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Forex Major Currencies Outlook (February 28, 2013)

USD: Bullish

The U.S. dollar may have lost some ground against most of its major counterparts during yesterday’s trading but this was mostly a result of a rebound in risk and profit-taking at key levels. 

U.S. data came in mixed with durable goods orders showing a 5.2% decline, worse than the estimated 4.8% drop, while the previous month’s figure was revised down from 4.6% to 4.3%. Core durable goods, on the other hand, chalked up a 1.9% increase. This was much better than the estimated 0.3% uptick and the previous month’s 1.0% growth. Pending home sales also came in stronger than consensus as the report printed a 4.5% jump, outpacing the predicted 1.7% increase. For today, economic data could drive dollar pairs as the U.S. has the preliminary GDP reading and weekly jobless claims on tap. The U.S. economy is expecting to see an upward revision from -0.1% to 0.5% in its Q4 2012 GDP reading and, if that happens, demand for the U.S. dollar could rise as this could bring the Fed closer to tapering off its asset purchases.

EUR: Bearish

The Italian bond auction surprisingly turned out better than many expected, although most market participants were actually expecting the worst. Yields didn’t spike as sharply as the 10-year Italian bond yield landed at 4.83% from 4.10%, still below the 5.00% threshold. However, political uncertainty still lingers in Italy as Bersani refuses to form a coalition with Grillio or Berlusconi, upping the odds for another election in the country. Another factor that could weigh on the euro is ECB head Draghi’s comments on the central bank being far from thinking about a withdrawal of monetary policy stimulus.

GBP: Bearish

The pound managed to escape a strong selloff during yesterday’s trading as their GDP figure didn’t undergo any negative revisions from the initially estimated 0.3% contraction. However, the quarterly business investment report revealed that investors aren’t looking to park their money in the U.K. as the figure came in at 1.2%. This was way worse than the estimated 2.2% uptick for the period and the previous quarter’s 0.5% uptick. There are no major reports due from the U.K. today as pound pairs could trade sideways, awaiting further catalysts. Sentiment for this currency remains bearish though as the BOE has committed to loose monetary policy.

JPY: Neutral

Yen traders continue to sit tight awaiting the nomination of the next BOJ head, but it seems that Japanese economic data has been leading to a few moves here and there. The Japanese manufacturing PMI posted a slight improvement from 47.7 to 48.5, still in the contractionary zone. Preliminary industrial production came in weak at 1.0%, lower than the consensus at 1.6% and the previous 2.5% increase. Earlier today, Japan reported a 5.0% annual increase in housing starts, lower than the estimated 8.9% growth and the previous 10.0% reading. However, Japanese officials claim that the economy is bottoming out but that it will be a long road to recovery. Japanese inflation reports are on tap for later today and weaker than expected figures could be bearish for the yen as it would imply the BOJ has to step up its game when it comes to warding off deflation.

CHF: Neutral

There haven’t been any major reports from Switzerland lately, leaving most franc pairs moving sideways. Although the franc emerged as the safer European currency compared to the euro and pound, the SNB’s commitment to keeping the franc’s value down is preventing traders from buying up this currency.

Commodity Currencies (AUD, CAD, NZD): Bearish

Commodity currencies have broken through key inflection points but seem to show signs of retracing at the moment. AUD/USD dipped below the 1.0200 major psychological support and may be on its way to the 1.0150 mark as Australia printed weaker than expected private capital expenditure and private sector credit data earlier today. Meanwhile, the New Zealand dollar was able to benefit from an improvement in ANZ business confidence data, as the reading climbed from 22.7 to 39.4. As for the Canadian dollar, the selloff seems overdone as USD/CAD has retreated from its recent highs, but Canadian current account data could push it back up.

By Kate Curtis from Trader's Way

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