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Wednesday April 9, 2008 - 21:53:54 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Thursday 10 April 2008

News and views
In a reversal of the previous night,
the NZD and AUD were generally rangebound against the US dollar, while the action was in the other major currencies. The NZD was weighed down by corporate selling yesterday, but once this was cleared the currency managed to catch a bid back to 0.7980. The AUD fell after a 1.3% drop in the Westpac consumer confidence survey (which is now at its lowest in nearly 15 years) and struggled to hold any moves above 0.93.

The US dollar lost ground against the relative ‘safe havens’ of the Swiss franc and the yen, after the IMF released its latest semi-annual World Economic Outlook (though some of the details had already filtered out). The IMF sees a 25% chance of a global recession, and called for policy-makers in the US to respond further to the housing slump, and for the ECB to cut interest rates. The euro itself wasn’t troubled by this call though, punching up from the low 1.57s to as high as 1.5860, and trading above 0.80 against the pound for the first time. The ECB is expected to remain hawkish at tonight’s press conference, while the Bank of England may deliver a 25bp rate cut.

US equities finished down slightly for a second day, and US Treasury yields fell about 10bp, as credit market developments ensured that investor risk appetite remained subdued. Several US investment banks reported an increase in their hard-to-value ‘Level 3’ assets, which is seen by some as a precursor to further significant writedowns as they report earnings over the next few weeks. On top of this, crude oil traded above $112 for the first time after a fall in US inventories.

US wholesale inventories rose more than expected. Inventories rose 1.1% in February and were revised up by 0.5% in January. The latest monthly gain was broad-based, reflecting more than just rising gasoline prices, although we suspect that some of the gain will have been involuntary (i.e. wholesalers failing to on sell product to retailers, who in turn are experiencing weak sales to households). Still, if tomorrow’s trade data do not show a matching jump in imports in February, then we will need to revise up our 0.6% annualised forecast for Q1 GDP. That said, the fact that negative GDP growth might be avoided simply because stuff is being made, but no-one is buying it, is hardly cause for celebration.

UK manufacturing surprised to the upside in Feb, rising 0.4%, and January was revised a little higher too. This keeps intact Q1’s more positive factory story in the official data, in contrast to mostly depressed business surveys. Softness in mining output meant total IP grew a little less quickly than manufacturing. This result, along with up-beat retail reports for the first two months of this year mean that a rate cut from the Bank of England tonight, while looking increasingly likely, is not yet a done deal.

Fed Governor Kroszner, addressing the House Financial Services Committee, did not comment on the outlook for monetary policy, although he did say that banks might consider cutting their mortgage rates and reducing loan principals for stressed mortgage-holders, in preference to foreclosures.

There’s a fair amount of news to keep the market occupied over the next week. Today we have the REINZ house sales report for March – while this is widely expected to be weak, the NZD has been remarkably resistant to weak data recently. We also have Australian employment, where another rise in jobs may be offset by a rise in the unemployment rate. The anticipated decision on the Canadian bid for Auckland Airport, and an update on Fonterra’s payout forecast tomorrow, provide a couple of wild cards for the currency to round out the week.

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

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

Aus Apr MI Consumer Inflation Expect’s 4.6% –
Apr WBC-MI Unemployment Expect’s 3.6% –
Mar Employ/Unemployment 36.7k/4.0% 25k/4.0%
US Fed Trade Balance USDbn –58.2 –57.5
Initial Jobless Claims, w/e
Apr 5 407k 410k
Mar Mthly Budget Statement USDbn –96.3 –70.8
Jpn Feb Machinery Orders 19.6% –13.0%
Mar Bank Lending %yr 0.8% 0.8%
Feb Current Account ¥bn 2075 1800
Eur ECB Meeting 4.00% 4.00%
UK Feb Visible Trade Balance, £bn –7.5 –7.5
BoE Rate Announcement 5.25% 5.25%
Can Feb Trade Balance, CADbn 3.3 3.3


Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Q1 CPI Preview (8 April)
• NZ Q1 QSBO Review (8 April)
• NZ Interest Rate Focus (8 April)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (7 April)
• NZ Q1 Employment Confidence Index (1 April)

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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