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Wednesday March 26, 2008 - 19:59:35 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report   Thursday 27 March 2008

News and views
The US dollar
fell for a second day against the other major currencies, though the moves were probably exaggerated by some large flows going through. A Middle East name was believed to have bought a large amount of euro, triggering stop-loss buying as it moved through 1.57, then did the same in the yen, sending USD/JPY firmly below 100. Weak US economic data and contrasting comments by central bankers supported the US dollar’s move lower. The NZD and AUD initially benefited from the weaker USD, but later gave back much of these gains to end the day little changed.

US durables goods orders declined by 1.7% in February. Aircraft orders were not as strong as expected, while core orders (i.e. ex defence and aircraft) fell 2.6% in the month. Moreover, shipments of core capital goods declined by 2.1% after a 0.4% fall in January. That suggests business equipment investment may have contracted in Q1. The detailed data showed a remarkably large 13.3% drop in machinery equipment orders. This could be partly an aberration, with the prospect of some reversal in March. Even so, we note that core capital goods have trended lower since September, with orders down 1.4% and shipments 2.0% lower over this period.

US new home sales continue to trend lower, falling 1.8% in February. However, the declines in December and January were scaled back a little, such that January sales were 2.2% higher than previously reported. The housing overhang remains substantial, with the supply of unsold stock holding at 9.8 months. Median prices actually rose in February, a move that is most likely just noise in the data. The fundamentals continue to place downward pressure on prices.

The German Ifo business confidence index unexpectedly rose for a third month in March, edging 0.7pts higher to 104.8. Current conditions have improved since December, up 3.4pts. Expectations have been resilient since December, but are down 4.8pts from last March. Notably, strong demand from emerging economies is supporting conditions for now. Euroland industrial orders also showed strength early in 2008, rebounding 2.0% in January after a 3.6% decline in December. Orders for machinery & equipment and for transport equipment bounced back in the month. Total orders are up 7.3% on a yearago.

ECB chief Trichet noted concern about the euro’s rise, but otherwise indicated that inflation is still the number one priority, and even went as far as urging people to be more confident about the economic outlook. BoE Governor King told Parliament that the MPC is more predisposed to cutting rates, but highlighted the balancing act the BoE faces between financial stability and inflation. In contrast, Dallas Fed Fisher, who dissented in favour of a smaller rate cut at the 18 March review, noted that the US is in for a long period of slow growth.

With US officials having already done a lot of ‘housekeeping’ in recent weeks, traders are starting to cast their eyes towards other parts of the world that may be vulnerable – in particular, those countries with persistent current account deficits, as offshore funding becomes harder to secure. In itself, that doesn’t suggest a significant risk around today’s current account figures for Q4 – we expect the deficit to improve from 8.3% to 8.0% of GDP. However, we suspect that the market will be increasingly inclined to sell into any rallies in the likes of NZD, AUD or GBP.

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

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Q1 Consumer Confidence (26 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (25 March)
• NZ Q4 GDP Preview (19 March)
• NZ Q4 Current Account Preview (19 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (17 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (10 March)
• NZ Agribiz March 2008 (12 March)

These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac
Institutional Bank’s website (

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Q4 Current Account NZDm s.a. –3,639 –3,160
Feb Merchandise Trade NZDm –320 –300
Aus RBA Governor Stevens Speech, 0910 AEST
RBA Financial Stability Review – –
Q1 Job Vacancies 6.0% –

US Q4 GDP (F) 0.6% 0.6%
Initial Jobless Claims w/e 22/3 378k 370k
Fedspeak: Stern, Pianalto, and Lockhart

UK Q4 Business Investment (F) –0.5% –0.5%
Feb BBA Lending Data £bn

alian Dollaw Zealand Dollar

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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