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Thursday, 23 February 2012 07:32

EUR/USD - Trading The German IFO Business Climate Index

Data in Wednesday's session showed that the manufacturing and services sectors in the euro zone as a whole contracted in February according to the flash PMI's. however this decline was led by the referee and when considering the largest economy in Europe - Germany - we actually saw services (at 52.6 vs 53.7 in January) and manufacturing (50.1 vs 51.0 in January) register levels above 50 level separating expansion from contraction though both did decline compared to their levels in January.

The PMI's show that Germany should return to growth in the first quarter after posting a small decline in the fourth quarter, though in February services registered most of the growth as manufacturing saw a drop in new orders and a marked fall in new export work as a result of weak demand from within Europe.

German IFO Business Climate to Offer Clues As to What's Next For Germany

In the Thursday European session we another key reading for Germany which is Ifo business climate index a measure of 500 business executives and their expectations for economic growth going forward as well as current business conditions. It is used as a leading indicator to gauge future economic activity and therefore is closely watched by market participants

We can see that this index which had declined throughout most of 2011 had turned around of late driven by improvement in business expectations (in orange), while the assessment of current business situation (in blue) has remained steady over the last four months.

The headline index (in red) is forecast to rise slightly to 108.7 from 108.3, an indication that executives see conditions stable and expect a slight uptick in activity. If the index comes in stronger-than-expected (109 or higher) it would signal that Germany's economy continues to be weather the weakness in the periphery of the euro zone. Such a result should help to support the euro in the European trading session.

On the other hand if the business climate index surprises forecasts to the downside, and falls below its January reading (below 108) then the slow down seen in the PMI's is expected to continue in the next few months, a sign of weakness for the euro zone and therefore a fundamental catalyst that could pressure the euro.

EUR/USD - Will Consolidation Continue, or Can the IFO Index Act to Break Recent Ranging Action

The softer euro zone PMI release did not have a substantial impact on the EUR/USD pair though it - along with another month of contraction in China's manufacturing sector according to its HSBC index - did weaken expectations around the global economy which pressured commodity currencies in Wednesday's trading.

For the EUR/USD the still remains heightened uncertainty regarding how the Greek PSI debt swap will unfold in the coming weeks, whether euro zone governments will decide to increase the size of the firewall (ESM) erected to contain contagion from the Greek debt restructuring, as well as overall questions around Greece's ability to adhere to austerity measures.

In the short term however the German Ifo index - being a tier 1 fundamental release - can act as a catalyst for the pair. There is a zone of resistance between 1.3275 and 1.3290 currently in the pair and a positive release could see the euro testing those levels with a breakout to the topside a signal of further upside risk. A weaker than expected report could cause the pair to test its recent upward sloping support trendline (around 1.3215) and if that is broken the 200 hourly EMA currently at 1.3195 and possible below

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