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Monday December 17, 2007 - 20:08:33 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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FX Research - Westpac Institutional Bank - Morning Report

Morning Report  Tuesday 18 December 2007

News and views
The
New Zealand dollar continued the sharp losses seen on Friday night, though this time it was almost alone among the major currencies. The NZD began a tentative recovery yesterday, but came under pressure again later in the day as Asian equity markets opened weaker. The upward trendline from the August lows was breached around 0.7830, triggering a fresh wave of selling. NZD eventually bottomed out at 0.7525, but continued to face steady selling early this morning. Further stops are rumoured around 0.7500, which would open the way for a move back towards the previous lows around 0.7440.

The Australian dollar also began the overnight session weaker, but found a base in the New York session. The AUD was hit by a reminder of how the credit squeeze has spread: shares in Centro Group, an owner of 700 US malls, fell 73% after they issued a profit warning and said that they are having difficulty in refinancing $1.3bn of debt. AUD fell as low as 0.8550 before stabilising in a lacklustre offshore session.

US data had little impact on the major currencies. The US current account deficit was $178bn in the September quarter, slightly smaller than expected. The Empire manufacturing survey was weaker than expected at 10.3 in December, but regional surveys are not a good leading indicator for the broader ISM survey.

US TIC data for October showed stronger than expected foreign demand for US Treasuries, corporate bonds and equities. We suspect that this pickup in demand for US assets will prove to be short-lived, as risky assets did well in October but credit concerns reared their ugly head again in November.

The Fed’s term funding auction was held overnight, but a summary of the results will not be published until Wednesday. So it remains to be seen how effective this measure will be in easing liquidity pressures over year-end.

Outlook
Volatility over the Christmas period and a softer tone to recent economic data are likely to keep the NZD under pressure in the short term. Recent market movements are the flipside of the ‘hope’ trade: it was the hope of sharply lower interest rates that supported asset values in the early part of this month, and with uncomfortably strong US inflation figures last week, those hopes have been scaled back.

After the stronger US data last week, our data surprise index has flicked over to a ‘buy USD’ signal for the next three weeks. The normally positive relationship between US data surprises and the US dollar appears to be reasserting itself, whereas in the earlier stages of the credit crunch, better US data instead meant an improvement in risk appetite and a rush back into carry trades. There’s also a strong seasonal bias to US data surprises, with releases in the last few weeks of the calendar year consistently beating forecasts, which supports our view of more USD gains to come.

We’ve maintained for some time that the New Zealand economy would hit a soft patch in the second half of the year, and this week’s data on balance is likely to reflect that. Today we have business confidence at 3pm – a higher currency and dashed hopes of early rate cuts suggest that confidence could tick lower again. There’s also the Government’s half-year fiscal and economic update – stronger revenues will leave plenty of scope to foreshadow tax cuts and spending initiatives, though we expect that details will be thin on the ground.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ NZ Govt Operating Surplus NZDbn 8.7 8.0
Dec NBNZ Business Confidence –19.6% n/f
Aus Q4 WBC-ACCI Survey of Indust Trends 56.4 n/f
Dec RBA Policy Meeting Minutes
Nov Merchandise Imports AUDbn 17.4 n/f

US Nov Housing Starts 3.0% –7.0%
Nov Housing Permits –7.2% –4.0%
Eur Oct Trade Balance €bn 3.9 3.0

UK Nov CPI %yr 2.1% 2.4%
Can Nov CPI %yr 2.4% 2.5%
Nov CPI BoC Core %yr 1.8% 1.7%
Nov Leading Index 0.1% 0.1%

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (17 December)
NZ Q3 GDP Preview (14 December)
• NZ Q3 Current Account Preview (13 December)
• NZ HYEFU Preview (13 December)
• NZ Q3 Terms of Trade (11 December)

These papers/publications are available on Online Research on
Westpac Institutional Bank’s website (www.wib.westpac.co.nz)

Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 incorporated in Australia (NZ division). Information current as at 14 November 2007. All customers please note that this information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. Australian customers can obtain Westpac's financial services guide by calling +612 9284 8372, visiting www.westpac.com.au or visiting any Westpac Branch. The information may contain material provided directly by third parties, and while such material is published with permission, Westpac accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of any such material. Except where contrary to law, Westpac intends by this notice to exclude liability for the information. The information is subject to change without notice and Westpac is under no obligation to update the information or correct any inaccuracy which may become apparent at a later date. Westpac Banking Corporation is regulated for the conduct of investment business in the United Kingdom by the Financial Services Authority. © 2004 Westpac Banking Corporation. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The forecasts given in this document are predictive in character. Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the assumptions on which the forecasts are based are reasonable, the forecasts may be affected by incorrect assumptions or by known or unknown risks and uncertainties. The ultimate outcomes may differ substantially from these forecasts.

 

 

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