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Monday February 11, 2008 - 20:24:48 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report Tuesday 12 February 2008

News and views
Currency markets were quiet
in the aftermath of the weekend’s G7 meeting, with little in the way of major data releases. The New Zealand dollar traded a narrow range between 0.7870 and 0.7910. The local data calendar remains light in the near term, apart from a weak REINZ housing report than seems to be a foregone conclusion.

The Australian dollar was the only currency that made any substantial progress, on the back of the surprisingly hawkish RBA statement on monetary policy. The RBA made it clear that, in the absence of a sharp deterioration in the domestic or global outlook, further rate hikes will be needed to bring inflation under control. And given their latest inflation forecasts (core inflation is not expected to return to the top of the 2-3% target band until 2010), there is no point in waiting for the next CPI release in April before acting again. The AUD continued to rise after the statement, eventually running into sellers above 0.9050. A weak start to US equities initially pressured the AUD lower, but this move was soon reversed.

The euro fell below 1.45 despite further attempts by ECB officials to hose down market expectations of rate cuts. Bundesbank head Weber said in an interview that he didn’t think that growth would not slow enough to curb inflation, and that a wait-and-see stance on inflation was not appropriate. While officials stress the limited impact of the recent financial market turmoil on the real economy, euro zone growth has actually been coming off the boil since early 2007, predating the credit crunch. The German ZEW economic sentiment survey released tonight, already at a 15-year low, is expected to fall further.

The pound rose after producer prices turned out much stronger than forecast, denting hopes of further rate cuts this year. Input prices rose 2.6% in January, and December was revised up from 0.5% to 1.4%, while core output prices rose 0.8% against the average forecast of 0.3%. The data raises the risk that tonight’s CPI inflation figures could also beat forecasts, although historically the correlation between ‘surprises’ has been low.

USD/JPY broke below 107.00 on talk that Japanese investors will repatriate the coupons due to be paid on their US dollar bond holdings. Speculation that Japanese banks are holding much of the subprime debt that has gone bad also added to the stronger yen tone – in the past, when Japanese investors suffer losses at home, they have tended to repatriate funds held offshore.

Outlook
The NZD remains broadly consistent with a 0.76-0.80 range, and we would favour buying on any dips toward the lower end of that range. Recent economic data has been surprisingly strong, greatly increasing the odds of a hawkish RBNZ at the March review – and the RBA’s confidence in warning of further rate hikes, when facing a similar offshore environment, should at least provide moral support. However, the case for a break above 0.80 is not convincing while global markets remain on edge; the recent flow of news from credit markets, where much of the recent market turmoil originated, has been nothing but poor.

Local data has been beating consensus forecasts at a pace that is difficult to maintain, not least because the market usually learns to shade up its forecasts by this point. We suspect that this week’s data will be less supportive, not least because it’s a ‘housing week’, with the usual industry reports on the sector that is genuinely in a downturn. The REINZ report (possibly tomorrow) tends to lead the more smoothed QV report, and the ‘days to sell’ measure is a good lead indicator of prices.

Upcoming Events
Date Country Release Last Forecast

12 Feb Aus Jan NAB Business Survey 17 n/f
US Feb IBD/TIPP Econ Optimism 43.2 45.0
Jan Federal Budget $bn 38.3 20.0
Fedspeak: Yellen
Ger Feb ZEW Analysts’ Survey –41.6 –45.0

UK Jan BRC Retail Monitor %yr 0.3% n/f
Jan CPI %yr 2.1% 2.4%
13 Feb NZ Q4 Producer Output Prices 1.6% 1.0%
Q4 Producer Input Prices 2.3% 0.5%
Aus Feb Westpac-MI Cons Sent –8.3% n/f

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (11 February)
• NZ Q4 HLFS Review (7 February)
• NZ Q4 Wages Review (5 February)
• 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)

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 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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15:30 US- EIA Crude
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