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Thursday February 14, 2008 - 19:51:23 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Friday 15 February 2008

News and views
The
New Zealand dollar bounced back above 0.7900 overnight, reclaiming all of the ground lost against the Australian dollar yesterday. Model-based traders were steady buyers of the NZD through the night, taking it to just short of 0.7920, before a weak open in US equity markets took the edge off its gains.

The Australian dollar broke above 0.90 yesterday after yet another month of strong jobs growth and a new 34-year low in the unemployment rate. Further stop-loss buying emerged around 0.9030 and 0.9050, but there was little followthrough and the AUD ended up range-trading overnight. Speculators still appear to be short the AUD (and the NZD), on the view that it is only a matter of time before slowing growth in the northern hemisphere catches up with this part of the world – regardless of the evidence that growth generally remains strong.

Fed chairman Bernanke’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee saw the market ease back on rate cut expectations. He indicated that he expects the economy to avoid a recession but grow only very slowly in the first half of this year, followed by a somewhat stronger pace of growth starting later this year as the effects of monetary and fiscal stimulus begin to be felt. He reiterated that the Fed “will act in a timely manner as needed to support growth and to provide adequate insurance against downside risks”, but refrained from repeating the lines he used ahead of January’s unscheduled rate cuts. That is, there was no mention this time around of “substantive additional action”. That suggests that the Fed will ease again, but most likely will stick to the regular meeting schedule, barring any unforeseen downside shocks.

The US dollar gained against the euro and yen after the US trade balance turned out better than expected. The trade deficit narrowed sharply to $58.8bn in December, as export strength, led by a 33% jump in civilian aircraft and strength in other capital goods categories and also consumer goods, contrasted with a subdued imports picture. The result is good news in that the net export contribution to Q4 GDP will be revised higher; but the imports breakdown provides yet further confirmation of the sluggish state of business investment and consumer spending heading into 2008.

Euroland GDP grew 0.4% in Q4, just beating our 0.3% forecast, an outcome made all the more decent given the news earlier this week of very soft industrial production at the end of the year. No detail is available with this advance report, but at the margin, given that there was some downside risk, it would seem that the prospect of a near-term rate cut from the ECB may have diminished slightly. ECB council member Weber maintained the hawkish commentary, noting that inflation risks are “clearly pointing upward”, and are not accurately reflected in market pricing (currently for three 25bp rate cuts by year-end). That said, leading indicators point to even slower growth in early 2008, and we still expect an ECB move by mid-year.

Outlook
Wobbly credit markets have kept investors on edge in recent weeks, and we suspect this has been the main barrier to a break higher in the New Zealand dollar. With investment banks heading into the earnings reporting season, there is the potential for more worrying news in coming weeks, even after the ‘big bath’ writedowns that many took in the previous quarter. Demand from local exporters and Japanese investors, and the residual appeal of yield spreads that continue to reach record highs, are likely to provide support within recent ranges.

Retail sales (today) are likely to be flattish for December, with food and fuel price increases accounting for much of the growth in the quarter. That aside, it’s mostly second-tier releases before the March MPS, though the market will no doubt comb through these for any signs of weakness. For now, we would treat the NZD as a 0.76-0.80 range trade, and buy on any dips to the lower end of the range.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Q4 Real Retail Sales 0.2% 0.3%
Dec Retail Sales 2.0% 0.0%
US Jan Import Prices flat 0.2%
Feb NY
Fed Empire State Index 9.0 5.0
Dec Long Term TIC Flows $bn 90.9 69.0
Jan Industrial Production flat 0.2%
Feb UoM Consumer Sentiment 78.4 80.0
Fedspeak: Mishkin
Jpn Bank of
Japan Decision 0.50% 0.50%
Eur Dec Trade Balance €bn sa 2.7 2.5
Can Dec Auto Sales –2.9% 3.0%
Dec Manufacturing Shipments 1.1% –0.1%

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• The rules have changed (14 February)
• NZ Interest Rate Focus (12 February)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (11 February)
• NZ Q4 HLFS Review (7 February)
• NZ Q4 Wages Review (5 February)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (4 February)

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

Major Currenciesstralian Dollarealand Dolla

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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