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The British Pound fell against the US Dollar in overnight trading ahead of a report that is set to show the unemployment rate hit a 12-year high of 5% in August. The Euro Zone Consumer Price Index and Swiss Retail Sales are also on tap.
Key Overnight Developments
• Australia Won't Raise Interest Rates Until Next Year, Says Westpac
• Euro Flat, British Pound Lower Against USD in Overnight Trading
The Euro consolidated in a narrow range below the US session high at 1.4686 in overnight trading. The British Pound moved lower, slipping as much as -0.4% against the US Dollar.
Asia Session Highlights
Australia's Westpac Leading Index added 1.1% in July, rising to the highest level in seven months. The index fell -1.8% from a year ago, the smallest decline since October 2008. The metric seeks to forecast how the economy will perform over the coming three to nine months. Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the upswing in the index over recent months points to a significant improvement in [Australian economic] growth prospects in 2010. However, Evans noted that the bank does not expect future growth will be sufficiently robust to warrant to raise interest rates before next February, reinforcing the cautious tone of the minutes from September's RBA monetary policy meeting.
Euro Session: What to Expect
The UK labor market is likely to show continued weakness as Jobless Claims rise by 25,000 in August, pushing the unemployment rate (known in the UK as the Claimant Count) to a 12-year high at 5.0%. More of the same is expected going forward: a survey of economists polled by Bloomberg forecasts the jobless rate will top 9% next year. Continued job losses will trim incomes and discourage spending, threatening the economy's ability to sustain recent improvements and potentially adding to selling pressure on the British Pound after yesterday's damaging comments from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King. For our part, we sold GBPUSD at 1.6617.
In the Euro Zone, the Consumer Price Index is set to show inflation shrank at an annual pace of -0.2% in August, confirming initial estimates. To that effect, the reading may already be priced into the exchange rate and, barring unforeseen revisions, looks unlikely not produce a meaningful response from the currency markets. The longer-term view is not encouraging for the single currency, however: while the August reading amounts to a slight improvement from the previous month's -0.7% contraction, the bottom line is that prices are set to decline for the third consecutive month, threatening to bring economic growth to a virtual standstill if expectations of lower prices in the future encourage consumers and businesses to perpetually delay spending and investment. This leaves the door open for traders to punish the Euro in the months ahead if it becomes clear the currency bloc is heading for a long-term period of sub-par performance and low interest rates.
Swiss Retail Sales are expected to add 0.7% in the year to July, a reading slightly lower than the previous month's 0.9% result. Shrinking prices have boosted consumers' purchasing power in recent months, encouraging spending, but continued deflation threatens to work against retail activity if it translates into entrenched expectations of even lower prices in the future. Rising unemployment is also setting up to be a formidable obstacle: the jobless rate surged to 3.8%in August, the highest in over three years, and is expected to hit 5% next year.
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