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Tuesday January 29, 2008 - 20:21:23 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report   Wednesday 30 January 2008

News and views

The New Zealand dollar traded up to two-week highs early in the overnight session, but couldn’t push on through resistance at 0.7800. A continuation of improved risk appetite and a positive day for Asian equities (Nikkei up 3%) provided the initial support. Stronger than expected US data provided some reassurance against recession fears, leaving the market unsure as to whether it should be buying US dollars or riskier currencies, and the NZD finished the day bouncing around within a narrow range.

The Australian dollar briefly traded above 0.8900, but failed to attract further support from there. The market has largely factored in a 25bp rate hike at the RBA’s 5 February review, but talk that a US think tank is predicting the RBA will raise rates twice this year (which also happens to be our view) has provided some fresh yield appeal.

US durable goods orders rose 5.2% in December, their fastest gain in five months, against a median forecast of 1.6%. As expected, there was a further gain in the civilian aircraft component, thanks to record orders for Boeing, and an 81% bounce in the always volatile defence capital goods, more than offsetting the prior month’s 24% slide. But there was also decent underlying strength in the report – most notably, core capital goods orders jumped 4.4%, their fastest gain since a similar rise back in March. Furthermore, core capital goods shipments in Dec rose 2.0% and in quarterly annualised terms were up 5.9%, little changed from Q3’s 6.1%. That suggests expectations of a significant slowdown in Q4 business investment spending may be too pessimistic. The inventory accumulation story in December was also solid. Together, these factors suggest upside risk to our subdued 1.0% forecast for Q4 GDP growth, out tonight.

US consumer confidence fell from 90.6 to 87.9 in January, almost a perfect mirror image of December’s upwardly revised report (from 88.6 to 90.6). December’s dip in the present measure and spike in expectations were both reversed in January, pushing the overall index back down to around where it was in November. One bright spot was that the jobs market assessment improved to its highest since August. With the headline confidence index actually higher than it was in November, despite the Dow having fallen 1000 points or so since then, it seems that consumer attitudes are currently not really tied to the fortunes of the stock market.

On the downside, US house prices fell 7.7% yr in November. The house price data from S&P/CS showed a 2.1% fall in the 20 cities index. All large cities are now showing price declines, which are steepening overall. Since  the mid-2006 price peak, prices have corrected 8.6% lower.


Outlook

The Fed’s rate decision, announced 8:15am tomorrow, is the key focus for markets at the moment, and it seems that the field is wide open – forecasts range from no change to a 75bp cut. It appears that the Fed is trying to frontload its easing to get ‘ahead of the curve’, so we expect a 50bp cut to 3.00%, en route to a 2.25% rate by June. The market is pricing a 90% chance of a 50bp cut, so a smaller move, depending on the tone of the statement, could erase some of the positive sentiment that has lifted equities and high yield  currencies in the last week. Tonight’s Q4 GDP figures will also be closely watched – a significant slowing from Q3 is expected, but none of the forecasters surveyed are expecting a negative number. With the number of major events in the US, you have to suspect that local factors would have been lost in the melee in any case; so it’s just as well that the local data calendar is light this week. Today sees December building

consents, which are expected to remain subdued outside of the volatile apartments component. The December trade balance (tomorrow) will improve on higher dairy exports; we expect a $150m deficit.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Dec Building Consents, mth s.a. –0.1% –0.6%
US Jan ADP Private Payrolls chg 40k 40k
Q4 GDP Advance % ann’lsd 4.9% 1.0%
FOMC Rate Decision 3.50% 3.00%
Jpn Dec Industrial Production –1.6% 1.4%
Eur Jan Retail PMI (F) 46.0 n/f
Ger Jan Retail PMI 44.0 n/f
UK Dec Consumer Credit £bn 1.1 1.0
Dec Net Mortgage Lending £bn 7.8 7.0

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Economic Overview January 2008 (28 January)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (28 January)
• RBNZ Jan OCR Review (24 January)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (21 January)
• RBNZ OCR Preview (17 January)
• NZ Q4 CPI Review (17 January)
• NZ Interest Rate Focus (16 January)

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 30 January 2008. 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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