is increasing, and should the inflation figures start to rise too fast, it will put pressure on The Federal Reserve to look at tightening monetary policy to prevent price growth becoming damaging.

The economic docket from the US today is comprised mostly of low- to-medium level market data, which includes building permit figures, along with housing starts and initial jobless claims. Slight increases in any of these figures would provide support to the US Dollar, as it would show a positive contribution to the economic picture. One figure that will be watched closely by the market is the Philadelphia Fed survey, which focuses mainly on manufacturing. An increase, which is predicted by the market, would indicate a positive outlook from manufacturers, and could see increased production levels, which is positive for the Dollar.

Mike Hood

KBRFX Homepage
Twitter - KBRFX

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 15/06/11

Price action on the British Pound was choppy yesterday as UK consumer inflation data caused a mixed reaction among foreign exchange traders. Inflation in May came in line with expectations; holding at 4.5%. This result was unchanged from April’s reading, which was the fastest pace of price growth since October 2008. Core inflation eased from 3.7% to 3.3% over the same period, missing expectations to slow to 3.5%. The drop in core prices leaves some traders speculating that the Bank of England will maintain its dovish policy. As rate hike expectations decreased, the GBP/USD exchange rate pulled back from its high of 1.6441 to 1.6377. The less influential retail price index also saw annual price growth remain steady at 5.2%.

Employment data headlined the UK docket this morning, with forecasts calling for the number of people seeking jobless benefits to rise in May by 6,500 individuals. However market participants were disappointed when official figures revealed that the number of jobless claims rose by 19,600 and the previous month’s increase of 12,400 claims was revised up to 16,900. The news is a hard knock to the UK jobs market and comes amid Government spending cuts to the NHS, Police and Armed Forces. The surprise increase in claims however did not affect the claimant count rate, which remained at 4.6% or the ILO Unemployment rate which held at 7.7%. The Pound fell against the Euro to 1.1350 and to 1.6312 versus the US Dollar, making the currency exchange market less viable for buying Dollars and buying Euros.

In the Euro-area, finance chiefs remained divided yesterday on how to involve private investors into the Greek bailout program, while at the same time keeping the European Central Bank happy. Finance ministers were under increased pressure as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently threatened to withhold their share of the original bailout package if a compromise cannot be reached, and further to this Standard and Poor's lowered the nation's credit rating to CCC. Ministers closed the meeting without coming up with a solution; however, the group has imposed a dead-line of 20th June for an agreement to be reached. Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Luc Frieden remained optimistic that a solution would be reached before the deadline saying, “it’s not exceptional at an informal meeting not to have a decision. But the goal is clearly to have a solution by the end of the month.” The lack of an immediate solution saw the Euro weaken and fall back from its earlier highs; the EUR/USD exchange rate heading back towards 1.4440 and GBP/EUR retracing to levels above 1.1330.

Meaningful economic data will be thin on the ground for the Euro-zone today, meaning Euro traders will have to focus on the Euro-zone Industrial Production figures for price direction. Economists forecast that production will have cooled in April from an annualised rate of 5.6% down to 4.8%. This predicted slowdown in production will most likely weigh on the Euro which is already struggling against the as yet unresolved sovereign debt issue.

Yesterday's US Advance Retail Sales for May showed that consumer spending contracted by 0.3% amid speculation that sales will plummet by 0.5%. The decline in sales was to first to be recorded in 11 months and followed a downwardly revised increase of 0.3% in April. While the contraction in sales was weaker than expected the news still casts a poor light on the US economy. At the same time May’s Producer Price Index (PPI) increased expectations that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will raise interest rates later this year, when prices grew by 7.3% annually to beat expectations for price growth to remain stable at 6.8%. With inflation on the rise the Federal Reserve will be expected to act with an interest rate hike and curb price growth before it gets out of hand, and it is with this expectation that the US Dollar enjoyed a brief rally against both the Euro and the Pound.

Off the economic docket, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke urged the US Congress to raise the debt ceiling citing that failure to do so could lead to credit rating downgrades and damage the treasury market. The Fed Chairman said that even a brief period of delay on the Treasury’s debt obligations could, “cause severe disruptions in financial markets and the payment system.” Earlier in the month, Moody’s Investor Services warned that the US could have its AAA credit rating placed under review unless Congress took steps towards compromising on raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. At present the issue is that Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless the Democrats agree to sever spending cuts, but Bernanke has warned that the debt ceiling is the “wrong tool” for lowering the nation’s budget deficit.

Looking ahead the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is expected to have risen in May by 3.4% up from 3.2% in the previous month, while the core index is expected to see a more modest increase from 1.3% to 1.4%. With yesterday's PPI showing a greater than forecasted increase in price growth its highly likely that the CPI reading will exceed the consensus as higher production costs are often passed onto the consumer. As mentioned earlier higher inflation will most likely stoke expectations the FOMC will raise interest rates to keep inflation in check and thus the foreign exchange market could see a rally on the Dollar. Later into the US session the Dollar could see further potential gains when June's Empire Manufacturing index and more importantly May's industrial production figures are announced. Both sets of data are predicted to show improvements in manufacturing and production from the previous month's readings, with the Empire figure rising from 11.88 to 12.00 and industrial production is set to rise by 2% following a month of stagnant growth.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 14/06/11

Monday's economic docket from the UK was extremely light; however this did not stop the Pound from making some headway against the US Dollar. The GBP/USD exchange rate picked up to a high of 1.6343 by 14:00 BST, making it cheaper for people who are buying Dollars; before heading back towards 1.63. The currency pair received a boost following the release of the Bank of England's (BoE) quarterly inflation report in which the central bank's Chief Economist Spencer Dale said that long-term inflation expectations remained stable. However Dale went onto say that shorter-term inflation expectations were more difficult to gauge and remain "a key area of concern".

May's inflation figures take precedence on the economic docket today, with the headline figure expected to post an annualised growth rate of 4.5% in May, unchanged from April's reading. The core index is expected to show a slight slowdown in price growth, at 3.5%, down from 3.7%. With inflation expected to remain unchanged from the previous month, the BoE is unlikely to face any further pressure to raise interest rates. Even if inflation grew at a faster than expected pace; a result that would usually see increased talk of an interest-rate hike to curb 'dangerous' levels of growth, the currency exchange market is unlikely to react as the BoE has already received support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its choice of appropriate monetary policy, and the view that above-target inflation in the UK is temporary. With rate expectations falling, the Pound could face headwinds and subsequently trade lower against the other major currencies.

In light of on going sovereign debt fears, the Euro managed to end a three day decline against the US Dollar, much to the surprise of foreign exchange traders. The EUR/USD exchange rate managed to push through to 1.44 despite the European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet and German Finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble being unable to agree on the role in which investors will play in the Greek bailout, with Schaeubles pushing for creditors to pay some of the cost, while Trichet believes this could be an enormous mistake. While the disagreement remains unresolved the IMF has threatened to withhold its share of Greece's original bailout package. Such an outcome would be hugely detrimental to Greece and could very well shake up the whole European economy. Adding salt to the wound, credit ratings agency Standard and Poor's lowered Greece's credit rating from B to CCC given the increase likelihood of the nation defaulting on its debt. While the Euro continued to be uninhibited by this news when it came to the US Dollar, the same wasn't true of the GBP/EUR exchange rate which hit 1.1362 at the open of the US session.

Today the European docket will be almost entirely empty of meaningful economic data, but that doesn't mean that the day will be uneventful. Given the threat that the IMF gave on withholding part of Greece's bailout package, European finance ministers have called for a special meeting to be held. If a compromise is reached then the Euro could well rally as the outlook for the region improves. However, failure to reach a suitable agreement could put serious pressure on the Euro, and make the currency exchange rate more favourable for buying Euros.

The three day rally that the market saw on the US Dollar at the end of last week came to a stop on Monday. A lack of meaningful data on the US docket meant left the currency open to risk sentiment, and consequentially the currency traded lower against the other majors as traders regained their appetite for risk. The Dollar made its greatest losses against the Japanese Yen and the Swiss Franc, while the US Dollar was down 0.19% against the Canadian Dollar during the Asian session as well as being down against the Australian and New Zealand Dollars.

This afternoon's session could see the Dollar extend its losses as May's advance retail sales are expected to contract by 0.5%, a sharp reversal compared to April's 0.5% increase. Further to this, interest rate hike expectations are likely to fall given that the month-on-month reading for the US Producer Price Index is expected to slow from 0.8% in April to 0.1% in May.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 13/06/11

The British Pound had a tough time against the US Dollar over the course of last week. The currency slipped against the Dollar early in the week when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its growth forecasts growth forecasts for the UK in 2011 from 1.7% to 1.5%. However, the Fund did support the UK government's austerity measures; saying that it remains ‘’appropriate’’ for the Bank of England (BoE) to uphold the "current scale of monetary stimulus". The comment lowered rate hike expectations amongst foreign exchange traders, with the drop in expectation reinforced on Thursday when the BoE held the benchmark interest rate at the historic low of 0.50% and asset purchases at £200 billion. A negative outlook was reiterated for the Pound on Friday, when it was reported that both industrial and manufacturing production was down in April. Industrial production contracted by 1.7%, despite calls for output to remain flat, while manufacturing, which was expected to see a mere 0.1% decline fell by a staggering 1.5%. The data echoes the weaker Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) readings seen earlier this month and paints a poor outlook for the UK economy. This left the GBP/USD exchange rate to close the week at a low of 1.6220.

This week; Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for May are due for release on Tuesday, but with the BoE expected to maintain its current monetary policy for most of the year, a better than expected reading of 4.5% may not stoke an appreciation in the Pound. However there may be some optimists in the currency exchange market who may feel differently, so a move to the upside is still possible. Employment figures follow on Wednesday with the number of people seeking jobless benefits claims expected to rise by 6,500 in May, with the claimant count rate expected to hold at 4.60%. The ILO unemployment rate is expected to hold at 7.7%. Should the figures come in as expected, it doesn’t present a hugely encouraging result, but any surprises could spark a movement in the Pound. A slowdown in retail sales from April to May could see the Pound trading lower on Thursday, where it may remain lower against the other majors, as Friday's docket remains bare and therefore unlikely to support the Pound.

A mix of sovereign debt fears and poor economic data hurt the Euro's standing against the other major currencies last week. The Euro had started well with rate hike expectations rising on Monday morning when April's Producer Price Index (PPI) grew by 0.9% month-on-month ahead of a 0.8% forecast. The rally was quickly reversed though when German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble expressed that it was not absolutely certain that Greece would receive further bailout funding. Tuesday's Euro-zone retail sales figures and Germany's factory orders both came in above the consensus reading for April, supporting the single currency until Wednesday; which proved a dire day in terms of sentiment for the Euro-zone. A contraction in Germany's exports for April, coupled with weaker industrial production weighed on the Euro, with further negative sentiment coming in the form of a Reuters article saying that the EU, IMF and ECB would not provide further aid unless Greece could resolve under-financing in its adjustment programme.

The Euro continued to slide despite ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet using the key phrase "strong vigilance", in his post rate decision conference on Thursday, to signal a strong likelihood that rates would rise in July. The phrase was used by the central bank's head following the ECB's decision to hold rates at 1.25%, in line with expectations. This would typically lift the Euro against the other currencies, however Trichet went on to say that further tightening measures would follow a rate hike in July and that the central bank has lowered its growth forecasts for 2012. The news kept the Euro under pressure so that by Friday the GBP/EUR exchange rate breached the 1.13 barrier, making conditions better for buying Euros.

European data will be on the thin side this week, with the first item of note being Wednesday’s release of industrial production for the Euro-zone. The data may push the exchange rate lower as forecasts call for production to contract by 0.2% in April. Thursday's Euro-zone CPI readings could allow the Euro to regain any potential losses if inflation comes in above the forecast 2.7% annual growth rate, while an improvement in the accompanying employment rate could see further gains. However the Euro looks set to end the week on a bad note as April's Euro-zone trade balance is expected to see a trade deficit of 1.9 billion Euros.

In what was an extremely quiet week for the US in terms of economic data, the US Dollar performed well. The Greenback benefited from a drop in rate hike expectations for both the UK and the Euro-zone, while Europe was further hampered by trying to resolve Greece's debt issues. A speech in Atlanta by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Wednesday's Fed Beige Book report were the most significant events to take place on the US calendar. On Tuesday the Fed Chairman put fears over another round of quantitative easing to rest when he said he would maintain the current level of monetary stimulus until labour market conditions boost economic activity, but did see the need to expand the current stimulus package. Bernanke went onto say that the US economy was still growing, albeit at a slightly slower pace than previously, and his comments were backed up by the Fed's Beige Book stating that economic conditions "warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period." Finally, on Friday, the Dollar ended the week on a high note when May's monthly budget statement reported a smaller than expected budget deficit, allowing the EUR/USD exchange rate to fall below 1.6350 as the Dollar rallied against the other majors.

This week’s US docket will start with Tuesday's PPI figures for May. Forecasts call for factory gate inflation to fall slightly from 2.8% to 2.6%, while the core index (without food and energy prices) is expected to remain at 2.1%; indicating that food and energy prices may be on the way down after being elevated for so long. Advance retail sales figures will accompany the PPI, but could push the Dollar lower as sales are set to contract in May.

Wednesday's CPI readings seem set to contradict the earlier PPI figure, as consumer inflation is set to rise from 3.2% to 3.4%, potentially bolstering the Dollar through rate hike expectations. Further to this June's Empire Manufacturing index and May's Industrial Production figure are expected to improve. Falling jobless claims and a rise in Housing starts could see the Dollar strengthen on Thursday, although the expected decline in Building Permits may cloud the picture. Lastly, Friday's University of Michigan confidence index could weaken the Dollar, as consumer sentiment is expected to fall in June, while May's Leading Indicators composite index is expected to improve by 0.3% and could potentially soften the Dollar's decline.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 10/06/11

Yesterday the Bank of England announced their decision to hold interest rates at the historic low of 0.50%, and maintain the stock of asset purchases at £200 billion. Initially the rate decision had little effect on the currency, but as the market digested the increasingly unlikely prospect of an imminent rate hike, the Pound gave way and traded lower, with the GBP/USD exchange rate slipping to 1.6399. Market participants will have to wait until the 22nd June for the release of the meeting's minutes, which will also show the voting results, as once again the central bank refrained from releasing a policy statement. The Pound had seen gains earlier in the day with April’s visible trade balance reporting a better than expected reduction in the trade deficit, which shrunk from £7.708 billion to £7.389.

This morning’s industrial and manufacturing figures for April weakened the Pound’s standing against the other majors with the currency falling to 1.6265 against the Dollar and 1.1241against the Euro. Industrial production contracted by 1.7%, despite calls for output to remain flat, while manufacturing, which was expected to see a mere 0.1% decline fell by a staggering 1.5%. The data echoes the weaker Purchasing Manager’s Index readings seen earlier this month and paints a poor outlook for the UK economy. Also on the docket, Output Producer Prices came in as expected, with core inflation growing at 0.2% in May, down from 0.8% in the previous month. The slow down in price growth means that the Bank of England may retain their stance on monetary policy as the data supports their view that the current level of inflation is still a temporary factor that will die down eventually.

The Euro was down versus the US Dollar this Thursday despite the currency exchange market being given a signal by Jean-Claude Trichet that interest rates would increase in July. Following yesterday’s decision by the ECB to hold interest rates at 1.25%, ECB President Trichet used the term “strong vigilance” when referring to consumer prices, a key phrase that is usually followed by a rate hike at the next policy meeting. This would typically lift the Euro against the other currencies. However, Trichet went on to say that further tightening measures would follow a rate hike in July and that the central bank has lowered its growth forecasts for 2012. Trichet's comments sent the GBP/EUR exchange rate through the roof to peak at 1.1301 before falling back and holding near 1.1280 and maintaining a suitable environment to buy Euros.

With the ECB's head having signalled that a rate hike is on the cards for July, market trader's will be watchful for any economic indicators to support this move by the central bank and today's docket provides one such indicator: Germany's Consumer Price Index (CPI). CPI figures do have the potential to push up rate hike expectations, but unfortunately for the Euro, Germany’s CPI remained unchanged. Elsewhere on the docket, French industrial and manufacturing production for April came in weaker than expected. Industrial production actually contracted by 0.3% (although this is an improvement on March’s 1.1% contraction) and manufacturing increased by 0.2% missing estimates for 0.3% rise.

Thursday was a mixed bag for the US Dollar. Just before the open of the North American session the Dollar rallied following a greater than expected contraction in April's trade balance deficit which fell from a downwardly revised $46.8 billion to $43.7 billion, when forecasts had called for the deficit to widen to $48.8 Billion. This saw the Dollar rally and pushed the EUR/USD exchange rate to a low of 1.4478 and GBP/USD to 1.6358. The Dollar's rally was however restricted as initial jobless claims unexpectedly rose to 427,000 from 426,000. While it is only a small increase, it does however echo the rather poor employment figures that were released last week.

The big figure out this afternoon from the US will be May’s monthly budget statement which is expected to show that the budget deficit narrowed from April’s figure of $135.9 billion to $131.0 billion. The forecast outcome has the potential to push the Dollar higher as the data suggest that the US government is a step closer to balancing its spending against its income. However a higher than expected budget deficit would set the Dollar back.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 09/06/11

The news that Moody’s Investor Services could potentially downgrade the UK’s AAA credit rating pushed the Pound lower during yesterday’s trading session. The ratings agency warned that the UK could lose its top credit rating if the government failled to hit its fiscal targets. Francesco Meucci of Moody’s said, “slower growth combined with weaker-than-expected fiscal consolidation efforts” could be cause “to reconsider our stance.” However Meucci did state that the outlook for the UK’s AAA credit rating remains stable, but the warning was enough to stir the foreign exchange market and the GBP/USD exchange rate fell to 1.6355, but this morning the rate had recovered to 1.6466 making it better to buy Dollars.

For the first time this week the UK will be publishing important economic figures, the main event being the Bank of England's interest decision for the month. Forecasts call for the central bank to hold key interest rates at the historic low of 0.5% and to maintain the stock of asset purchases at £200 billion. A surprise rate hike would bolster the Pound's standing, but given the ongoing weakness in the economy and Chancellor George Osborne's implementation of austerity measures, the chances of this happening are very remote. Prior to the interest rate, the UK's visible trade balance is expected to show a narrower deficit since March from £7.66 billion to £7.549 billion. The news could potentially lift the Pound before the BoE announce their rate decision.

A larger than expected decline in Germany’s export figures for April worked against the Euro yesterday, and the single currency was further hampered by an unexpected contraction in German industrial production over the same period. The figures showed that exports in Germany fell by 5.5%, a much worse result than estimates of a 3.0% decline, while the nation's industrial production contracted by 0.6% month-on-month when a 0.2% increase had been forecast. Europe's second round of GDP estimates did nothing to support the Euro despite confirming that Euro-zone growth was up by 0.8% from 0.3% in the 4th quarter of 2010 as sovereign debt fears continued to weigh on the Euro when news came out that Greece may not receive its next lot of aid. A report published by Reuters said that the EU, IMF and ECB would not provide further aid unless Greece could resolve under-financing in its adjustment programme. The news allowed the Pound to regain its footing against the Euro and the exchange rate rose to 1.1250 by the open of the Asian session and the GBP/EUR exchange rate had slipped back to 1.1238 by this morning.

As always when the Bank of England announce their interest rate decision, so too will the European Central Bank. Economists widely believe that the ECB will hold interest rates at the current level of 1.25%, however there will be huge interest in the conference that follows. Trader's will listen closely to ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet's comments for the key phrase of "strong vigilance" to be dropped, a phrase that signals that a rate hike will take place at the next policy meeting and this would bolster the Euro.

The Fed's Beige Book report headlined the US trading session yesterday, and showed that growth had slowed in the federal districts of New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago, while other districts continued to grow at a steady pace, mainly led by manufacturing. Ongoing weakness was reported within the housing sector as demand fell for residential construction and real estate, and consumer spending was also reported lower as consumers struggle with rising food and energy prices and fewer job opportunities. The overall picture is one of sluggish growth in the US, meaning that the Federal Open Market Committee is unlikely to raise rates off the 0.25% low until a more robust recovery is achieved.

Today’s docket will be another quiet one for the US with April’s trade balance sheet standing out as the most influential of the figures out today. Forecasts call the US trade deficit to widen from $48.2 billion in March to $48.8 billion, an outcome that could potentially weaken the Dollar’s standing against the other majors. However the currency could receive a slight lift later into the session as weekly jobless claims figures look set to fall for both initial and on going claimants.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 08/06/11

The British Pound regained its footing against the US Dollar as negative sentiment continued to bear down on the Greenback following last week's poor economic figures with the currency pair reaching a high of 1.6471, making it cheaper to buy Dollars. With the economic data released from the UK so far looking bleak, namely Monday's report from the British Retail Consortium showing a 2.1% drop in retail sales for May, it is unlikely that the UK economy is propping up the Pound. Indeed if the Pound was strengthening then the GBP/EUR exchange rate would not have slipped to a low of 1.1174.

With today's docket having no economic data from the UK, the currency may continue to trade sideways against the US Dollar until Thursday when the Bank of England (BoE) will be announcing its monetary policy for the month. Forecasts call for the BoE to hold interest rates at the current level of 0.50% and maintain its stock of asset purchases at £200 billion. Although this position is highly expected, given that it is backed by the International Monetary Fund, the rate announcement could see the Pound weaken as market traders may scale back expectations that rates will rise later this year.

Yesterday's impressive data from the Euro-zone provided the Euro with the means to push forward its advance against the other major currencies. Retail sales within the Euro-zone grew at a pace of 1.1% annually instead of remaining flat as was forecasted by economic analysts. Further to this, Germany's factory orders rose above the consensus of 9.0%, to show an annualised growth rate of 10.5%. The strong data helped the Euro to rise against the US Dollar to a high of 1.4694 during the Asian trading session.

Euro-zone 1st quarter GDP figures headline the European trading session today with expectations calling for growth to remain unchanged at 0.80% quarter-on-quarter and at 2.50% annually. A downward revision of the figure would put a spanner in the works for any rate hike expectations from the ECB and could see the Euro weaken as a result. The opposite is also true with an upward revision having the potential to push the Euro higher against the other major currencies. Elsewhere on the docket Germany's industrial production figures for April are due for release, with the consensus calling for production to slow from 11.20% to 10.0%. However given yesterdays better than expected factory orders for the same period it's possible that production would have picked up in line with the increase in orders. If so the data will support the Euro, but if production comes inline with economic forecasts or slips below estimates then the Euro could tip lower.

In light of the spartan amount of data to come out from the US this week, foreign exchange traders looked to commentary from Federal Reserve officials in order to gauge the direction of future US monetary policy. According to Dallas Fed President Fisher, the central bank has "done enough if not too much" in terms of providing stimulus for the economy. The Atlanta head Lockhart sat in opposition saying that he was wary of tightening monetary stimulus given the "lack of conviction in this economy" as far as economic growth is concerned. But the official with the most weight behind his comments was of course Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke whose comments remained consistent with past statements, when he addressed bankers in Atlanta. The Chairman stated that with regards to inflation that "there is little evidence" that inflation is becoming "ingrained in the economy" and added that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sees that economic conditions "warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period." Given that last week's jobs data was fairly weak, Bernanke said he would maintain the current level of stimulus until labour market conditions boost economic activity, but did see the need to expand the current stimulus package. With fears of a third round of quantitative easing being put to rest the Dollar made a brief revival to see GBP/USD to fall back below 1.64.

Economic data will continue to remain on the light side today with the key event being the release of the Fed's Beige book report. The report is unlikely to reveal anything ground breaking given that the currency exchange markets are already fully aware of sluggish jobs growth and the slowdown in manufacturing activity. Had there been anything new to reveal it is highly likely that Ben Bernanke would have covered this in his speech yesterday.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market update 07/06/11

With nothing on Monday's docket to guide price direction for the Pound, foreign exchange traders and market participants alike focused on the news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has backed Britain's austerity measures as put forward by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. The IMF said that "Strong fiscal consolidation is under way [in the UK] and remains essential to achieve a more sustainable budgetary position," and that the current economic weakness and above target inflation, which the IMF forecast to fall back to 2% over "reasonable time frame", are temporary. The Fund went onto say that it remains appropriate for the Bank of England to uphold the "current scale of monetary stimulus". This news supports forecasts that the BoE will maintain its current policy on Thursday when the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) convenes to announce their rate decision. The IMF's support should have lifted the Pound but it seems the currency exchange market was more interested in the Fund's growth forecasts for 2011, which it lowered from 1.7% to 1.5%. This left the Pound to hit a low of 1.1185 against the Euro and 1.6340 against the Dollar.

Another quiet day for the UK will mean traders will have to hold their breath until Thursday's rate decision by the MPC and the accompanying trade balance data to get a sense of price direction for the Pound.

A better than expected Euro-zone Producer Price Index (PPI) reading for April lifted rate hike expectations, to see the Euro make some early morning gains yesterday as PPI rose by 0.9% over the expected 0.8%. Further to this the election of a new Portuguese government meant that Lisbon can implement the necessary budget cuts and austerity measures as specified by the EU and IMF, and thus ensure further monetary aid if need be.

However the Euro's gains against the US Dollar quickly evaporated when German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, expressed that it was not absolutely certain that Greece would receive further bailout funding. Given that the single-currency has recently gained support from the notion that Greece will receive funding from the IMF and the EU, the Euro could be in for a major retracement if this is not the case. The Euro's decline was further compounded by ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio who, while delivering a speech in Italy, said the economic outlook for the euro-region remains weak leaving the currency to trade at a low of 1.4550 against the US Dollar.

The forecast stagnation in April's annualized Euro-zone retail sales are unlikely to support the Euro this morning, as the outcome is set to reinforce a weakened outlook for the economy. However a better than expected reading will provide the Euro with the means to retrace some of yesterday's loses. Germany's factory orders for April, which are due for release an hour later, has more potential to lift the single-currency as forecasts call for orders to increase by 2.00% month-on-month after having contracted by 4.00% in March.

While still reeling from last Friday's disappointing Non-farm Payrolls figure, price action for the US currency was largely mixed with economists seeing scope for a third round of Quantitative Easing (QE3) by the Fed in a bid to support the economy. However the US Dollar did benefit from Europe's sovereign debt woes through save haven trading, but it appeared as though markets favoured both the Japanese Yen and Swiss Franc over the Dollar, as a haven, which was evident in the Dollar's decline against both currencies.

Looking ahead the US will see another reasonably quiet docket with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke making a speech in Atlanta being the key event to watch this afternoon. Bernanke's speech will be closely watched by traders for indications as to whether another round of quantitative easing will go ahead, if so then the Dollar is likely to suffer as it is a clear indication that the Federal Reserve believes the US recovery cannot be sustained without support.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 06/06/11

Last week's data out from the UK was largely disappointing, which led the Pound to trade lower against the Euro. There was mixed price action versus the US Dollar across the week, as the US try to deal with their own economic problems. Wednesday's UK mortgage approvals for April showed that lending was still subdued, while the first of the Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) triplet, the manufacturing PMI, under performed for May. The PMI for the services sector also came in below expectations on Friday, to show a slow down in activity since April. Only the construction sector out performed the consensus rising from 53.3 to 54.0.

This week's calendar is looking very light indeed, with nothing major to be reported until Thursday, when the Bank of England (BoE) will be announcing this month's interest rate decision. With this being the first month that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will be voting without the renowned hawk Andrew Sentance, the chances of a further shift in sentiment towards a rate-hike seem less likely. April's trade balance deficit will also be reported on Thursday, with expectations calling for the deficit to have narrowed since March. Friday will see April's industrial and manufacturing production figures announced which are set to show a slow down in production and could potentially weaken the Pound's standing. Lastly May’s Producer Price Index will close the week’s data set and could push up rate hike expectations should the market see a large growth rate than the forecasted 3.40% increase in prices.

The foreign exchange market has witnessed the Euro continue to gather strength, despite ongoing issues of sovereign debt. The single-currency's upward movement started on Monday with news that Greece would undertake another round of austerity measures in a bid to secure funds from the International Monetary fund (IMF) and the EU. The news overshadowed Germany's disappointing decline in unemployment by 8,000 individuals, but the Euro's rally was short lived as by Thursday Moody's downgraded Greece's credit rating by three notches and raised its risk of default to 50%. By Friday though the Euro had recovered, in part due to an upward revision in May's Services PMI for Germany and the Euro-zone overall, but mostly due to some devastating figures from the US, which saw the currency end the week at 1.4430 against the Dollar and 1.12 versus the Pound.

In contrast to the UK docket, there are a number of key European figures to watch for this week, the most important of which being Wednesday's 1st quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reading for the Euro-zone. The figure is expected to remain unchanged at 0.8% growth from the previous quarter. A larger than expected increase in GDP will extend the Euro’s gain while weaker growth will push the currency lower. Market traders will then look towards the ECB's interest rate decision on Thursday, which could remain unchanged at 1.25% given previous commentary from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet that higher borrowing costs could jeopardise the recovery in weaker European peripheries. However Monday's Producer Price Index (PPI) could raise rate hike expectations if inflation comes in above the 6.6% consensus and in turn the currency could receive a boost. Keeping with inflation, Germany’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures on Friday could potentially contradict the ECB’s decision to hold rates (if that is the central bank’s decision) if inflation comes in above the expected 2.40% increase. This is a very real possibility given that Germany’s economic growth has placed increased pressure on price growth.

Economic figures out from the US generated a bearish trend for the US dollar. After a slow start to the week May's consumer confidence index was published on Tuesday showing a drop in consumer sentiment from 66.0 to 60.8. The downbeat news continued on Wednesday when payrolls processor ADP reported that in May the US economy added a mere 38,000 jobs massively missing estimates for 175,000 to be added. Further to this manufacturing activity slowed in May according the ISM manufacturing index which fell to 53.5 from 60.4. However the greatest blow to the US economy came on Friday when the Labour Department announced that Non-farm Payrolls came in well below the consensus of 165,000 jobs with an increase of 54,000. This left the Dollar trading at 1.6420 on Friday against the Pound, with further loses being made against the other safe havens; the Japanese Yen and the Swiss Franc, while against the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian Dollars the US Dollar managed to close the week relatively unchanged from its open.

Meaningful economic data from the US will be in short supply this week leaving traders waiting until Wednesday for the first significant event, the Fed's Beige Book report. Given the recent flurry of weak economic data, the beige book is unlikely to paint a rosy picture for the state of the US economy, so its release could potentially push the Dollar lower. The Dollar could face further woes when Thursday's trade balance sheet is released for April. Economists believe that the US trade deficit will widen to $48.8 billion from $48.2 billion.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 03/06/11

Thursday's trading session saw the Pound continue its decline against the other major currencies and enjoyed only a brief moment of relief when May's Construction Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) came in above expectations. The construction PMI showed that activity within the UK's construction sector accelerated at a faster pace than was seen in the previous month as the index reading moved up from 53.3 to 54.0, beating expectations for a PMI of 53.5. The outcome allowed the GBP/USD exchange rate to briefly peak at 1.6417 before crashing back down to levels of 1.63. The Pound was also burdened by the Bank of England's (BoE) Paul Fisher who, in an interview with the Daily Mail, was reported to say that should the economy take another turn for the worse, that he would consider increasing the size of the central bank's asset purchases. With the BoE highlighting the ongoing weakness within the economy and rate hike expectations remaining subdued, the Pound will most likely face an uphill struggle for the remainder of the year.

The final in the PMI series, the services PMI, is due for release this morning and the general consensus is for a slight slowdown in activity for May. The index is set to slip from 54.3 to 54.2 and has the potential to push the Pound lower as the economic outlook worsens. However a better than expected reading could boost the Pound, but given the backlog of sour data, the Pound could struggle to maintain any such gains.

Despite Thursday's docket remaining bare of economic figures for the Euro-zone, the Euro managed to rally against both the US Dollar and the British Pound, with the exchange rate peaking at 1.4486 versus the Dollar and GBP/EUR falling to 1.1310. The currency made progress on the foreign exchange market following news that Greece has accepted to carry out another round of austerity measures, a move that brings the country closer to receiving another tranche of aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union. At the same time credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Service lowered Greece's credit rating to Caa1 from B1 and raised the nation's risk to default on its debt to 50%, but this news failed to impact the Euro's progress.

For Europe, the week will end with the final revisions to May's Services PMI for Germany, France and the Euro-zone as a whole, which are expected to remain unchanged from their preliminary readings. However as seen earlier in the week, the manufacturing PMI's for the same period were revised down from their preliminary readings, so it might be possible that the services sector has suffered a similar fate. If so then the Euro could retrace some of its gains from early in the week.

Following the announcement that non-farm productivity in the US rose at a greater than expected pace during the 1st quarter, the Dollar rallied against most of the other major currencies. According to the US Labor Department, productivity rose by 1.8% to beat expectations for a 1.7% increase. The currency received further support from its weekly jobless claims figures which showed a modest drop in first time claims for jobless benefits from 428,000 to 422,000. However the figure missed estimates for 420,000 claims to be filed. Continuing claims fell slightly from the previous week's figure of 3.712 million to 3.711 million claims, but failed to fall the consensus level of 3.675 million claims.

The Dollar's upward trend didn't last long on the currency exchange market however; this is most likely due to apprehension over the upcoming Non-farm Payrolls figure which headlines this afternoon's session. Forecasts call for the US economy to add a mere 165,000 jobs in May, the lowest increase in a four month period. A weaker than expected reading on such an influential piece of data could stoke a contraction in risk appetite, pushing the US Dollar and its other safe haven partners (The Swiss Franc and Japanese Yen) higher against the other majors, and the opposite could also be true with a better than expected reading increasing the likelihood of trader's buying up higher yielding currency pairs. Elsewhere on the docket the unemployment rate is expected to tick lower from 9.0% to 8.9% and the ISM non-manufacturing composite is expected to show that service based activity improved in May.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 02/06/11

Yesterday's disappointing economic data reinforced a weakened outlook for the UK, leading the Pound to trade lower on the currency exchange market. The exchange rate on GBP/USD slipped to a low of 1.6373 as manufacturing grew at its slowest pace in 20 months during May as confirmed by the Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) slipping to 52.1 from 54.4. Mortgage approvals for April didn't help either when the number of mortgages approved totalled 45,200 missing the forecasted figure of 47,000. The data has dampened expectations that the Bank of England (BoE) will raise interest rates this year as higher interest rates could damage the nation's economic recovery, and while the foreign exchange market continues to foresee rates remaining at their historic low, the Pound may well remain suppressed.

On today's docket the construction sector's PMI, stands alone in terms of data to be released from the UK. Economists expect activity in the construction sector to have picked up in May with the index set to rise from 53.3 to 53.5. The data has the potential to lift the Pound should it come out on target; however a lower than expected reading will simply extend the Pound's loses against the other majors.

The Euro continued to gather strength over the course of yesterday's European session although weak manufacturing data lead to some volatility on the EUR/USD exchange rate which ranged from 1.4384 to 1.4458, while against the Pound, rates fell to a low of 1.1350. Germany's finalised PMI reading for May showed that manufacturing activity was lower than previously thought as the index fell from the preliminary score of 58.2 to 57.7, and the Euro-zone index followed a similar path, revised down from 54.8 to 54.6. Today the Euro-zone will be taking a day off from releasing any economic data; as such traders will once again focus on developments in the Greek debt crisis for guidance on price action.

The US has not fared much better with regards to economic figures, as the ADP Employment change survey showed that the US economy added a bitterly disappointing 38,000 jobs in the month of May. This fell drastically short of the consensus figure of 175,000 jobs which was lower than April's addition of 179,000. Further to this the ISM manufacturing index showed that activity within the manufacturing sector slowed to its lowest level since September 2009, when the index fell from 60.4 to 53.5. Yet despite the downbeat data, the US Dollar advanced against the likes of the Pound, the Euro, the Canadian Dollar and many others, failing only to make gains against the other safety linked currencies: the Swiss Franc and Japanese Yen.

Given the poor performance of yesterday's ADP employment figure, today's weekly jobless claims will take on greater significance given that they can support or discredit the ADP report. Last week's initial jobless claims figure proved disappointing, with the number of first time claimants rising. With weakness in the labour market being evident the same outcome may occur in this week's reading, despite the consensus calling for claims to drop to 417,000 from 424,000. A lower than expected reading would dampen the outlook for Friday's Non-farm Payroll (NFP) figure to provide a positive outcome. Still historically there has been a difference between the NFP and the ADP figures in terms of gauging the health of the US labour market, so yesterday's weak figure may not have much bearing on Friday's report.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Foreign Exchange Daily Market Update 01/06/11

Tuesday saw the Pound lose ground against the Euro and the US Dollar as the economic docket for the UK remained devoid of figures for a second day. Looking ahead to today's figures, April's mortgage approvals are set to slip from 47,600 approvals in March to 47,000 while net lending secured on dwellings is expected to rise from £0.4 billion to £0.7 billion. May's Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector could weaken the Pound's standing. A lower reading than the expected 54.1 index figure will most likely drive the currency lower, whilst a better than expected outcome could lift the gloomy outlook and push the currency higher.

The Euro saw some support on Tuesday when talks of Greece receiving a second bailout reached the foreign exchange market. According to the Wall Street Journal, German Officials eased off the pressure on getting Greece to restructure its debt before securing additional funds. As part of the deal Greece will have to accept additional austerity measures to receive further funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the EU. Among other requirements Greece will have to extend its public sector pay freeze, make cuts in civil service benefits and limit the nation's capital expenditure. Since this is a significant hurdle to have jumped, in securing additional funds, the news pushed the Euro exchange rate to a high of 1.4414 against the US Dollar and to 1.1420 against the British Pound.

Today final revisions to the German and Euro-zone manufacturing PMI for May headline the European docket. The index reading for Germany is expected to remain unchanged at 58.2 and the Euro-zone's reading to hold at 54.8. Any surprise downward revisions could see the Euro lose some of the gains it made yesterday, whereas a better than expected reading will extend its advance.

Yesterday's price action was mixed with regards to the US Dollar. Despite economic figures disappointing market traders, the Dollar made gains against the British Pound with the currency pair hitting a low of 1.6423. Whilst against the Euro, the Dollar managed to regain some ground after the single currency rallied following the possibility of Greece receiving a second bailout. On the data front Consumer Confidence fell in May to 60.8, the lowest level to be seen in six months. The index fell from an upwardly revised 6.6 in April, missing estimates for sentiment to improve to 66.6. Further to this the Chicago Purchasing Manager Index fell further than expected, slipping from 67.6 to 56.6 to mark its lowest reading since November 2009.

Economic figures due out today look set to provide a weaker outlook for the US economy and as such could stoke a reversal in risk sentiment on the currency exchange market, which lead to an appreciation for the Dollar through safe haven trading. To start with the ADP Employment Change survey is expected to show that the number of employed fell from 179,000 to 178,000 in May. Later into the session May's ISM Manufacturing index is estimated to fall from 80.4 to 57.2, indicating that manufacturing activity is cooling but still showing signs of growth.