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Monday May 19, 2008 - 22:56:10 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Tuesday 20 May 2008

 

News and views
Local holidays through much of Asia
left currency markets thin and uninspired yesterday, and this tone continued through the overnight session. The US dollar dipped to a two-week low against the euro but failed to push on, and a slightly better than expected US leading indicator saw the market trim back short USD positions. The focus has turned to the minutes of the 30 April Fed meeting (due Thursday), with the market looking for further guidance as to whether the Fed is ready to end its easing cycle.

The US leading index rose 0.1% in April – stronger than the consensus form a small fall, but that was because last Friday’s housing permits were much stronger than expected. Equities and the yield curve were also strongly positive contributing components, while the workweek and consumer expectations were big drags. Still, with the leading index now up slightly for two months running after a string of five consecutive falls, this might be consistent with the economy ‘bottoming out’ at some point later this year or early next.

The New Zealand dollar initially picked up along with the euro, reaching a high of 0.7770, but dropped back later in the day as the USD recovered. The Australian dollar held to a narrow range above 0.95, leaving the cross to continue to trade either side of 0.81. Both currencies appear constrained in the short term by traders defending option positions around current levels.

US interest rates ended the day slightly lower, despite the slightly improved data, a positive day for equity markets, and oil prices holding near record highs above $127/barrel. The Fed held another auction for one-month funding, in contrast to rumours that the term would be extended to three months, which would have helped to further reduce the funding premium in short-term interest rates.

UK house prices rose 1.2% in May. Or did they? The Rightmove index is based on asking, not selling prices. And with ‘gazundering’ now raising its ugly head (the buyer refusing to complete the previously agreed sale without a hefty price discount), it is far more likely that the myriad other UK house price indices based on selling prices are a more accurate reflection of what is going on. And they are showing prices falling both monthly and in annual terms.

Outlook
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 the major currencies overall. However, we suspect this will be more clearly captured through the non-USD crosses – the US dollar’s recent rebound has been unconvincing, driven by dubious pricing for Fed rate hikes by year-end. Closer to home, the fact that lenders are passing on lower funding costs to customers is also significant, as it counters a fairly widespread view that the RBNZ will need to cut rates hard and fast to get any traction. Along with a relatively light data calendar this week, this should give the NZD a chance to take a breather from its decline. However, we would still view any move above 0.78 as a better opportunity to sell.

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

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Apr External Migration ann. 4,678 4,624
Aus RBA Minutes of May Meeting
Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Ken Henry speaks

US Apr PPI 1.1% 0.6%
Apr PPI Core 0.2% 0.2%
Jpn Bank of
Japan Meeting 0.50% 0.50%
Mar Tertiary Activity Index –1.7% 0.5%
Ger May ZEW Economic Sentiment Survey –40.7 –44.0
Apr PPI %yr 4.2% 4.8%
Can Mar Wholesale Sales –1.8% –

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (19 May)
• Housing equity withdrawal and its impact (16 May)
• NZ Budget 2008 Preview (15 May)
• NZ Q1 Retail Sales Review (15 May)
• NZ Interest Rate Focus (13 May)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (12 May)
• NZ Q1 HLFS Review (8 May)

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 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 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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