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Sunday February 3, 2008 - 21:12:52 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Morning Report

Morning Report   Monday 4 February 2008

News and views
The high-yield currencies continued to soar,
with the New Zealand dollar reaching its highest levels since the sharp collapse that began in late July. The NZD was steadily bid throughout the overnight session, ending near its highs at 0.7950. A surprise fall in US payrolls in January had surprisingly little impact on currencies, and equity markets still ended the day higher – with US recession fears already having had a good airing, it seems that sentiment and data are meeting somewhere in the middle.\

The Australian dollar also broke through resistance around 0.9000 to reach a 2 ½ month high. The market is close to fully pricing an RBA rate hike at tomorrow’s meeting, but press speculation that they will deliver another by May has given further yield support to the AUD. The European currencies underperformed again, despite an initial pop higher on the US payrolls figures, as both the euro and the pound were weighed down by expectations of rate cuts in coming months.

No matter which way you cut it, the January US payrolls report was very weak. Private payrolls grew by just 1k, and a surprise fall in government jobs pulled the total down by 17k. There was ongoing weakness in factory and building jobs, although losses in finance, the latest sector to persistently shed jobs (down six months running now), were minimal in January. The big downside surprise was in professional and business services, shedding 11k jobs compared to a 70k jump in the previous month. But it is worth noting that the two previous very weak payrolls reports of the last six months – August’s –4k and December’s 18k – have both subsequently been revised quite a bit higher, to 74k and 82k respectively. And with initial jobless claims and the ADP survey of private payrolls both pointing to a solid payrolls gain, January is ripe for an upward revision.

Unexpectedly, the ISM factory report provided the stronger indication that the US economy is managing to avoid recession, rising from 48.4 to 50.7 in January. This was the strongest reading since August last year, thanks to a spurt in the production index. However orders fell again (but at a slower pace) and jobs slipped further into the red. The prices index skyrocketed to its fastest rise in eighteen months. Also, consumer sentiment was revised lower in late January by 2.1 pts, but that still leaves the index at a three month high. Construction spending plunged in December and the back revisions were to the downside, consistent with the collapse in dwelling investment recorded in the Q4 GDP data.

Outlook
Locally, this week’s wages (Tues) and employment (Thurs) figures will emphasise the extent of the inflation pressures that the RBNZ is facing. We expect the unemployment rate to tick down to 3.4% (against the market consensus of 3.6%) and employment to grow by 0.6%. Business surveys shows that firms still want to hire, but difficulty in finding workers is almost the worst on record.

The RBA is now widely expected to raise rates by 25bp at tomorrow afternoon’s review. But with market pricing, and 16 out of 21 economists in a Reuters survey, suggesting that this will be the last in the monetary policy cycle, a hawkish statement has the potential to catch out AUD sellers. History shows that the NZD could pop higher along with the AUD on a statement that points to further RBA hikes.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Dec External Migration ann. 6,580 6,240
Aust Jan TD–MI Inflation Gauge 0.6% n/f
Dec Trade Balance, AUDbn –2.25 –2.9
Q4 House Prices (ABS) 3.5% 3.0%
US Jan Corp Layoff Announcements 44k
Dec Factory Goods Orders 1.5% 4.0%
Eur Feb Sentix Investor Confidence 8.2 5.7
Dec Producer Prices %yr 4.1% 4.3%
UK Jan House Prices %yr
(due 4-8th) 5.2% 4.5%
Jan PMI Construction 56.0 55.0

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Q4 labour market preview (30 January)
• NZ Interest Rate Focus (30 January)
• 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)

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

Michael Gordon, Market Strategist, Wellington, Ph: (04) 470 8266
With contributions from Westpac Economics and Westpac Strategy

 

Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 incorporated in Australia (NZ division). Information current as at 4 February 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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Forex news reports can be found on the forex research headlines page below. Here you will find real-time forex market news reports provided by respected contributors of currency trading information. Daily forex market news, weekly forex research and monthly forex news features can be found here.

Forex News
Real-time forex market news reports and features providing other currency trading information can be accessed by clicking on any of the headlines below. At the top of the forex blog page you will find the latest forex trading information. Scroll down the page if you are looking for less recent currency trading information. Scroll to the bottom of fx blog headlines and click on the link for past reports on forex. Currency world news reports from previous years can be found on the left sidebar under "FX Archives."



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Thu 21 Dec
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