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Sunday February 17, 2008 - 22:36:57 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Monday 18 February 2008

News and views
New Zealand dollar begins the week higher on the back of a broadly weaker US dollar. The NZD sagged below 0.7850 earlier on Friday, after retail sales figures for December suggested that rising food and fuel prices are starting to eat into household spending. Offshore investors were noted buyers overnight, sending the NZD back above 0.7900, though a small bounce in the US dollar early this morning took the NZD off its highs.

The Australian dollar also gained overnight, but there was more of a sense of being dragged higher by the NZD. The cross rate fell below 0.8700 after the retail sales figures on Friday, but it has yet to convincingly break out of its recent ranges, despite sharp swings in economic momentum and interest rates in the AUD’s favour.

The US dollar fell after manufacturing and consumer confidence plunged sharply in February. The normally up-beat NY Fed factory survey dropped from +9.0 to –11.7, with the orders, shipments and jobs indices all turning negative. On top of that, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index plunged from 78.4 to 69.6 (the lowest since 1991) in its preliminary reading, with both expectations and the current measure sharing in the weakness. These are surveys rather than hard activity data, but if they are to be believed, they point to an increased risk that the US economy is closer to recession than policy-makers are publicly admitting.

In contrast to the weak NY factory survey, the official industrial production figures for January rose 0.1%, pointing to continued modest growth, though weakness in autos meant manufacturing was flat. The other major data was a sharp 1.7% jump in import prices in January, partly due to oil prices, although a 0.6% rise in the ex-petroleum measure suggests that US dollar weakness might also be showing up in the data.

The pound went against the trend in the major currencies, falling from 1.9720 to 1.96 against the USD. The UK government nationalised troubled bank Northern Rock after deciding that the takeover bids from private companies were inadequate; however, the UK market remains plagued by speculation that there are more bank failures to come.

Canadian auto sales rose 4.8% in December, stronger than StatCan guidance that the rise would be 3%. The January guidance was for a strong outcome, though no number was given. However, manufacturing shipments plunged 3.4% for the month. The reading was compounded by auto plant shutdowns, but still indicative of factory sector exposure to the weaker US economy.

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.

Locally, it’s largely second-tier releases before the March MPS, though the market will still no doubt comb through these for any signs of weakness. Even then, this week is especially sparse, with credit card spending (Thurs) the only release of note. For now, we would treat the NZD as a 0.77-0.80 range trade, and buy on any dips toward the lower end of the range.

Upcoming Events
Date Country Release Last Forecast

18 Feb US President’s Day holiday
Jpn Dec Tertiary Index 0.1% -0.2%

UK Feb House Prices %yr 3.4% –
19 Feb Aust RBA Assist. Gov.
Edey Speech (09:30 AEDT)
RBA Minutes of Feb Meeting
Jan Merch Imports AUDbn 15.7 –

US Feb NAHB Survey 19 19
Fedspeak: Stern
Can Jan CPI %yr 2.4% 2.3%
Jan CPI Core %yr 1.5% 1.4%

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Q4 Retail Sales Review (15 February)
• 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 (
Michael Gordon,
Market Strategist, Wellington, Ph: (04) 470 8266
alian DollarZealand

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 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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