US GDP Hidden Surprise Supports QE

“Key” surprises have ended up being the theme of this week. The Fed has extended the term of free money by 18-months and the door is now ajar for further QE. It’s the “when” that many appear to disagree with. It seems unlikely to be applied until after operation twist ends in June. QE2 and the ‘twist’ arrived after extensive debates and many months of weak data. In the medium term, both equities and commodities should continue to benefit from the idea that the Fed has better than even odds of performing additional QE.

US GDP, despite growing at a solid +2.8% in Q4, provided its surprise in the details. The mix of growth suggests weakness this quarter and beyond. The bulk of last quarter’s growth came from the inventory sector (+2% of the top-line). Real GDP ex-inventories were a poor +0.8%, the weakest pace in a year.

Below are some other highlights of the week:


  • CAD: Retail Sales rose a tad more than expected in November (+0.3% vs. +0.2%). However, it was the smallest of four consecutive monthly gains, on increased sales of gas and clothing. Sales rose to +$38.7b slowing from a revised +0.9% increase in October. Sales volume at +0.5% was also the fourth straight increase.
  • USD: Obama’s campaign begins. In the State of the Union address he called for the creation of a trade enforcement division to investigate unfair trade practices, an end to tax deductions related to US company closures of facilities in the US for relocation abroad. He also announced plans to provide financing for US firms competing with overseas firms receiving state financing.
  • USD: December Pending Home Sales (-3.5% to 96.6) fell from its 19-month high print the prior month. The results were +5.6% above the December 2010 point.
  • USD: Weekly crude inventory report increased by +3.6m barrels last week to +334.8m barrels.
  • FOMC: The Fed surprised markets mid-week by extending its contingent commitment to low policy rates through 2014 (an extension of 18-months). In their transparency approach, the FOMC central projections showed only 6 of 17 committee members anticipate no easing before 2015.
  • USD: December durable goods orders firm with a +3% increase and a +2.1% ex-transport print. This supports recent manufacturing survey’s that the sector is regaining some momentum.
  • USD: As expected, seasonally adjusted initial unemployment benefit claims contracted upwards last week to +377k, up +21k w/w. The less volatile four-week average stands at +377.5k. Continuing claims now at +3.55m is more consistent with a +8.6% unemployment rate.
  • USD: December new home sales unexpectedly fell -2.2% to +307k, well below consensus estimates of +320k. It’s disappointing data on the back of other recent housing indicators having been positive. The data suggests that the market cannot be confident of a strong and sustained boost to GDP despite lower mortgage rates.
  • USD: First reading of the US Q4 GDP did not live up to hype. Economists expected +3% and they got +2.8%, however, still a notable improvement from the +1.8% in Q3 print.
  • USD: The belief that more jobs are to be had pushed the UoM consumer sentiment higher to 75 from 74. Sentiment has been expanding for five-months; stronger payrolls lead to stronger sentiment.
  • USD: UoM inflation expectations edged higher to +3.3% at the end of January from +2.7% earlier in the month.



ASIA Week in FX



  • CAD kicks off with its GDP
  • Manufacturing and non PMI’s come to us from CNY, GBP and USD
  • Building and Construction reports are delivered from NZD, AUD and GBP
  • The Swiss have Retail Sales and the Aussies their Trade Balance
  • Housing Price Index are presented in GBP
  • Consumer confidence is reported in the USD
  • The week is dominated by the employment situations in USD,CAD and NZD


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Dean Popplewell

Dean Popplewell

Vice-President of Market Analysis at MarketPulse
Dean Popplewell has nearly two decades of experience trading currencies and fixed income instruments. He has a deep understanding of market fundamentals and the impact of global events on capital markets. He is respected among professional traders for his skilled analysis and career history as global head of trading for firms such as Scotia Capital and BMO Nesbitt Burns. Since joining OANDA in 2006, Dean has played an instrumental role in driving awareness of the forex market as an emerging asset class for retail investors, as well as providing expert counsel to a number of internal teams on how to best serve clients and industry stakeholders.
Dean Popplewell