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Monday February 4, 2008 - 19:48:47 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Morning Report

Morning Report   Tuesday 5 February 2008

News and views
The New Zealand dollar
begins little changed from yesterday’s levels, after briefly visiting a fresh six-month high overnight. The move through the previous high of 0.7960 triggered some stop-loss buying, but this soon passed and the NZD faded back to 0.7920 this morning.

The Australian dollar tracked steadily higher, briefly trading above 0.91 for the first time since mid-September. The RBA is now widely expected to raise rates by 25bp at this afternoon’s review. But with market pricing, and 16 out of 21 economists in a Reuters survey, suggesting that this hike will be the last in the cycle, a hawkish statement has the potential to send the AUD even higher.

US data releases provided little fresh guidance. The 2.3% rise in factory orders in December was thanks to the already-reported surge in the durables component (revised up from 4.9% to 5.0%). The value of nondurable orders was down due to lower energy prices in December. A solid report, but not really news. Corporate layoff announcements jumped from 44.4k in December to 74.9k in January, higher than in January last year but lower than in 2005 and 2006. Announcements are not a particularly useful guide to near-term job market developments, as no account is taken of when the layoffs might occur.

The European currencies remained focused on their respective central bank meetings later this week. The ECB is expected to remain on hold again, but the market is starting to cast a sceptical eye on their continued focus on inflation pressures. The Sentix survey of German institutional and private investors and analysts, conducted late last week, found deteriorating sentiment regarding the Euroland economy for the eighth month running – and the pace of slippage over the latest two months has steepened somewhat. With most European confidence surveys painting a similar picture, ECB officials may eventually take the view that a weaker growth outlook could help take pressure off inflation, allowing a modest degree of monetary policy easing.

The pound gained overnight on what was believed to be M&A-related buying, but otherwise remains under pressure relative to the other highyield currencies (and it is still among the high-yielders in the G10). UK construction PMI resumed its downtrend in January after December’s shortlived rise. January’s 53.9 reading was the lowest since mid 2006, and adds to the weight of evidence pointing to a housing led construction slowdown in 2008. The BoE is widely expect to cut rates by 25bp at its meeting on Thursday, but the 8:1 vote in the January meeting suggests that the decision may be closer than many think.

Outlook
Barring any fresh shocks in offshore markets, we would have to put reasonably high odds on the NZD breaking through its previous record high of 0.8110 in coming weeks. That’s a big ‘if’, though – for one, the lack of a clear rescue plan for the troubled bond insurers and the risk of rating downgrades is an ongoing threat to market confidence. Labour market figures this week will highlight the extent of the inflation pressures that the RBNZ is facing. Today’s wages data will show solid growth in the December quarter – we expect a 0.8% gain in the LCI measure. This series is rarely a market mover though, as it is fairly stable and is well-forecast. We expect the unemployment rate (Thurs) 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 simply can’t find the workers.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Q4 Labour Cost Index 0.9% 0.8%
Q4 QES Private Sector Earnings 1.3% 1.2%
Jan ANZ Comm Prices NZD –0.9% n/f
Aus RBA Policy Announcement 6.75% 7.00%
Dec Retail Sales 0.8% 0.7%
Q4 Real Retail Sales 1.9% 1.2%
Dec Dwelling Approvals 8.9% –2.4%
US Jan ISM Non-Manufacturing 54.4 53.0
Eur Jan PMI Services (F) 52.0 a 52.0
Dec Retail Sales –0.5% 0.4%
UK Jan PMI Services 52.4 52.0

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (4 February)
• 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)

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 5 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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