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Monday March 17, 2008 - 20:45:33 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report   Tuesday 18 March 2008

 News and views
New Zealand dollar traded lower through the Monday night session,,m,as European and US investors digested the news from the Asian session – Fed discount rate cut and JP Morgan-Chase takeover of Bear Stearns. Investors across all asset classes have been spooked by the Fed’s actions and news that JP Morgan has bought Bear Stearns at a 93% discount to their Friday close. However, the slide was stemmed to a degree by a reasonable performance on Wall Street where the Dow closed +25pts, having been down more than 200 in the futures market before the cash market opened. For now global market themes and resultant risk aversion are dominating near term NZD direction.

The Australian dollar was also lower through the Monday night session with global risk appetite dominating its direction as well. Having posted a new low for this move down of 95.77 during the Asian session, USD/JPY was more subdued overnight tracking around 97 for most of the evening. Similarly, after EUR/USD posted a new lifetime high of 1.5905 in Asia it was broadly sideways to down overnight.

US industrial production surprised on the low side, with a 0.5% decline in Feb. The manufacturing sector deteriorated, with output down 0.2% after a flat Jan. By contrast, the ISM survey was not quite as soft, with the production component at 50.7 in Feb. In the auto sector, production fell for a second month, down 1.0% after a 1.6% drop. The business equipment segment is now losing momentum, up just 0.1%. Utilities fell back 3.7% after a 2.2% burst in Jan. Capacity utilisation, not surprisingly, eased in Feb.

US NY Empire State headline was weaker than anticipated. The general business conditions index plunged to –22 in Mar, the lowest reading in the almost seven year history of the survey. This is a sharp transformation from Jan, when the NY region was more upbeat than the national picture. Of some comfort, the survey detail in Mar was not as bleak as the headline index. While shipments declined for the second month, new orders contracted at a slower pace and the employment component rebounded into positive territory.

US TIC data showed a slow down in foreign buying of US assets, particularly by the private sector. Foreigners bought net $37.4bn in US assets in Jan, down from $72.7bn in Dec. The net flow was less than expected, and was inadequate to cover the $58.2bn Jan trade deficit. Net private purchases dropped to –$38.2bn from $21bn in Dec, while net official purchases rose to $75.5bn from $51.7bn. As the US share market fell for a third month in Jan, overseas investors sought the relative security of US government bonds.

US Q4 current account deficit was smaller than expected, at $172.9bn. That represented a narrowing from a $177.4bn deficit (revised from $178.5bn). Notably, payments to foreigners on their US investments dropped by $13.8bn.

NZD direction remains dominated by sentiment towards the US dollar and global risk sentiment. Through most of last week US dollar sentiment looked to be heading ever lower helping NZD/USD reach its new post float high on Friday night. For now it looks like risk aversion is heading the other way suggesting NZD/USD should track broadly lower through the week.

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

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (10 March)
• NZ Agribiz March 2008 (12 March)
• NZ Q4 Terms of Trade Review (11 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (10 March)
• RBNZ MPS Review (6 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (3 March)

These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac

Institutional Bank’s website (

Upcoming Events
Date Country Release Last Forecast

18 Mar Aus RBA Minutes of March Meeting
US FOMC Meeting 3.0% 2.5%
Feb Housing Starts 1012k 990k
Feb Building Permits 1061k 1030k
Feb PPI/Core 1.0%/0.4% 0.4%/0.2%
UK Feb CPI –0.7% 0.8%
Feb CPI Core %yr 1.3% 1.4%
Can Feb CPI/Core –0.2%/0.1% 0.3%/0.3% 19
Mar NZ Feb Electronic Card Transact 0.6% –
Aus Jan Leading Index %6mth ann. 4.7% –
Feb Merch Imports, AUDbn 16.9 –


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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