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Currency Trading Update

Contestant number 1 continues to dominate the leader board, and as of Wednesday's close, he holds 5 of the top 6 positions. He is sticking with trading EUR/USD in all of his portfolios, and has brought his leading currency trading portfolio balance up to $1,333,678. We have yet to see one of the high ranking currency traders in the top 25 of the entire Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge, but as it stands, this contestant seems to have the best chance of doing so.
Not to be forgotten, contestant number 4 has been holding his own in the top 5 by trading GBP/JPY, which happens to be the fourth most popular currency pair in the contest (by trading volume) but also one of the least profitable for traders (according to Wednesday's gross P/L). Clearly, this hasn't been a problem for contestant number 4, who was well positioned for the broad rebound in the British pound, despite the Bank of England's 50 basis point cut to the Bank Rate, which brought it to a record low of 1.50%. His execution of a few long GBP/JPY positions on December 29, shortly before the pair bottomed near 130, suggests that he is utilizing technical analysis rather than fundamental factors.

While this has worked very much in contestant number 4's favor, there will be heavy event risk on hand on Friday, so traders should beware of choppy price action following the releases:

Asian Trading Session
*No key indicators due to be released.

European Trading Session
01/09/09, 05:00 ET
Euro-zone Retail Sales (NOV) - Retail sales growth in the Euro-zone is forecasted to have stagnated during the month of November, leaving the annual rate negative for the sixth straight month. Such a result would be in line with the steady drop in the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the Euro-zone services sector, which has signaled a contraction in business activity throughout the second half of 2008. In fact, given this probably correlation, the timelier PMI results suggest that retail sales will remain weak not only in this reading for November, but for December as well. The impact on the euro should be minimal, barring a sharp, unexpected decline.

US Trading Session
01/09/09, 07:00 ET
Canadian Net Employment Change (DEC) - At 7:00 ET, the Canadian net employment change is forecasted to have fallen by 22,000 during December while the unemployment rate is anticipated to have risen to a nearly three-year high of 6.5 percent from 6.3 percent. Since the employment change tends to be a very volatile release, this should have the greatest impact on the Canadian dollar, with a sharper than expected drop likely to weigh on the currency and an unexpected positive result likely to push it higher.

01/09/09, 08:30 ET
US Non-Farm Payrolls (DEC) - At 8:30 ET, US non-farm payrolls (NFP’s) will hit the wires and are forecasted to fall for the twelfth straight month in December at a rate of -520,000. Something that is garnering even more attention though is the rise in the unemployment rate, which is predicted to match the June 1993 high of 7.0 percent from 6.7 percent. Results in line with expectations would suggest that consumption will continue to wane through the first half of 2009, and could weigh on the greenback.

Terri Belkas
Currency Strategist
Forex Capital Markets LLC

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