August 2008 - Daily Pfennig

A free, quick-reading daily e-letter on world currencies, economic trends, and the occasional baseball score.

Daily Pfennig

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  • US$ saved by oil...

    * US$ saved by oil... * US Recession? (not according to Paulson)... * New Zealand worst performer in July... * Big Mac Index says buy Asia... ** US$ saved by oil... Good day...And welcome to August. The markets had a little more movement yesterday as the US GDP report came in lower than expected, and had a hidden surprise for dollar bears (more on that later). In addition to the poor GDP numbers, Personal consumption dropped and the GDP Price Index also showed a decrease. The employment cost index was flat, and the weekly jobless claims were slightly higher than expected at 448k. More Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week than at any time in more than five years. The only positive piece of data released in the US yesterday was the volatile (and somewhat unreliable) Chicago Purchasing Managers number which showed an increase back above 50. With all the bad data, the dollar sold off rather sharply and the Euro jumped a full cent to trade over 1.57 for a short while. But the dollar bears didn't celebrate for long, as the dollar sharply reversed course as crude oil prices rode to its rescue. As I explained earlier in the week, the price of crude oil and the US$ have had a very tight relationship lately, with a correlation of .9. Just after the dollar fell due to the GDP releases, crude oil began a sharp $3 drop and saved the US$ from further losses. The price of oil has continued to slide, and is now down over 11% in the past month. This has helped prop the dollar up in spite of a number of poor economic reports here in the US....
  • A week of interest rate decisions...

    * A week of interest rate decisions... * Pound Sterling drops again... * Brazil and Mexico continue to dominate... * Gold and Silver fall... ** A week of interest rate decisions... Good day...The dollar stayed in the pretty tight range it has established over the weekend, gaining some strength over the weekend after losing some ground on Friday. Should be an exciting week as it is 'Interest Rate Decision' week as a number of central banks will be announcing their new rates. I think the rate announcements will reinforce my feelings that the world's economies are heading down divergent paths, with some economies heading down a recessionary path while others maintaining good growth rates. As expected, the US unemployment rose to the highest level in more than four years as employers cut jobs again in July. But the decrease in payrolls was slightly less than forecast, so some were saying 'it isn't as bad as we thought'....
  • Dollar swings a mighty hammer...

    * Dollar swings a mighty hammer... * FOMC expected to sound more hawkish... * Euro Opportunity currencies rally... * RAB leaves rates unchanged, but AUD$ falls... ** Dollar swings a mighty hammer... Good day...The dollar rallied again yesterday, and shot up even more overnight as the markets prepare for the rate announcement from the Fed. Falling oil prices helped propel the greenback higher, as oil fell below $120 a barrel for the first time since May. This latest move puts the dollar index close to 74, the point at which the last dollar correction ended back in mid June. The technical guys are all waiting to see if the index can break through 74.31, a sign that further strength is possible. But I don't pretend to be a technical analyst and would much rather look at the economic fundamentals to figure the direction of the dollar....
  • Fed not as hawkish as expected...

    * Fed not as hawkish as expected... * Markets now turn to ECB and BOE... * Canadian dollar slides... * Aussie hit by 1-2 punch.. ** Fed not as hawkish as expected... Good day...I want to start off today's Pfennig by apologizing for those of you who were waiting to receive their Pfennig yesterday. I sent it off at the normal time, but we had some problems with the program which sends it out, so it was delayed in getting delivered. You can always view the current Pfennig at www.dailypfennig.com where we post it first thing in the morning. That website also has archived versions of past pfennigs for your reading pleasure! They tell me the problem has been fixed, so you should get this pfennig right on time. The dollar drifted higher throughout most of the day yesterday as the markets prepared for the FOMC rate announcement. The sentiment driving the dollar higher was that the Fed would sound much more hawkish in order to keep an overall consensus among the FOMC members. Dollar bulls were expecting a signal from Bernanke that an increase in interest rates would be just around the corner. These higher interest rate expectations encouraged traders to take the dollar index back up to just under 74, a level we haven't seen in almost two months....
  • ECB to change dollar's direction?...

    * ECB to change dollar's direction?... * BOE leaves rates unchanged... * The worst is not over in US housing... * Japan's government signals expansion is over.. ** ECB to change dollar's direction?... Good day...The dollar continued its assault on the world's currencies yesterday as the dollar index moved above the 74 handle. I pulled a chart off the Bloomberg on my way out the door last night, and it showed the only major currency which was up vs. the US$ yesterday was the Swedish krona, which managed a .07% increase. This dollar rally has legs, but I still question the fundamentals behind the dollars surge. Today may be the day we see the dollar finally make a turn, as the ECB will be announcing their rate decision. It is not that I expect Trichet to raise rates, but I do expect him to sound hawkish and refocus the markets attention on Eurozone inflation and away from worries about growth. Two reports out of Germany this morning will bolster Trichet's hawkish stance. German exports rose more than economists expected in June, defying a stronger euro and pushing the trade surplus to a record. Exports increased 4.2% from may, the most since September 2006. German industrial production also increased for the first time in four months with output rising 1.7% from a year earlier. The IMF last month rose its forecast for German economic growth this year and said the global slowdown linked to the US financial crisis was less severe than it expected....
  • Nowhere to hide...

    * Nowhere to hide... * Trichet sounds dovish... * US fundamentals haven't changed... * Olympics open up in China.. ** Nowhere to hide... Good day...The dollar continued to take no prisoners in its move higher. The newly strong greenback was up vs. every currency we track yesterday, and has rallied over 3% vs. the major currencies over the past week. It has been a pretty tough week for yours truly, as I have tried to make sense of this dollar rebound. Chuck can't get back to St. Louis quick enough! The dollar started its big move just after the Trichet gave his statement on his views of the European economy. The ECB left rates unchanged, but Trichet said economic growth will be 'particularly weak' through the third quarter, suggesting policy makers will be wary of raising interest rates again to curb inflation. While the ECB's decision to raise borrowing costs last month was justified by the inflation threat, risks to growth 'are materializing,' Trichet told reporters. 'Overall, downside risks prevail.'...
  • Central bank intervention is the reason...

    * Central Bank intervention is the reason... * Busy data week... * Australia's central bank to mirror the BOE?... * China to slow appreciation ... ** Central bank intervention is the reason... Good day... I know most of you opened the Pfennig up this morning hoping to get a blast of Chuck's witty writing style. Well the airlines arranged for Chuck to stay in San Francisco a little longer, so you'll have to wait another day. The currency markets continued to get hammered by the US$ on Friday with the dollar index climbing all the way back above 76, a level we haven't seen since mid February. The dollar did sell off a bit in early European trading, but it has started to climb again as I write. Several readers sent me an excellent opinion piece by James Turk which appeared on GoldMoney's website. Mr. Turk points to central bank intervention as a major reason for the recent dollar strength. The article agrees with what I was saying last week; that the dollar has no fundamental reason to be rallying. The reports and news out of the US have not been favorable to the greenback, and the twin deficits in the US continue to soar out of control. I mentioned that the recent moves of the dollar smacked of intervention, as the dollar only wanted to move in one direction, ignoring any data which would typically send it back down. Turk points to some data which backs up this intervention theory....
  • Hereeeeeee's Baaaaaacccckkkkk!

    * Dollar rally continues... * Who's buying U.S. debt? * Homeowners upside down.... * U.S. data continues to be bad! ** Hereeeeeee's Baaaaaacccckkkkk! Good day... And a Terrific Tuesday to you! I'm Baaaaaaaaaccccckkkk! Well, actually, I made it to the office yesterday morning, after flying all night from San Francisco (with a stop in Dallas)... I told the crew ahead of time I didn't want to hear anything about how I looked... And they obliged, but I could see that they were giggling inside! I'm still worn out, but Hey! I got back yesterday, to find out I get to go back out on the road all next week... Geez Louise, somebody get me a private plane! HA! Well... The joke on the desk used to be that "When Chuck was gone, the currencies rallied"... That certainly wasn't the case with this past absence! I had pre-written a large part of what I was going to say in yesterday's Pfennig, before I was not able to connect, flying in a big airliner....
  • Trade Deficit Narrows...

    * Dollar rally continues... * Be careful what you wish for! * Prime loans now in trouble... * Norges Bank to keep rates unchanged... ** Trade Deficit Narrows... Good day... And a Wonderful Wednesday to you! Tuesday saw more volatility in the currencies as the dollar went back in forth, but well within a trading range. The euro has melted down to the 1.49 area, where it seems to have found some breathing room. The Trade Deficit for June shrunk, but the Budget Deficit widened... Again, the fundamentals in the U.S. continue to point to recession. All this and more in today's Pfennig, so grab a cup o'java, a chair, and let's go! OK... Front and center this morning, I want to talk about the Trade Deficit, which in June showed a narrowing from $59.8 Billion to $56.8 Billion, which looks good, right? Well... As I told you in yesterday's Pfennig, you have to be careful what you wish for. This drop in the Trade Deficit pushed the dollar higher yesterday morning, and got me thinking... (I know, that could be dangerous, but stay with me here...) A stronger dollar will not play well, share toys, and keep its hands to itself, with exports... And exports have been something short of amazing with the dollar being weak. In fact, exports have accounted for the largest contribution to GDP in the past 5 quarters! (with U.S. Consumer spending drying up, this is possible!) Add to that, everyone getting goose bumps regarding a global slowdown... If the world slows down, like the dollar bulls are claiming they will, thus propping up the dollar, then U.S. exports will slow even more!...
  • Retail Sales Disappoint Again...

    * Dollar rally continues... * U.S. data continues to be weak... * Gold and the A$... * Sterling melts away... ** Retail Sales Disappoint... Good day... And a Thunderin' Thursday to you! Michael Phelps didn't swim in any finals yesterday, so no Gold for the U.S! I'm just floored by this kid! My oldest son, Andrew, was a pretty good swimmer in his day, but my goodness, this kid is on a different planet! OK... Well, front and center this morning, we have a report that just printed that shows U.S. Home Foreclosures rose 55% in July. Bank seizures almost tripled according to RealtyTrac Inc. That's sad folks, simply sad... I look at this report and shake my head in disgust for Alan Greenspan. Yes, Big Al Greenspan is the root of all evil in the housing meltdown... Sure there were the greedy folks that booked loans that shouldn't have happened and all that, but down at the root of the meltdown you'll find Big Al's picture!...
  • Inflation & Jobless Rate Soars!

    * Dollar wages war on euro! * Pulling the wool over our eyes... * A Gold discussion... * 4-weeks of selling renminbi... ** Inflation & Jobless Rate Soars! Good day... And a Happy Friday to one and all! It's been 3 weeks since I last started a Friday with that note. I hit every red light this morning on my way to work, which led me to think aloud in the parking lot, that this isn't going to be a Fantastico Friday... And when I turned on the currency screens, after reaching my desk, I could see why I thought those negative thoughts... It's getting ugly... Yesterday, I was busy with my head down working on something, when Chris Gaffney yelled across the trading desk, "Hey, Chuck, what happened to the euro?" I looked up to see the euro had lost 1-cent in a matter of 20 minutes... But that's not the end... This morning, the euro has given up another 1-cent, and now trades with a 1.47 handle. Just what the heck is going on here?...
  • Falling Short On Financing...

    * Dollar wages war on euro! * TICs comes up short... * An Oil discussion... * Mexico raises interest rates... ** Falling Short On Financing... Good day... And a Marvelous Monday to you! This week is shaping up to be much like a college fraternity pledge "hell week", as we will be as thin as a razor swim suit, with many people out... All I can ask of World Markets customers is that they be patient when calling this week, the wait could be long. OK... Friday saw some ups and downs but all-in-all a range bound day for the currencies. I'm not going to stick my foot in my mouth again and say that it looks like the euro has applied a tourniquet to the bleeding, like I did last week! I'll simply say that it held 1.47, and has added to that in the overnight trading....
  • German Investor Confidence Rises!

    * Gold is oversold... * Dollar index is overbought... * RBA to cut rates... * More tears to shed in housing... ** German Investor Confidence Rises! Good day... And a Terrific Tuesday to you! Whew! A long day yesterday for me and the kids on the trading desk. I suspect today will be cut from the same cloth. We have quite a few currency investors panicking and bailing on their plan to diversify. It's not a One-Way street folks... No one ever said it would be! But those that held on to their positions during the dollar rally of 2005, were rewarded, as I believe they will this time too... But then, I could be wrong......
  • A Downward Revision of Eurozone Growth...

    * Euro rally ends quickly! * Housing Data continues to be bad... * OECD wants Norway's rates increased... * The Aden Sisters on a Wednesday! ** A Downward Revision of Eurozone Growth... Good day... And a Wonderful Wednesday to you! I'm sitting here wondering what to write about this morning, and on the radio is a classic song by Led Zeppelin, Dazed and Confused... Seems quite apropos, eh? I say this because that's what I've been for the last month, as the dollar got up from its death bed, and there's not a sign of any medicine that was prescribed had been taken! Oh well, why would I think that things would change for me at this stage of my life, I've been dazed and confused for a long time! HA! I'm sure that's what a lot of people are saying right now anyway... The euro rebounded over 1-cent yesterday, but that rebound has been wiped out completely in the overnight markets... There's just no lasting power in any currency rally VS the dollar right now. And as I keep going saying, this is reminding me so much of 2005 when the dollar covered up its pimples and posed for GQ, only to see the pimples pop through the makeup by year-end....
  • Fannie and Freddie Back In The News...

    * Strange trading days... * U.K. Retail Sales surprise.... * Norway's GDP prints strong! * A CDO lesson... ** Fannie and Freddie Back In The News... Good day... And a Tub Thumpin' Thursday to you! Don't know why... I just felt like it should be a Tub Thumpin' Thursday! I hit the wall yesterday, as I went home, and fell asleep at 3 o'clock, and didn't wake up till night time! Watched a few innings of my beloved Cardinals, wanted desperately to stay up and watch the May-Walsh beach volleyball game, but went right back to bed! So... I should be rested, eh? One would think so, but with the treatments I take, they just simply wipe me out! But... Hey! I always said that sleep was the greatest thing... I just get to enjoy more of it, right? OK... Another day of strange trading... As I signed off yesterday, the euro had given up it's previous day's gains, but found some terra firma at 1.47 and then rallied in the afternoon... If you guess right, as I have not done so this week, you can catch a great price to sell, and buy, all in the same day!...

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