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Monday April 21, 2008 - 21:09:35 GMT
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Morning Report

Morning Report Tuesday 22 April 2008

News and views
New Zealand dollar was dragged higher by a resurgent Australian dollar, but remained broadly within its recent ranges. The AUD popped higher yesterday and continued on overnight, after producer prices rose by much more than expected, highlighting the extent of inflation pressures. The AUD traded as high as 0.9440, and is closing in on the 25-year high of 0.9498 set earlier this year. The NZD was more subdued at first, but spiked higher once it triggered stop-loss buying above the previous high of 0.7940.

The Australian PPI rose 1.9% in Q1, the largest gain in the ten-year history of the series. Higher food, fuel and building construction prices point to upside risks for consumer prices as well (released tomorrow), and we have revised our forecast for core CPI to 1.1% for the quarter. A strong CPI outturn is unlikely to prompt the RBA into raising rates next month, given that there are now clear signs that demand is moderating, but the data emphasises that rates will need to remain high for an extended period.

The US dollar softened against most of the major currencies, though another day with no major data left the market struggling to find direction. The flow of bad news from the finance sector continued to weigh on USD sentiment: Bank of America revealed lower than expected profits, with $6bn of credit writedowns, Ohio bank National City announced a $7bn capital raising, and a prominent analyst said that Citigroup may cut its dividend again.

Fed Governors Kroszner and Evans both steered clear of comments on monetary policy and the economy in speeches overnight. Kroszner discussed clarity in lending standards and standardisation aiding the subprime mortgage market, but said that the financial markets remained “bogged down by unease”.

The euro returned above 1.59 as ECB officials kept up the hawkish rhetoric. Liebscher reiterated his view that there is no room to lower interest rates, and Weber said that inflation remains significantly above the ECB’s comfort zone.

The Bank of England announced the details of a £50bn plan to free up UK credit markets. UK banks will be able to swap mortgage and credit card debt-backed assets for liquid Treasury bills, for periods of up to a year. As with similar facilities that have been recently introduced elsewhere, it’s far from free money: the BoE will charge a fee for the swap, and will provide government paper worth only 70-99% of the face value of the collateral, depending on credit quality. The market’s disappointment at these features took the edge off the pound, which had risen above 2.00 against the US dollar ahead of the announcement.

UK house prices fell 0.1% in April. The Rightmove house price measure slowed to 1.3% yr, in line with other private sector house price indices.

The relative economic picture argue that the New Zealand dollar should continue to underperform – the economy is now set for a sharp slowdown this year, owing at least as much to domestic factors as to the turmoil offshore, which is likely to be confirmed by the data over coming months. A substantial move lower against the US dollar is unlikely while the USD struggles to get any traction though. On balance the NZD still looks to be biased lower, but easing into short positions may prove to be the safer approach. Selling against other currencies such as EUR or CAD may prove more rewarding.

Thursday’s OCR review is the highlight of the week. While we won’t get a full set of forecasts this time around, Governor Bollard’s comments last week hint at how their view is evolving: they now see “a markedly weaker growth profile this year” as part of a cyclical adjustment, but with sound fundamentals and intense inflation pressures, which is much in line with our view. The ‘on hold’ bias will remain, but with an acknowledgement of the growing downside risks.

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

Upcoming Events
Date Country Release Last Forecast

22 Apr US Apr Richmond Fed Factory Index 6 –2
Mar Existing Home Sales 2.9% –3.0%
Feb House Prices –1.1% –1.5%
Can Bank of
Canada Rate Decision 3.50% 3.00%
23 Apr NZ Mar Electronic Card Transact’s –0.2% –
Aus Q1 Headline CPI %qtr 0.9% 1.1%
Q1 Avg RBA Core CPI %qtr 1.1% 1.0%
Jpn Mar Trade Balance ¥bn 598 890
Eur Apr PMI Manufacturing Adv 52.0 51.5
Apr PMI Services Adv 51.6 53.0

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Economic Overview April 2008 (21 April)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (21 April)
• RBNZ OCR Preview (18 April)
• NZ Q1 CPI Review (15 April)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (14 April)
• NZ Q1 CPI Preview (8 April)
• NZ Q1 QSBO Review (8 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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