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Wednesday April 2, 2008 - 20:11:26 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Thursday 3 April 2008


News and views
New Zealand dollar made modest gains overnight, as traders moved back into risk-seeking mode for the start of the new quarter. European and Asian equity markets rose, following on from yesterday’s sharp gains in the US, helping to boost the high-yield currencies against the US dollar and the yen. The NZD was whipped around by selling against the AUD, but ended the day around 0.79. The AUD recovered its losses from the softer RBA statement earlier this week, reaching 0.9150 this morning.

The euro gained against the USD but was weighed down by official comments. EU sources said that Eurozone finance ministers will voice their concerns over the euro’s recent gains at the G7 meeting next weekend – though this has been a recurrent threat ahead of recent meetings. The IMF has cut its forecast for Eurozone growth for this year from 1.8% to 1.3%.

The US dollar softened after Fed chairman Bernanke’s testimony to Congress. His comments on current conditions were downbeat, acknowledging that the US economy may be in recession. Bernanke expects “activity to strengthen in the second half of the year ... and growth is expected to proceed at or a little above its sustainable pace in 2009” as housing activity stabilises. “However, in light of the recent turbulence in financial markets, the uncertainty attending this forecast is quite high and the risks remain on the downside”. Bernanke downplayed inflation risks, noting that core inflation has edged down recently after firming somewhat late last year. He also revealed that Bear Stearns advised the Fed that it would have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The US ADP private sector payrolls estimate rose by 8k against expectations of a 45k fall. We caution that month to month the ADP is not a great predictor of the official figures – it has tended to overshoot a long way in recent months – but it adds to the risk that payrolls on Friday night could be better than expected (the current median forecast is -50k).

US factory orders were weaker than expected, declining by 1.3% in Feb after a 2.3% drop in Jan. Non-durables fell by 1.5% against our expectation of a broadly flat outcome.

Euroland producer prices rose by 0.6% in Feb, bringing the annual rate to 5.3% from 5.0% in Jan. That is a sharp acceleration from 2.7%yr in Sep, largely (but not entirely) because of higher energy prices.

UK new housing loans eased to 73,000 in Feb, from 74,000 last month. That was close to the lowest since records began in 1999. Lending secured on housing stayed at £7.4bn in Feb. These figures highlight the impact of banks tightening lending standards and the failure to pass through the BoE’s rate cuts. The construction PMI slumped in Mar, dropping 5.2pts to 47.2, with new orders at 48.9.

There has been a subtle but important shift in FX markets in recent days – currencies are increasingly trading on their own news, and less so as proxies for global growth / risk aversion / etc. That may not mean much for the New Zealand dollar in the near term, with no major data releases until the QSBO survey next Tuesday. But it is crucial for the broad US dollar, with some key data in coming days, including the non-manufacturing ISM (Thurs) and payrolls (Fri). Our data ‘surprise’ index suggests that market forecasters have become more pessimistic and are now more vulnerable to upside surprises, even if the data is still soft in absolute terms. The risk is for a sustained US dollar bounce in coming weeks, which would weigh on the NZD accordingly.

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

Upcoming Events
Date Country Release Last Forecast

3 Apr NZ Mar ANZ Commodity Prices 0.9% –
US Mar ISM Non-Manufacturing 49.3 49.0
Initial Jobless Claims, w/e 29/3 366k 372k
Eur Mar PMI Services (F) 51.7a 51.7
Feb Retail Sales 0.4% 0.2%

UK Mar PMI Services 54.0 53.3
4 Apr Aus RBA Governor Stevens appearance,
Feb Retail Sales flat 0.2%

US Mar Non-Farm Payrolls chg –63k –30k
Mar Unemployment Rate 4.8% 5.0%

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Q1 Employment Confidence Index (1 April)
• Falling net migration to
New Zealand (1 April)
• 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)

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 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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