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Wednesday April 23, 2008 - 20:44:48 GMT
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Morning Report

Morning Report Thursday 24 April 2007

News and views
New Zealand dollar continued to grind higher, trading as high as 0.8030 overnight. Real money accounts were noted buyers, and profit-taking on the NZD/AUD cross provide further support. However, a pickup in the US dollar took the NZD back below 0.80 by this morning. The market appears to be positioned long ahead of today’s OCR review, which suggests some vulnerability on the downside to a more dovish statement.

The Australian dollar surged to a 24-year high after inflation printed well above expectations. The headline CPI rose 1.3% in the March quarter, lifting the annual rate to 4.2%, while the RBA’s core measures also rose to an average rate of 4.2%. In the past, these kinds of numbers would have prompted an RBA rate hike next month, but with a substantial amount of tightening already in place, and signs that domestic demand is slowing, the RBA likely to remain on hold for now. Even so, interest rate markets have written off the chance of rate cuts, and now give a 30% of another hike this year.

The US dollar started out weaker after bond insurer Ambac reported a larger than expected loss, due to credit writedowns and a lack of new business. Minor economic data didn’t help – mortgage applications fell 14% in the last week as long-term interest rates surged higher. However, the euro was eventually punished for its inability to push beyond 1.60, and by further attempts by European officials to hose down the idea that the next move in rates by the ECB could be up.

Euroland factory PMI was quite a bit slower in April (50.8 vs 52.0), but the services PMI was a little stronger (51.8 vs 51.6), and given the latter’s larger weight, the composite PMI also edged up marginally, to 51.9. With the composite index starting the second quarter a little higher than where it was in early Q1, this is another example of European business surveys bottoming out after steep losses in 2007.

European industrial orders have also fared OK since declining sharply in late 2007. Annual orders growth accelerated from 2.2% yr in December to 9.9% yr in February, with transport equipment (including Airbus passenger jets) one of the big turnaround factors. In contrast, French consumer spending slowed sharply in two stages through Q1, with the March decline especially broad-based but led by textiles and autos. This result will weigh down French Q1 GDP growth but we still expect Euroland GDP growth to have accelerated from Q4’s 0.4% (data due 15/5).

The minutes to the April Bank of England meeting showed a 3 way split vote 2:6:1. Two outside members favoured no change, six voted for the 25bp cut and one wanted an immediate 50bp cut. Also the BBA reported that the number of new mortgages approved in March was 35.4k, the lowest in almost a decade, and down from over 100k per month at the peak earlier this decade.

Canadian retail sales fell 0.7% in February, their first fall since September last year.,Auto sales were a clear drag on the total, but ex auto sales also declined, down 0.3%, led by clothing and household goods. This is a soft monthly report, although annual growth of 5.7% yr (total) and 5.6% yr (ex auto) remains solid for now.

The Swedish Riksbank left rates unchanged at 4.25%. The statement reiterated that
“A repo rate of around 4.25 per cent over the coming year will contribute to bringing inflation back towards the target of 2 per cent”, a strong signal that the Riksbank does not currently envisage tightening rates again this cycle.

The Norwegian central bank lifted its key rate 25bp to 5.5%. The statement noted that “higher interest rates will contribute to a gradual decline in capacity utilisation, so that inflation does not become too high.” Nut it did not preclude further possible tightening later this year.

With the New Zealand economy set for a sharp slowdown this year, owing at least as much to domestic factors as to the turmoil offshore, the NZD is likely to lag among the major currencies. However, that underperformance is more likely to be reflected in the non-USD crosses, with the US dollar still struggling to get any traction even with the market now anticipating an end to the Fed easing cycle. A softer tone in today’s OCR review would undermine the NZD in the short term, but we suspect the RBNZ is still further from cutting rates than current market pricing would suggest.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ RBNZ OCR Review 8.25% 8.25%
US Initial Jobless Claims w/e 12/4 372k 380k
Mar Durable Goods Orders –1.1% –1.0%
Mar Help Wanted Index 21 20
Mar New Home Sales –1.8% –5.0%
Jpn Mar Corp. Services Prices %yr 0.7% 0.7%
Feb All-Industry Activity Index flat –0.5%
Eur Feb Current Account €bn sa –10.6 –
Ger Apr IFO Business Climate Index 104.8 104.0
UK Apr House Prices %yr 1.1% flat
Mar Retail Sales 1.0% 0.3%
Apr CBI Industrial Trends Survey 7 9
Can Bank of
Canada Monetary Policy Report

 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)

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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