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Friday June 13, 2008 - 00:30:57 GMT
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FX Blog - Morning Report

Morning Report Friday 13 June 2008

News and views
The USD continued to muscle its way higher across the board sending the New Zealand dollar down 0.5% in overnight trade. From early offshore highs of 0.7541 the NZD traded down to 0.7481 lows. The USD opened offshore trading on the front foot, boosted by a mix positives including falling oil prices, rumours that US retail trade data later in the day would print on the strong side and earlier news that Belgium Brewer InBev made $46.3bn offer for US based Budweiser. The Philly Fed’s Plosser made a compelling case for the inflation hawks and said that it is “certainly clear that rates will have to rise”, adding to the USD demand. US retail sales did not disappoint beating already elevated expectations with a 1.2% rise ex-autos and sending US 2 year notes up 18bp on the day. The NZD hit its session lows in the immediate wake of the US retail data but option barrier interest around 0.7480 contained further downside. Ahead of NZ retail sales today the NZD is trading a touch above its session lows at 0.7500.

The Australian dollar extended its slide following the softer than expected employment data. Amid broad USD demand the AUD traded down a further 0.4% through the offshore session to a low of 0.9331, its lowest levels since mid-May.

USD/JPY broke up through 108.00 on USD strength, the first time it has regained the 108 handle since late February. A break above 108.75 would take the pair to its highest level since early January.

EUR/USD lurched from just below 1.5500 opening levels overnight to 1.5380 session lows. Falling oil prices and surging US bond yields continues to weigh on EUR sentiment. In afternoon US trading a major US investment bank caused a stir revising its Fed Funds forecast, calling for the FOMC to lift rates 25bps in Sep 2008 and to 3.75% by the end of 2009. The ECB Bulletin overnight cemented expectations for an ECB hike in July. Oil prices rose USD5/bbl in afternoon NY trade to finish the day square but EUR paid little attention. We wouldn’t overstate it but concerns that the Irish will vote “no” in a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty have perhaps weighed on EUR to the extent the results highlight political divisions in the region. Results will be results tomorrow.

US retail surge 1% in May. Retail sales data for May were much stronger than the weekly reports through the month suggested would be the case. Also, upward revisions to March and April added a further 0.9 ppts to the retail headline, meaning the level of sales in May was 1.9% higher than what was originally reported for April. Of the 14 major storetypes, only one recorded a decline (miscellaneous) compared to, for example, 8 out of 14 back in Feb. Thanks to the upward revisions and May strength, core retailing posted a 6.8% annualised gain in the three months to May, its strongest read since 7.1% in May-July last year. The obvious plausible factor behind this retail strength is the tax rebate cheques which would have given households who have submitted their tax returns $1000 or more cash to spend since late April. As the data stand, they mean that consumer spending will make a bigger contribution to Q2 GDP growth than we thought likely, almost certainly ensuring another positive quarterly growth outcome.

US initial jobless claims up 25k to 384k. The labour market continued to weaken in late May/early June. The Memorial Day holiday a few weeks back may have heightened recent volatility in initial claims but continuing claims rose to fresh 4+ year highs, consistent with rising unemployment which we believe will ultimately weigh against the prospect that retail strength might persist.

US import prices posted another steep energy-driven rise in May of 2.3% although ex fuel, the gain was muted at 0.5% relative to March and April’s 1% gains, perhaps reflecting recent US$ stability after the steep depreciation seen earlier this year.

US business inventories started Q2 with a decent 0.5% rise, reflecting a 0.4% gain at retailers despite two consecutive months when auto dealer retail stocks have fallen, on top of previously reported flat factory and 1.3% higher wholesale stocks ion April.

Fedspeak: The Philly Fed’s Plosser has been on the warpath today, claiming it is “certainly clear that rates will have to rise”. He voted against the full extent of the last two rate cuts, along with the Dallas Fed’s Fisher.

Euroland industrial production up 0.9% in April. The factory sector enjoyed a solid start to Q2, consistent with recent national data. This news can only add to the building case that the ECB acts on its “heightened alertness” and tightens rates in July.

Retail sales data out later this morning looms large for the NZD. After a weak Mar, impacted by the timing of Easter, we expect to see a decent 1% rebound, although the underlying trend is expected to remain weak. NZD losses this week have been limited primarily to the USD axis but sentiment toward the currency remains generally poor since last week’s dovish RBNZ assessment. We continue to advocate a case for broader losses. We continue to target a test of 66 for the NZ TWI.

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 Retail Sales –1.2% 1.0%
Aus RBA Governor Stevens speech
US May Consumer Price Index 0.2% 0.4%
May CPI Core 0.1% 0.2%Jun UoM Consumer Sentiment 59.8 57.0
Jpn Bank of
Japan Meeting 0.50% 0.50%
Eur Q1 Unit Labour Costs %yr 2.7% 2.9%
Can Apr Manufacturing Shipments –1.6% –0.4%
Q1 Labour Productivity –0.8% –0.2%

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• Always look on the bright side (12 June)
• NZ Q1 Terms of Trade (11 June)
• NZ Agribiz June 2008 (9 June)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (9 June)
• RBNZ MPS Review (5 June)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (3 June)
• RBNZ MPS Preview (29 May)

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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