Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Euro Danger!

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By Mike Conlon | May 10, 2011

Where there’s smoke, there is fire and it is no different for the Greece and the Euro zone. The stories that are being floated insinuate everything from Greece leaving the Euro zone, restructuring debt, or receiving further bailouts. At this point it is difficult to determine what is actually going to happen, but one thing is clear: Greece is in need of help.

Yesterday S&P poured gasoline on the fire and downgraded Greece’s credit rating again, and the current rates Greece would have to pay to re-finance are not feasible in the market. So there is heightened structural risk for the single currency.

In the UK, retail sales figures came in better than expected, but the market is looking ahead to tomorrow’s GDP estimate, which is likely to set the bar low so that the BOE can act surprised when it comes in “better than expected”.

China’s trade balance figures came in better than expected with better exports and worse imports. If they cared to have a stronger Yuan as I mentioned yesterday, perhaps they would be willing to buy more of other people’s stuff. Chinese CPI data is due out tomorrow and there is an expectation that they will raise rates again to try to slow growth.

Oil prices are lower to start the day, as the CME raised margin requirements for oil, but stocks and other commodities are trading higher.

In the forex market:

Aussie (AUD): The Aussie is mixed despite better than expected trade balance figures as the potential for a Chinese slowdown could affect Australia greatly.

Kiwi (NZD): The Kiwi is mostly lower after the IMF came out and said that the Kiwi was over-valued by roughly 20%. Thanks guys! (Click chart to enlarge)


Loonie (CAD): The Loonie is mostly higher today despite lower oil prices as the soundness of the Canadian economy is has been highlighted today after last week’s elections which the market perceives as adding to fiscal responsibility.

Euro (EUR): With all that is going on with Greece, it’s easy to lose sight of the fundamental data that still exists. Tomorrow will bring CPI data and Friday will be the GDP report. The Swiss franc is lower today as CPI data came in less than expected.

Pound (GBP): The Pound is mostly lower as the market is expecting tomorrow’s GDP estimates to be reduced, despite today’s better than expected retail sales figures which showed a gain of 5.2% vs. an expectation of 2.5%. How much longer the UK can deny better than expected data is anyone’s guess. (Click chart to enlarge)


Dollar (USD): The Dollar is showing some strength today despite higher stocks and commodities (except oil) prices as there is still some risk from the Euro zone pushing the safe-haven play.

Yen (JPY): The Yen is lower across the board as the Nikkei was higher on better than expected stock earnings which out-weighed Euro debt concerns.

While there is certainly a great deal of risk in the marketplace emanating from Greece and the Euro zone, the market doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about it. While everyone expects some sort of resolution to be forthcoming, the way in which it is handled could have a major impact.

As I mentioned above, there are many different competing financial interests that could be affected by different outcomes, and the ECB should have come up with a credible plan for Greece (and the others) long ago, as no one expected these problems to just disappear.

But without them we would have little to talk about so the outcome will be important going forward. But I don’t expect Greece to leave the Euro zone, nor do I expect to see a major restructuring of debt. What is most likely is that Germany will reluctantly agree to further aid, and the IMF will get Greece more favorable terms.

However until this occurs, it is wise to be cautious.

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