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Monday April 14, 2008 - 20:38:40 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Tuesday 15 April 2008

News and views

12 hours is a very long time in FX – after gapping higher across the board in Asia the USD has given back a decent chunk of its gains through European and US dealings. From lows around USD1.5670 in Asia, EUR/USD surged in offshore dealings to highs near USD1.5885. EUR has drifted back toward 1.5800 into the NY close but that still leaves it overall flat on the day – a very creditable performance in light of the meaningful change to the G7 statement on the USD over the weekend. Sovereigns look to have bid EUR up from the lows but its also clear that markets are sceptical the G7 will back their change in language on the USD with collective action (i.e. intervention). The USD’s fortunes were not helped by reports that more US commercial banks are set to announce significant write-downs when they announce their Q1 earnings later this week.

 

The New Zealand dollar struggled to regain topside traction though and begins the local session comfortably lower. NZD retook 0.7900+ levels through Northern Hemisphere trading as EUR was surging higher but struggled to form a beachhead above the figure. Net net, NZD finishes the day among the weakest G10 currencies in the last 24 hours. CPI due later this morning could be holding back the currency but with AUD similarly trading with a heavy overnight feel risk appetite, or a lack thereof, appears to have been the key factor. US financials were clear underperformers today and credit markets were weaker too.

 

There was little in the way of significant price action to speak of elsewhere. JPY was hemmed in a narrow (by recent standards) range of JPY103.35-101.20 in offshore trading while the US long bond yield closed 3bp higher and the Dow Jones finished 25pts lower.

 

US retail sales posted a modest but unexpected rise in March however the overall message from the data is of a faltering consumer. Auto sales rose in value terms in contrast to industry figures which showed the number of cars sold slipping in the month. Gasoline sales rose due to higher prices. Excluding these two factors, retailing was flat, in fact in the last four months retail ex auto/gas has managed only one gain, of just 0.1%. Hence in three month annualised terms, core retailing actually fell 0.3% in Q1, compared to gains of 4.3% in Q3 and 0.9% in Q4. These numbers are nominal, so will be lower after adjustment for inflation. This is an indication that Q1 consumer spending will be significantly weaker than the 2.3% real growth recorded in the Q4 national accounts – hardly surprising given the recent slump in consumer confidence.

 

Euroland industrial production rose 0.3% in February. Euroland industrial production looks quite a bit stronger thus far in Q1, despite January’s downward revision from 0.9%, compared to Q4 last year. Annual growth of 3.1% yr in February compares to just 1.7% yr at the end of 2007. Capital goods production remains the dominant sector, up 7.1% yr, compared to –0.7% yr for consumer durables production.

 

Outlook

The G7 statement has left little in the way of lasting imprint on the majors. After a wave of USD buying on Monday morning in Asia Northern Hemisphere markets took a more measured view with EUR/USD recouping all of its earlier losses. NZD however continues to have a heavy feel to it. EUR/USD rose about 200pts from its lows in Asia but NZD struggled to retake USD0.7900 and remains comfortably lower on the day. Risk appetite remains a problem for the NZD. Key US commercial banks report their Q1 earnings this weak and concerns about further large credit related write-downs continue to dog equities. NZ Q1 CPI will be the key focus today but we expect a print in line with consensus – 0.8% for the quarter. While the NZD has a heavy feel the currency has admittedly absorbed a lot of negative news on the NZ economy quite well in recent sessions. We suspect the trading it community is already short NZD and if anything we could see a bigger reaction to the topside if the CPI data prints on the high side. However, selling strength appears to be the way to go – overall risk appetite remains weak and the NZ economy is clearly slowing.

 

Michael Gordon, Market Strategist, Wellington, Ph: (04) 470 8266

With contributions from Westpac Economics and Westpac Strategy

 

Events Today

Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Q1 CPI %qtr 1.2% 0.8%

Mar Food Price Index 0.8% –

Aus Apr RBA Board Meeting Minutes

RBA Governor Stevens’ Speech

US Mar PPI/Core 0.3%/0.5% 0.5%/0.1%

Apr Empire State Index –22.2 –20.0

Feb Net Long-Term TIC Flows, USDbn 62.0 60.0

Apr NAHB Housing Market Index 20 19

Eur Apr ZEW Economic Sentiment –35.0 –33.0

Ger Apr ZEW Economic Sentiment –32.0 –30.0

UK Mar CPI %yr 2.5% 2.8%

Mar Core CPI %yr 1.2% 1.3%

Feb House Prices %yr 8.0% 7.4%

Mar RICS House Prices Net Balance –64.1% –67.0%

Mar BRC Retail Sales Monitor

 

Latest Research Papers/Publications

• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (7 April)

• NZ Q1 CPI Preview (8 April)

• NZ Q1 QSBO Review (8 April)

• NZ Interest Rate Focus (8 April)

These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac

Institutional Bank’s website (www.wib.westpac.co.nz)

 

Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 incorporated in Australia (NZ division). Information  current as at 15 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 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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