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Thursday, 15 September 2011 07:45

Forex Market Update: RBNZ Keeps Rates Unchanged Amid Growing Global Uncertainty

Economic Data Highlights

  • US Aug. PPI out at flat m/m, +6.5% y/y, both as expected, vs. +0.2%/+7.2% prior resp.
  • US Aug. PPI Ex-Food/Energy out at +0.1% m/m, +2.5% y/y vs. 0.2%/2.6% expected and 0.4%/2.5% prior resp.
  • US Aug. Advance Retail Sales out at flat m/m vs. +0.2% expected and revised +0.3% prior
  • US Aug. Retail Sales Ex-Autos/Gas out at +0.1% m/m vs. 0.3% expected and revised 0.2% prior
  • US Jul. Business Inventories out at +0.4% vs. 0.5% expected and revised 0.4% prior
  • NZ RBNZ leaves Official Cash Rate unchanged at 2.5%
  • NZ Aug. Business PMI out at 52.9 vs. 53.2 prior
  • AU Sep. Consumer Inflation Expectation out at 2.8% vs. 2.7% prior
  • AU Aug. New Vehicle sales out at +3.3% m/m, +4.4% y/y vs. 9.0%/0.9% prior resp.
  • SI Q2 Final Unemployment Rate out at 2.1% vs. 2.2% expected and 2.1% prior


  • SI Retail Sales (0500)
  • EU ECB's Bini Smaghi to speak (0700)
  • Swiss Industrial Production (0715)
  • EU ECB's Mersch to speak (0720)
  • Sweden Avg. House Prices (0730)
  • Sweden Unemployment Rate (0730)
  • Swiss SNB rate Announcement (0730)
  • Norway Trade Balance (0800)
  • UK Retail Sales (0830)
  • EU Euro-zone CPI (0900)
  • EU Euro-zone Unemployment (0900)
  • CA Manufacturing Sales (1230)
  • US CPI (1230)
  • US Current Account Balance (1230)
  • US Empire Manufacturing (1230)
  • US Initial Jobless Claims (1230)
  • US Industrial Production (1315)US Capacity Utilization (1315)
  • US Bloomberg Consumer Comfort (1345)
  • US Philadelphia Fed Index (1400)
  • EU ECB's Stark to speak (1630)

Market Comments

Another session of two halves last night with the EUR seeing early weakness on the back of Moody's downgrade of French banks and softer data out of the Eurozone. However, that all soon changed as France's Sarkozy, after his conference call with Germany's Merkel and Greece's Papandreou, said France would do everything to save Greece and Greece, on its part, reaffirmed its most recent fiscal reform plan. The EUR had a late wobble when news emerged that Austria's parliamentary finance committee did not approve an EFSF increase with the required two-thirds majority, but still finished higher on the day. Despite the better performance of the EUR, other risk currencies failed to benefit with the AUD and CAD among the weakest performers.

US data continued to be on the weak side with retail sales notably soft. Sales were flat m/m versus an expected 0.2% increase and a downward revision to the previous month kept the mood gloomy. PPI was a touch weaker than expected, flat month-on-month and ex-food/energy just 0.1% higher on the month. Wall St ignored the weak data and took some comfort from gains across in Europe with the DJIA gaining 1.27%, S&P 1.35% and the Nasdaq 1.6%.

Earlier this morning the RBNZ left key rates unchanged at 2.5%, as expected, but retained an overall hawkish bias in case the current global economic uncertainty has only a mild impact on the local economy. That said, there was no mention of removing last March's emergency cut and the RBNZ warned that the high NZD would remain a drag on the economy. Growth forecasts were revised lower with March 2013 down to 3.1% from 4.6% and 2014 to 2.7% from 3.0%.

Asia 'spooked' by talk of an Italy downgrade

The Asian session latched on to a WSJ report that implied Moody's was about to downgrade Italy (though merely noted that it was 3 months since Moody's put them under review for a possible downgrade). Note that Moody's needs to cut its Italy rating 2 notches to bring it in line with S&P's. The headline saw EUR retreating to the 1.37 mark versus the dollar but from there it was a slow grind back to starting levels. The rest of the Asian session was a stable affair with data releases predominantly second-tier.

A speech from ECB's Bini Smaghi kicks off the European session followed by Swiss industrial production, unemployment and the SNB meeting (though not expected to come out with anything new since putting the floor under EURCHF at 1.20 on Sep 6). UK retail sales, Norway's trade data and Euro-zone CPI and unemployment complete the session.

A busy North American schedule on the data front starts with Canada's manufacturing sales and US CPI. The current account data follows along with empire manufacturing, weekly jobless claims, industrial production and capacity utilization while the session closes with Bloomberg's weekly consumer comfort index and the Philadelphia Fed index. The manufacturing activity indices have been very weak of late, but the overall ISM manufacturing fell far less than expected the last time around as the comparatively resilient Chicago Fed proved more prescient for the overall ISM reading. Could we see some mean reversion (higher) in the Empire and Philadelphia numbers?

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