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Thursday March 27, 2008 - 20:56:25 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report   Friday 28 March 2008


News and views

The New Zealand dollar was whipped around as the US dollar attempted a rebound, but held above 0.80 overnight. A slightly more positive tone to the US data helped the USD higher, but rumours of investment bank Lehmans filing for bankruptcy protection (later denied) and forecasts of further substantial writedowns for other banks saw the market turn back to equity-watching again. Overall, offshore markets remain thin and volatile, with investors reluctant to do much ahead of the end of the quarter,


The euro was knocked down to 1.5730 by a large sell order early in the London session, but quickly rebounded to 1.5820, helped by rumours that China Investment Corp are in negotiations to buy Dresdner Bank. The yen softened as the market geared up for the launch of a record number of Japanese offshore investment trusts over the next few days, which are seeking to raise around US$16.5bn. The pound initially gained on stronger than expected investment data, but gave back its gains later in the day.


US Q4 GDP was unrevised at 0.6% annualised, while the Fed may take some comfort from the core PCE deflator being downgraded to 2.5% from 2.7%. The details showed consumer spending upgraded a little, with spending on services revised to 2.8% annualised. This was largely offset by a slight scaling back of both business and government expenditure. There were also revisions to the two big movers in the quarter – net exports and inventories. The inventory drag was even larger at 1.8% annualised (vs 1.5% prelim) and the net export boost was raised to 1.0% from 0.9%. Net exports and inventories are both likely to add to growth in Q1, but other indicators have deteriorated since – in particular, payrolls, retail sales and durable orders have disappointed of late.


US initial jobless claims eased back 9k to 366k in the last week. That came as no surprise, with the week prior boosted by workers in the auto sector who indirectly lost their jobs because of strike action. Also, there were downward revisions to the last couple of weeks. Even so, the trend in claims is upwards. The 4wk moving average increased to 358k, up from 312k a year ago.


UK Q4 business investment was revised sharply higher to a 1.8% increase from a 0.5% fall. Recall that the originally reported 0.5% decline came as a surprise to the market which was expecting a 1% rise. The revision to business investment clearly increases the risk of an upgrade to Q4 GDP from the 0.6% estimate, due Friday.


The UK CBI retail survey was soft in March, with only a net 1% of retailers reporting higher sales. Expectations for April were downbeat at –3. These figures suggest that the surprising strength in official retail sales over Jan and Feb is unlikely to be sustained.



The US dollar’s bounce has run out of steam sooner than we expected, but with yields and the recent flows of news becoming relative more supportive for the USD, we’re not expecting another leg lower just yet. Locally, today’s Q4 GDP figures are likely to be solid – we expect a 0.9% gain with risks to the upside – but at the expense of growth in Q1, and other indicators suggest that data over the next few months will point to a ‘soft patch’ in the NZ economy in the early part of 2008. RBNZ Governor Bollard speaks this afternoon on the economy and monetary policy; the market will watch closely for anything to justify the early OCR cuts that are currently priced in.


Michael Gordon, Market Strategist, Wellington, Ph: (04) 470 8266

With contributions from Westpac Economics and Westpac Strategy


Events Today

Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Q4 GDP %qtr 0.5% 0.9%

RBNZ Governor Bollard Speech, Sydney

US Feb Personal Income/Spending 0.3%/0.4% 0.2%/0.1%

Feb Core PCE Deflator 0.3% 0.1%

Mar UoM Consumer Sentiment (F) 70.5 70.0

Jpn Feb Unemployment Rate 3.8% 3.8%

Feb National Consumer Prices %yr 0.7% 0.9%

Mar Tokyo Consumer Prices %yr 0.4% 0.4%

Feb Retail Sales %yr 1.3% 2.1%

Feb Household Spending %yr 3.6% 2.4%

Eur Mar Retail PMI 52.4 –

Ger Mar CPI %yr 2.8% 2.9%

UK Mar House Prices %yr 2.7% 2.0%

Q4 GDP (F) 0.6%a 0.6%

Q4 Current Account Balance £bn –20 –18



Latest Research Papers/Publications

• NZ Q4 Current Account Review (27 March)

• NZ Q1 Consumer Confidence (26 March)

• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (25 March)

These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac

Institutional Bank’s website (




Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 incorporated in Australia (NZ division). Information current as at 28 March 2008. 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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