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Monday April 7, 2008 - 21:08:32 GMT
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Morning Report

Morning Report  Tuesday 8 April 2008

News and views
New Zealand dollar rose against all of the major currencies overnight, as traders took the stabilisation in global credit markets as an opportunity to re-enter risk trades. With some central banks now easing rates, there are fewer currencies than a year ago that qualify as ‘carry’ trades, and as a result the gains

were largely limited to the NZD and AUD. The NZD rose from a low of 0.7870 yesterday afternoon to peak at around 0.7980. US equity markets also made a strong start, but gave back all of their gains by the end of the day, which saw the NZD ease off its highs.

Today’s QSBO survey may claw back the currency’s overnight gains, as the headline measure is likely to be very weak, in line with recent monthly surveys. However, the RBNZ will be particularly interested in the indicators of domestic inflation pressures – capacity utilisation, overtime worked and difficulty finding labour – which were close to record highs in Q4. Cost expectations and pricing intentions are also worryingly high given the strength of the currency; if the NZD were to fall suddenly – and that is a possibility in the current environment – inflation could become a serious problem.

The Australian dollar reached a three-week high of 0.9280 but lagged against the NZD. Weak Australian job ads and a larger than expected trade deficit weighed on the AUD yesterday, taking it as low as 0.9180. Overnight the AUD clawed its way back to 0.9280, but still lagged the NZD by nearly 0.5%.

The other major currencies were subdued, with no US data overnight and key events later in the week. The minutes of the 18 March Fed meeting, released tomorrow, will make for interesting reading, given that the market has drastically cut back expectations of Fed easing, and is now looking for little more than another 25bp cut. The G7 meeting this weekend will continue to generate headlines from European officials about the euro’s recent gains, though there seems to be little enthusiasm elsewhere for a stronger statement on currencies.

US consumer credit was $5.2bn in February, some $0.7bn lower than analysts expected. However, January was revised up from $6.9bn to $10.3bn. Debit cards and home equity loan, as well as refinancing-related paydowns, have explained fairly dampened consumer credit in recent years.

German industrial production rose 0.4% in Feb, against forecasts of a 0.4% fall. The strong January read was revised down to +1.4%. The biggest boost over the past couple of months has been the construction sector, which has benefited from a milder than normal German winter.

With quarter-end funding pressures out of the way, and a range of new liquidity measures in place, a relative calm has descended on financial markets, allowing a greater focus on the economic news. This comes at a time when our data ‘surprise’ index is telling us that market forecasters have reached a point where, on balance, they are more likely to be surprised on the upside, even if the data is still soft in absolute terms. That doesn’t guarantee that any particular piece of data will beat forecasts, as Friday’s payrolls figures demonstrate, but it does argue that the risks over the next few weeks are skewed towards more USD-supportive news.

That renewed focus on economic data is likely to weigh against the NZD, with the economy facing a soft patch in the first part of this year. The NZIER business opinion survey (today), and housing figures for March (due in the next week or so) are likely to play into that view, but the generally patchy data calendar over the next few weeks means that confirmation of a slowdown will be slow in coming. Improved risk appetite may provide some bounces in the meantime, but these should offer better opportunities to sell.

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

Upcoming Events
Date Country Release Last Forecast

8 Apr NZ Q1 NZIER Business Confidence –26% –
US Feb Pending Home Sales flat 1.5%
Apr IBD/TIPP Econ Optimism 42.5 41.5
FOMC Minutes of Mar 18 Meeting – –
Jpn Mar Economy Watchers Survey 33.6 –
Can Mar Housing Starts, ‘000 256.9 229.0
9 Apr Aus Apr Westpac-MI Cons Sentiment 88.6 –

US Feb Wholesale Inventories 0.8% 0.5%
Fedspeak: Fisher
Jpn Bank of
Japan Meeting 0.50% 0.50%
Eur Q4 GDP (F) 0.4% 0.4%

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (7 April)
• 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)

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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AA JP- Bank of Japan
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