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Wednesday January 9, 2008 - 20:26:07 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Thursday 10 January 2008


News and views
New Zealand dollar started out with a bid tone last night, but was once again weighed down by weakness in US equities this morning. Early buying interest, believed to be related to GBP selling, took the NZD through its previous highs towards 0.7740, before it faded back to 0.77. Overall the NZD has remained well within recent ranges and remarkably insensitive to overseas developments.

The Australian dollar was a little more active, heading to a new high before giving back all of the gains made after yesterday’s stronger than expected retail sales figures. Talk of an option structure being defended at 0.8850 kept the AUD capped below this level for a while. But as it broke through this level in London time and no fresh buyers emerged, the market was left long AUD and disappointed. Position unwinding and a resurgent US dollar took the AUD below 0.88 and erased all of yesterday’s gains against the NZD.

US equity markets opened stronger, but the usual flow of poor news and rumours soon sent them into negative territory, weighing on other risky markets. Rumours persist that Countrywide, the largest US mortgage lender, is about to file for bankruptcy protection. Several more economists have declared that the US economy will slip into recession this year, and an increasing number are calling for the Fed to cut its policy rate by 50bps this month.

The pound was the weakest of the major currencies, slipping from 1.9750 to 1.9560. With the pound breaching technical support levels, further losses are expected in coming days. Weak economic data and fading consumer confidence has raised calls for the Bank of England to cut interest rates aggressively. Only 10 of 50 economists surveyed expect a cut at tonight’s meeting, but the BoE has a history of acting pre-emptively.

US mortgage applications surged by 32% last week, though they have not made up for the fall over the Christmas/New Year period. Not surprisingly, the share of refinancing applications rose as US long-term interest rates reached 3-year lows. To date, we have been surprised at how robust mortgage applications have been though the turmoil in housing and credit markets.

The final estimate for Euroland Q3 GDP was revised up to 0.8%, from 0.7% previously and 0.3% in Q2. While European growth was stronger than expected in Q3, Q4 is likely to bring a renewed slowdown. German industrial production dropped 0.9% in November, led by falls in manufacturing and construction. The transport strike in November may explain why the data failed to bounce back as expected.

Canadian housing starts plunged 19.6% in December, sending the Canadian dollar lower. This collapse appears to be a one-off and not the harbinger of a sharp slowing in the housing sector, as housing permits, sales and prices remain well supported. However, this is worth watching over the next few months, with the Canadian economy highly exposed to the US slowdown and the Bank of Canada having already started easing rates.

The New Zealand dollar has been remarkably stable in the last few months, given the turmoil in markets overseas. Record highs in relative interest rates will continue to provide underlying support for the NZD, but the uncertain global picture suggests that substantial further gains will be a struggle, and it remains vulnerable to sharp but temporary dips lower. Locally, economic data is thin on the ground until mid-month, with the CPI the next key release. Headline inflation is likely to breach 3% this time, and will remain well above this level through 2008. Australia faces a similar inflation outlook, though the RBA is more likely to be the first to act.

Upcoming Events
Date Country Release Last Forecast

10 Jan Aust Nov Trade Balance AUDbn –2.98 –2.6
US Initial Jobless Claims w/e 5/1 336k 340k
Nov Wholesale Inventories flat 0.4%
Fed Chairman Bernanke speaks in
Fedspeak: Hoenig
Eur ECB Repo Rate Decision 4.00% 4.00%

UK BoE Repo Rate Decision 5.50% 5.25%
Can Nov House Prices 0.1% –0.3%

Nov Building Permits 6.8% –1.9%
11 Jan US Nov Trade Balance $bn –57.8 –58.5
Fedspeak: Mishkin, Rosengren

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• The grass will be greener (9 January)
• NZ Q4 Employment Confidence Index (9 January)
• NZ Q3 GDP Review (21 December)
• NZ Q3 Current Account Review (20 December)
• NZ Q4 Consumer Confidence (20 December)
• NZ 2007/08 HYEFU Review (18 December)

These papers/publications are available on Online Research on
Westpac Institutional Bank’s website (

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 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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