Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today Forex News

Dollar Weakens as Bernanke Cites Growth Risk, Inflation Danger

July 15 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar dropped against the euro as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told a Senate committee that growth and inflation risks have both increased.

The currency weakened the most against the yen since the March collapse of Bear Stearns Cos. as Bernanke said helping financial markets return to more normal functioning remains ``a top priority.'' The dollar earlier touched a record low versus the euro on concern confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will diminish even after the U.S. government pledged support.

``It's hard to find anything dollar positive in the statement,'' said Robert Sinche, head of global currency strategy at Bank of America Corp. in New York. ``Bernanke clearly acknowledged more growth risks than he anticipated a few weeks ago. The problem is coming from the financial sector.''

The dollar declined 0.4 percent to $1.5976 per euro at 10:25 a.m. in New York, from $1.5908 yesterday, and touched $1.6038, the weakest level since the 15-nation currency's debut in 1999. The U.S. currency fell 1.7 percent to 104.35 yen, from 106.14 yesterday. Japan's currency increased 1.3 percent to 166.74 per euro, from 168.89 yesterday, when it weakened to the all-time low of 169.75.

The U.S. currency has given up all the gains made versus the euro since July 3, when European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said he has ``no bias'' on future interest- rate moves.

The dollar strengthened 0.6 percent to $1.5706 per euro that week. It has since slumped almost 2 percent on concern Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy or finance almost half the $12 trillion of U.S. mortgages, will need a government rescue.

The Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against the currencies of six U.S. trading partners, fell for a fifth day on the ICE market, dropping as much as 0.8 percent to 71.314, the lowest level since April 23, from 71.915.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dollar News

Gross Likes Dollar More Than Euro for 1st Time on EU

July 14 (Bloomberg) -- For three years euro bulls used the prospect of higher interest rates in Europe to justify the currency's 32 percent rally against the dollar. No more.

A growing number of the world's biggest investors say a slowdown in the region's economy may be more severe than in the U.S., forcing the European Central Bank to reverse this month's rate increase. By January, the euro will be lower against the dollar, yen and even the pound, according to the median estimate of strategists surveyed by Bloomberg. Bill Gross, manager of the world's biggest bond fund, turned bearish on the euro for the first time since the currency's inception in 1999.

``We might have hit a point where the euro doesn't have a lot to stand on,'' said Emanuele Ravano, co-head of European strategy in London for Gross's Pacific Investment Management Co., which runs the $129 billion Pimco Total Return Fund. ``The euro is ultimately very overvalued. It could be quite a bit lower at some point in time over the next couple of years.''

The euro fell as much as 1.7 percent to $1.5611 in the week following President Jean-Claude Trichet's comments on July 3 that he had ``no bias'' on further changes in borrowing costs after boosting the main refinancing rate to 4.25 percent from 4 percent. Before Trichet spoke the currency traded near a record high on speculation the ECB would signal more than one rate increase was needed to tame inflation. It fell 0.5 percent to $1.5857 as of noon in London today, from $1.5938 on July 11.

Hedge Funds Flee

As the odds that the ECB will lift rates dwindled, hedge funds sold the 15-nation common currency, according to Zurich- based UBS AG, the world's second-biggest currency trader behind Deutsche Bank AG in Frankfurt. New York-based Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. securities firm, said it's ``increasingly confident'' the euro will fall.

``Capital flows look less supportive for the euro and, with the ECB out of the way, the interest-rate policy would also seem to support our view,'' Stephen Hull, a strategist for Lehman in London, wrote in a research note July 11.

The euro is 30 percent overvalued versus the dollar, based on purchasing power parity, according to Newport Beach, California-based Pimco. That's more than any other currency among the Group of 10 richest nations. Purchasing power parity accounts for differences in the exchange rates of national currencies.

``When a currency gets between 25 percent and 30 percent overvalued it tends'' to revert to the mean, said Ravano. The euro may drop to $1.535 from $1.5938 last week, he said.

Burger Test

The Economist's Big Mac Index, which compares prices for the McDonald's Corp. product globally, shows the hamburger is 22 percent more expensive in Europe than in the U.S.

``We're not far off the capitulation point for the euro,'' said Mitul Kotecha, head of foreign-exchange research in London at Calyon, the investment-banking unit of Credit Agricole SA, France's second-biggest bank. The euro will fall to $1.52 by the end of the third quarter and to $1.45 by April 2009, he said.

The European single currency's gain since December 2005 was spurred by eight increases in the ECB's key refinancing rate.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy complained that the currency's strength was harming the competitiveness of European exporters and risked damaging economic growth. Exports from Germany, Europe's largest economy, declined 3.2 percent in May, the most in almost four years, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said July 9.

Gross domestic product in the 15 nations sharing the euro will slow to 1.4 percent in 2009, from 1.7 percent this year, according to the median forecast of 29 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The U.S. economy will grow 1.8 percent next year, from 1.5 percent this year, according to the median of 78 estimates.

`Sharp Slowing'

There are ``concrete signs of a sharp slowing of euro-zone growth,'' Robert Sinche, head of global currency strategy at Bank of America Corp. in New York, wrote in a note dated July 11. Investors should sell the euro against the dollar, he said.

It may be too soon to bet against the euro because the U.S. economy is also slowing, according to Derek Halpenny, head of currency research in London at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., a unit of Japan's largest bank by market value. The euro will rise to $1.62 by the end of the third quarter, before falling back to $1.58 in the final three months of the year, he said.

``We're bullish on the euro,'' Halpenny said. ``The real story over the next three months is going to be the obvious and continued downturn in the U.S. economy compared to Europe.''

The ECB will cut the key rate a quarter-percentage point to 4 percent by the end of June 2009, according to the median of 30 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The Federal Reserve has lowered its target rate for overnight loans seven times since September to 2 percent.

`Incredibly Bearish'

``The rally in the euro is over and we're now incredibly bearish on the currency given the outlook for Europe's economy,'' said Hans-Guenter Redeker, the London-based global head of currency strategy at BNP Paribas SA, the most accurate foreign-exchange forecaster in a 2007 Bloomberg survey.

The euro will slide to $1.50 by the end of the third quarter and $1.45 by year-end, he said. Redeker is more bearish than most strategists. The common European currency will weaken 5.4 percent to $1.50 by year-end, and slip to $1.45 by mid-2009, according to the median of 37 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

``At current levels the euro is an awfully expensive currency,'' said Stephen Jen, chief currency strategist at Morgan Stanley in London and a former Fed economist. ``We see fair value for the currency at around $1.30.''