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Monday May 12, 2008 - 00:03:32 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Monday 12 May 2008

News and views
New Zealand dollar continued to fall against all of the major currencies over the weekend. Investor risk appetite was kept in check by fresh rumours of losses in the financial sector and another surge in crude oil prices to $126/barrel. The NZD slipped below 0.77 against the US dollar, and continued lower as the trade-weighted index fell through key support around 69.0. A weaker US dollar later in the New York session helped the NZD to recover back to 0.7690, but it remained on its lows on a TWI basis.

The Australian dollar fared better, recovering some of the ground lost after Friday’s RBA Statement on Monetary Policy. While core inflation has risen further since the last statement, the RBA forecast that it will return to the target range via a sharp slowdown in domestic demand. However, offshore trades still see a tightening bias, suggesting that they don’t believe the RBA’s soft growth forecasts.

The US trade deficit narrowed to $58.2bn in March, due to a steeper fall in imports than exports. Imports fell by $6.1bn, and were weak across the board, led by oil (down $2.5bn, despite higher prices), and autos (down $2.1bn, probably due to the GM strike). With most other import categories also recording declines, it seems that weak domestic demand is starting to have an impact on the data. The exports decline of $2.6bn was mostly explained by autos (down $1bn due to that strike) and aircraft (down $1.5bn but volatile around a rising trend). With many US trading partners in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East still growing strongly, and the US dollar super competitive, we expect export growth to resume in short order. The deficit was also lower in real terms (down $3.7bn) which could be enough for the net exports estimate to add up to 0.5 ppts to annualised GDP growth when the Q1 data are revised. But recall that wholesale inventories also fell sharply (possibly related to the weaker import picture) so that will provide some offset.

French industrial production fell 0.8% in March, its first fall in four months, adding weight to our view that the Euroland economy began to lose some momentum at the start of the current quarter.

Canadian employment rose 19k in April. Jobs continue to grow, although at a slower pace than earlier this year. In April, government jobs and self-employment were the main drivers, while private sector jobs fell 8k though the trend there is still solid. Unemployment rose a little further to 6.1% because of ongoing gains in participation; the participation rate held at 68.0% which is at an all-time record high. Meanwhile, the Canadian trade surplus widened again to C$5.5bn in March, with the strike in the auto sector impacting more on auto imports (down 11%) than exports (down 5%). Energy continued to boost the export side, although the 6.6% increase was entirely due to prices, not volumes. Indeed in real terms the surplus was little changed, so the implications for GDP growth are minimal.

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. NZ interest rates now have the steepest implied easing track among the major economies, a profile supported by weak economic data and the RBNZ’s recent dovish statements. However, this underperformance is more likely to be captured against a basket of currencies, with the US dollar still struggling to rise convincingly against the higher-yielding currencies in particular.

Locally, the main event this week is the retail sales figures for March (Thursday). Electronic card transactions point to a small fall for the month, continuing the weak trend. However, general price increases over the March quarter were not as high as for fuel and food, meaning that at least some of the nominal growth in spending in Q1 was due to a rise in volumes – we expect a 0.4% gain for the quarter.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Apr REINZ House Prices %yr 1.6% –
Aus Aus Mar Housing Finance (no.) –5.9% –4.5%
US Apr Federal Budget $bn 177.7 160.0
Fedspeak: Evans and Lockhart
Jpn Apr Bank Lending %yr 1.1% 1.1%
Apr Economy Watchers Survey 36.9 –
UK Mar Trade Balance €bn –7.5 –7.5
Apr PPI Output Core %yr 3.1% 3.2%
Can Mar New House Prices 0.3% –

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Q1 HLFS Review (8 May)
• ETA of ETS delayed (6 May)
• Q1 Wage Review (5 May)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (5 May)
• Q1 labour market preview (1 May)
• NZ housing demand/supply balance (28 April)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (28 April)
• RBNZ OCR Review (24 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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