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Monday March 31, 2008 - 21:21:43 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Tuesday 1 April 2008

News and views
The
New Zealand dollar was weaker again overnight, slipping from 0.7950 before finding support below 0.7850. The sharp fall in yesterday’s business confidence survey encouraged real money accounts to add to their short NZD positions, and selling out of Asia was also noted, despite the launch of several new investment trusts that tend to invest a portion in NZD.

The  Australian dollar also traded heavy, though it did outperform the NZD, with the cross rate falling to a three-week low of 0.86. Commodity prices were weaker across the board, with ‘soft’ commodities hit particularly hard, but gold and oil were down sharply as well.

The euro benefited from higher than expected CPI figures, briefly attempted a run at its lifetime high of 1.59 before pulling back below 1.58. The yen was inevitably dominated by financial year-end flows, with a large USD/JPY buy order pushing it back above 100 at the start of the Tokyo session. The pound rode on the euro’s short-lived bounce but otherwise struggled.

The Chicago PMI business barometer rose to 48.2 in Mar, up from a six-year low of 44.5 in Feb. This reinforced a general pattern amongst regional surveys – that while they were negative in Mar they were not as negative as in Feb. The national manufacturing ISM, to be released tomorrow, may thus prove more resilient than the market expects (market expectation of 47.5 vs 48.0 in Feb). The Chicago PMI showed that new orders advanced after two months of decline (53.9 in Mar vs 48.8 in Feb) and that production was broadly stable at 50.4. Employment was weak at 44.6 but up from an extreme of 33.5 in Feb. However, the order backlog continued to deteriorate (36.8 vs 38.3 in Feb) and inventories are being scaled back (42.0 vs 46.0 in Feb). The Milwaukee PMI fell into line with the picture of a contracting manufacturing sector, with the index down 6pts to 47 in Mar.

Euroland CPI accelerated to 3.5%yr in Mar, the fastest pace in almost 16 years, boosted by higher food and energy prices. With inflation trending higher (up from 1.8% in mid-2007) and well above the 2% target, the ECB will remain concerned. This argues against an imminent rate cut. We don’t expect the ECB to start cutting rates until June. The good news is that the spike in inflation is likely to be temporary. Notably, core inflation remains steady and at 1.8% in Feb was fractionally below the 12mth average of 1.9%. Detailed CPI data for Mar will be released on 16 Apr.

Euroland M3 growth moderated to 11.3% in Feb, down from a peak of 12.4% in Dec. Loan growth to the private sector also moderated a little, easing to 10.9% in Feb from 11.1% last month. Even so, for the ECB, both M3 and loans are expanding at a relatively strong pace.

The European sentiment surveys covering the household and business sectors were mostly steady in Mar. Consumer confidence held at –12, which compares with –2 in mid-2007. Although business confidence held at 0, prospects for future production continued to moderate, easing 2pts. By contrast, past production rebounded 3pts. The business climate index showed some resilience in Mar, edging up from the Feb low to be at 0.80. That still represents a moderation from conditions at the end of 2007, when the 3mth avg was 0.93 and from mid 2007, when the index was tracking at 1.42. The outlook, in our view, is for more subdued growth as the various negatives impact (US slowdown, tighter credit conditions, rising energy costs and appreciating euro).

Outlook
The New Zealand dollar is increasingly coming under fire as the economic outlook softens. The positives of dairy cash, fiscal stimulus and the tight labour market will still provide support for the economy over the year, but a lot of the negatives are converging all at once. The key data over the next few weeks – more confidence surveys, and house sales – are unlikely to turn market sentiment around. And with the RBNZ indicating that rate cuts are still a distant prospect, the path of least resistance is a weaker currency. The ongoing weakness of the US dollar is the main barrier to a substantial move lower in NZD.

 

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

Aus RBA Policy Announcement 7.25% 7.25%
US Mar ISM Manufacturing 48.3 48.0
Feb Construction Spending –1.7% –1.2%
Mar Vehicle Sales 15.4M 15.3M
Jpn Q1 Tankan Large Manuf. 19 15
Q1 Tankan Large Non–Manuf. 16 12
Eur Mar PMI Manufacturing (F) 52.0a 52.0
Feb Unemployment Rate 7.1% 7.1%
Ger Mar Unemployment change ‘000 –75k –45k
UK Mar PMI Manufacturing 51.3 51.0
Can Feb Industrial Product Prices 0.9% 0.8%

 

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (31 March)
• NZ Q4 GDP Review (28 March)
• NZ Q4 Current Account Review (27 March)
• NZ Q1 Consumer Confidence (26 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (25 March)
• NZ Q4 GDP Preview (19 March)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac
Institutional Bank’s website (www.wib.westpac.co.nz)

Australian Dollar
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 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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