Morning Report Friday 11 April 2008
News and views
The New Zealand and Australian dollars were again sidelined overnight as the action was elsewhere. Stronger than expected Australian employment sent the AUD higher to 0.9340 yesterday afternoon, dragging the NZD back above 0.80 as well. But from there it was fairly narrow ranges for both currencies. Model-based traders were steady buyers of the NZD, taking it to a two-week high, but it failed to press on from there. The Government decision to block the Canadian bid for Auckland Airport sent the currency 20pts lower this morning.
The US dollar was weaker early in the overnight session, pressured by credit market concerns after investment bank Lehmans said that they had bailed out five of their money market funds. The euro benefited from the continued hawkish tone of the ECB, briefly hitting a new lifetime high of 1.5910. However, sentiment turned around after better than expected US jobless claims figures, and the USD made strong gains against the âsafe havensâ of the yen and the Swiss franc.
US initial jobless claims fell 53k to 357k reflecting the reversal of the prior weekâs surge in claims which reflected claims offices being closed the week before that, on Good Friday. The 4-week moving average is a better guide tothe trend and it is running around 376-378k, which is still indicative of ongoing labour market deterioration. Continuing claims rose even further, a sign that unemployment is on the rise.
The US trade deficit widened to $62.3bn. The trade deficit widened sharply in Feb, due to unexpected and surprisingly broad-based strength on the import side, which more than offset yet another solid export outcome. Recall that yesterday we saw that wholesale inventories jumped sharply. That could be related to this imports strength. It means that any upside risk from inventories to our 0.6% annualised forecast for Q1 GDP growth could be offset by weaker net exports.
ECB left rates on hold at 4.0% as expected. In his press statement ECB chief Trichet was a hawkish as ever, not seeing âsignificant signs of supply constraints on bank loans to households and non-financial corporationsâ. Our forecast of a June rate cut is still achievable, but the risks are now clearly skewed towards that not happening until Q3.
The Bank of England cut rates 25bp to 5.0%. The key line in the statement was that âthe disruption in financial markets could lead to a slowdown in the economy that was sufficiently sharp to pull inflation below the targetâ. We think this issue will dominate in coming months â the two previous rate cuts havenot been passed on to retail customers due to higher bank funding costs â and expect the Bank to cut rates at least a further 50bp to 4.5% before year end, notwithstanding a likely blip higher in inflation in the short term.
On the European data front, French industrial production rose 0.3% in February, and Italian industrial production fell 0.2%. Both results were stronger than expected, and continue the run of occasional âless weakâ news out of Europe. The UK trade deficit narrowed to ÂŁ7.5bn.
The poor data of recent weeks failed to land a knockout blow on the NZD, and with next weekâs news looking less threatening, we may see the currency continue to edge higher in the near term. But over coming months, we expect to see a sharp slowing in the activity figures, owning at least as much to domestic factors as to the turmoil offshore. Improved risk appetite may provide some bounces in the currency, but we would see these as opportunities to sell.
Michael Gordon, Market Strategist, Wellington, Ph: (04) 470 8266
With contributions from Westpac Economics and Westpac Strategy
Date Country Release Last Forecast
11 Apr US Mar Import Price Index 0.2% 2.2%
Apr UoM Consumer Sent (Prel) 69.5 69.0
Jpn Mar Corp. Goods Prices %yr 3.4% 3.5%
Eur Feb Leading Index 97.9 â
Can Feb New House Price Index 0.6% â
14 Apr NZ Feb Retail Trade
Aus Feb Home Loans 2.3% â
US Mar Retail Sales -0.6% 0.0%
Feb Business Inventories 0.8% 0.4%
Latest Research Papers/Publications
â˘ NZ Q1 CPI Preview (8 April)
â˘ NZ Q1 QSBO Review (8 April)
â˘ NZ Interest Rate Focus (8 April)
â˘ NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (7 April)
â˘ NZ Q1 Employment Confidence Index (1 April)
â˘ Falling net migration to New Zealand (1 April)
â˘ NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (31 March)
â˘ NZ Q4 GDP Review (28 March)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac
Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 incorporated in Australia (NZ division). Information current as at 11 April 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 Westpacâs 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. ÂŠ 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.