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Forex Flash: Thumbnail sketch of Sweden and Norway - BBH

Marc Chandler, Global Head of Currency Strategy at Brown brothers Harriman notes that at the start of March, SEK is the only of G10 currencies that have appreciated against USD.

Amongst the drivers he sees the low level of tensions in the Euro area, even after the Italian elections and the somewhat better economic performance that lends credence to the signals from the Riksbank that a rate cut is unlikely. Further, he notes that Sweden´s manufacturing PMI rose back above the 50 boom/bust level in February (50.9 v 49.2) and the service PMI rose as well (54.6 from 52.6). Domestic demand still appears soft and this is expected to cap growth and keep price pressures subdued.

Chandler continues to write, “The euro has fallen through the SEK 8.40 level and is extending its losses today and is now at its lowest level since last September. A test on the SEK 8.18-SEK 8.20 area looks likely which was seen briefly last year for the first time since 2000. A combination of stronger currency appreciation and soft domestic demand might spark a rate cut by the Riksbank, but this would be several months out, we suspect.”

Elsewhere, the Norwegian economy appear somewhat softer, though retail sales in January rose 1.2%, which was three times what the consensus had forecast. He adds that the February manufacturing PMI was weak at 48.3, but has alternated every month for the past six, back and forth around the 50 level. Norway will report January industrial production figures this week and February CPI next week before the central bank meets on March 14 and it is most likely to keep its repo rate unchanged at 1.5%.

However, unlike SEK, NOK has lost ground to the Euro thus far this year (-1.25%) and it partly sems a function of investment flows. He writes, “From an international portfolio vantage point, the Swedish market is larger than Norway and has more assets. The SEK/NOK cross, which is a favorite punt, has broken down and is now below the 2012 low. Short-term technical indicators suggest there is more room on the downside and a move toward the 2011 low near SEK1.105 is possible.”

Forex Flash: AUD/USD receives further bump following Q4 GDP numbers - OCBC Bank

Emmanuel Ng of OCBC Bank notes that AUD/USD received another bump up after 4Q GDP numbers came in slightly firmer than expected, a day after Jan retail sales surprised with an expansion and the RBA sounded more upbeat on economic prospects on Tuesday.
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