The dollar rallied last week after the release of higher than expected inflation figures.
US CPI and PPI both came in above expectation and this meant some traders pared
back their rate cut expectations. The market has been looking for the Fed to continue
loosening the economy and the news that price pressure remains high threw doubt on
this prediction. What does this mean? The prospect of lower yields from Fed funds has
been one of the reasons the dollar has remained under pressure of late. In contrast,
equity markets have been buoyed by the rate cuts and we have witnessed large shifts
into carry-trade currencies, namely Aussie and Kiwi, as traders look to take advantage
of the widening interest rate differentials.
Short-term support has come from the rising inflation data but the news is not without
risk. Worldwide inflation is due to linger at the higher levels, especially with recent rises
in food and fuel prices. The Fed had insisted that inflation would begin to fall with the
slowing in growth but if it remains elevated it could spell trouble. In this environment the
economy could enter a period of stagflation – A situation where the Fed are unable to
cut rates for fear of runaway inflation despite the economy needing further loosening.
This is a real risk given the economy’s growth hangs in the balance, and there has
been talk of recessionary conditions. It will be interesting to see if the Fed changes
their loosening bias going forward. However, it is likely that this rally is somewhat short
lived, more so against the euro than the pound.
The week ahead
We may see a similar reaction from sterling this week. Tuesday’s CPI figures are
expected to have risen up to 2.2% and any number above this might temporarily ease
the GBP negative sentiment we have witnessed of late. The market turned bearish
after the early rate cut and has since been trying to accurately price in how many more
cuts to come. Housing data in the UK continues to soften and this has not helped the
The other big release this week is the minutes from the last Bank of England meeting.
The market will be eager to find out how close the voting was. An almost even split
from the nine members should be a little GBP supportive. The consensus is for 6-3,
while a 7-2, 8-1 or 9-0 will not do sterling any favours.
From the US, PCE price index will give us another look at inflation. This index is the
Fed’s preferred measure and a rise in this could bring about a similar reaction to last
week’s upward surprise.
The BoE Governor, King, and the ECB president, Trichet, will be speaking this week.
**Please note** As from 1 January 2008, the euro (EUR) will replace the national
currencies of Cyprus (CYP) and Malta (MTL) and will become legal tender in both
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Currency Rates Low High Current
GBPEUR 1.3845 1.4002 1.4040
The Euro had a fairly mixed week, holding value against most low yielding currencies
however coming under pressure from USD and GBP. The German ZEW index, a
measurement of economic sentiment in Europe’s largest economy, fell to its lowest
level since 1993 at -37.2. The institute behind the research stated that the recent Euro
strength has seen growth falter.
GBPUSD “Cable” 2.0138 2.05781 2.0196
At the FOMC meeting on Tuesday, Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve decided to
once again cut rates by 25bp to 4.25%. Some market participants had predicted that
due to recent sharp falls in consumer confidence figures that a 50bp cut may have
been the eventual outcome. The accompanying statement pointed to consumer
spending and business investment slowing and the housing market crisis to continue to
spiral. This prompted a move away from risky assets; carry trades weakened, global
equity markets stumbled and the greenback strengthened alongside typical ‘flight to
Risk reversal fears and declines on equity bourses weakened the carry trade and
commodity currencies slightly last week.
Low High Current
GBPAUD 2.3013 2.3540 2.3526
Aussie dollar mainly followed other commodity currencies on a fairly see-saw week.
The only data release of note was the employment figures which showed an increase
of 52,600 in November although unemployment figures showed an increase of to 4.5%
from 4.3%. As with all other emerging market currencies, year-end liquidity problems
will affect volatility.
GBPNZD 2.5821 2.6554 2.6770
Kiwi was hurt by strong US consumer spending and higher inflation figures losing some
of the gains that been obtained after several central banks announced an action plan to
increase liquidity in the fx markets. The NZ business confidence figure released early
Tuesday morning should prove informative as a barometer of how businesses
domiciled in New Zealand are holding up against the RBNZ’s aggressive monetary
GBPCAD 2.0216 2.0858 2.0314
As predicted, CAD moved further away from parity with the USD on American strength
and industrial commodity price falls. Worthwhile data was hard to come by although
housing starts jumped up slightly. Bank of Canada Governor Dodge expressed relief
that the loonie had weakened back to more acceptable ranges while there were no
clear hints on the timing of any further interest rate cuts.
Low High Current
GBPZAR 13.598 13.915 13.93
South Africa released its ‘Quarterly Bulletin’ on Tuesday with GDP figures rising to
4.7% in Q3 up from 4.4% previously. This continues and extends fears that the MPC is
in somewhat of a quandary as on one hand growth slows however on the other inflation
is increasing. This will lead to another rise in rates in January and an uncertain 2008. In
political news, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma are battling it out for leadership of the
ANC although this has little bearing on financial matters as of yet.
Please see GBPEUR comments above. EURCYP is pegged in preparation for Euro
entry and so GBPCYP moves proportionally with GBPEUR. [Update: The Cypriot
government has allowed the currency to strengthen very slightly to 0.573 against EUR,
in light of market pressure. The pair is now stable here.]
Produced by Jabu Henson and Jeremy Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org) Please feel free
to contact me at anytime regarding these briefings, if you have any questions or thoughts on
them, or if you are interested in a particular event in the calendar.
Please call us on 0800 001 5055 if you have any questions or would like to discuss the markets.
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The above comments are only our views and should not be construed as advice. You should
act using your own information and judgement. Although information has been obtained from
and is based upon multiple sources the author believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its
accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed. All opinions and estimates constitute the
authors own judgement as of the date of the briefing and are subject to change without notice.
Any rates given are interbank and therefore for amounts of £5million and so are not indicative of
rates offered by World First for smaller amounts.
This week’s data
Tues 18th Previous Expected
UK: 09.30 CPI +0.5% (+2.1%) +0.3% (+2.2%)
RPI +0.4% (+4.2%) +0.3% (+4.2%)
US: 13.30 Housing Starts 1.229m s.a.a.r. / -3.0% 1.18m / -4.0%
Permits 1.17m s.a.a.r. / -7.2% 1.15m / -1.7%
CZE / POL: Rate Announcements 3.5% / 5.0% 3.75% / 5.0%
GER: 07.00 PPI +0.4% (+1.7%) +0.4% (+2.1%)
SWE: 08.30 Riksbank Rate Announcement 4.0% 4.0%
GER: 09.00 Ifo Index 104.2 103.8
Current / Expectations 110.4 / 98.3 110.0 / 98.0
UK: 09.30 BoE MPC Minutes
UK: 11.00 CBI Distributive Trades Balance 13
JPN: 23.50 Trade Balance Y1018.6bn (+66.1%) Y917.5bn (+1.0%)
Thurs 20th Previous Expected
JPN: BoJ Rate Announcement & Report 0.50% 0.50%
GER: 07.00 Gfk Index 4.3 4.0
ITL: 08.30 Consumer Confidence 107.6 107.0
ITL: 09.00 Unemployment (Q3) 6.0% 5.9%
UK: 09.30 Current Account (Q3) -£9.054bn -£11.5bn
UK: 09.30 Final GDP (Q3) +0.7% (+3.2%) (p) +0.7% (+3.2%)
US: 13.30 Final GDP / Deflator (Q3) +4.9% s.a.a.r. (p) / 0.9% +4.9% / +0.9%
US: 13.30 Initial Jobless Claims 333,000 335,000
BEL: 14.00 Business Confidence +1.4%
US: 15.00 Leading Indicators -0.5% -0.2%
US: 17.00 Philly Fed Index 8.2 6.0
FRA: 07.45 Business Climate / Production Outlook 110.0 / 3 109.0 /3
FRA: 07.50 Consumer Spending -1.1% +0.6%
FRA: 07.50 PPI +0.6% +0.5%
ITL: 08.30 Business Confidence 92.2 91.9
EU-13: 09.00 Current Account €0.6bn €1.4bn
UK: 09.30 Retail Sales -0.1% (+4.4%) +0.2% (+4.4%)
EU-13: 10.00 Industrial Orders -1.6% (+2.0%) +2.0% (+6.5%)
US: 13.30 Personal Income / Consumption +0.2% / +0.2% +0.5% / +0.6%
Core PCE +0.2% (+1.9%) +0.2%
US: 15.00 Michigan Sentiment 76.1 / 74.5 (p) 74.8
Bull/Bullish: one who thinks a market, currency or asset will appreciate
Bear/Bearish: one who thinks a market, currency or asset will depreciate
Pip: the fifth significant figure of a currency price: 1.2345
Big figure: the third significant figure of a currency price: 1.2345
Basis point: a 0.01% unit
Tightening (Interest Rates): raising interest rates (loosening is opposite)
Hawkish: comments that suggest interest rate tightening i.e. moving higher
Dovish: comments that suggest interest rate loosening i.e. moving lower
MPC: Monetary Policy Committee, the body that sets UK interest rates
ECB: European Central Bank, the body that sets the Eurozone interest rate
RBA: Reserve Bank of Australia: the central bank of Australia.
Cross-Currency Pair Flow: Where a set of three interlinked rates, e.g. GBPEUR, EURUSD and
GBPUSD, move as any combination of two of these rates must produce the third in order to satisfy a
condition known as No Arbitrage. If there are movements in two markets, then the third must move
deterministically. Also knows as triangulation.
Carry Trade: Simply put, is the borrowing of money in a low interest economy (Japan) and investing it in a
higher yield economy (Australia). This yields a certain profit unless the interest rate differential narrows, or
the exchange rate moves such that it costs more to buy the currency back.
Fair Value- Also called financial fair value: A measure of the theoretical exchange rate using certain
Macroeconomic models (such as eCIP).
Underlying Inflation: A somewhat academic measure of long-term inflation- removing all the’ interesting’
elements like energy and luxury consumption leaving the ‘boring’ elements like utility bills and food.
[Quotes from BoE governor Mervyn King]
Interest Rate Traction: Although there is a group of people who announce an interest rate, it has to feed
through the economy through some very complex and poorly understood channels. Once rate hikes are
having an effect on inflation and long term yields it is said that they are finding traction with the economy.
Unemployment rate: The percentage of people who are able and ‘willing’ to work (ie in the labour force)
who are not employed.
Participation rate: The percentage of the population of working age in the labour force.