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Tuesday June 24, 2008 - 20:54:10 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Morning Report

Morning Report  Wednesday 25 June 2008

News and views
In an otherwise quiet session ahead of tomorrow’s FOMC announcement the USD gave back a portion of Monday’s gains overnight thanks to a plunge in US consumer confidence to 16 year lows. The Conference Board’s June Consumer Confidence index fell from 57.2 to 50.4 versus expectations for a more modest fall to 56.0 (see more details below), sending US 2 year bond yields down 10bp, EUR/USD up around 60pts while the Dow fell 100pts in the immediate wake of the data.

The New Zealand dollar was more subdued though with this week’s heavy slate of key data (Q1 GDP due Friday) keeping NZD trade tentative. The NZD was contained in a 0.7555/85 range through Europe before the weaker than expected US confidence data saw it jump to session highs just shy of 0.7600. NZD/AUD hit fresh 6 1/2 year lows, albeit marginally at 0.7938 as players jockeyed for positions ahead of widely expected soft NZ data this week. US bond yields continued to ease through US trading but US equities recovered to finish the day close to flat. The NZD starts the local session at 0.7586.

The Australian dollar continued to grind higher overnight, extending gains from Asia clocked in the wake of news that Rio Tinto/BHP secured 85% price rises for contracted Iron Ore for FY 2008. A softer USD also helped, as did AUD/NZD buying and persistent Japanese retail demand. From offshore opening levels just above 0.9520 the AUD hit fresh 11 days highs of 0.9586 before edging back toward 0.9550 into the close.

USD/JPY slipped 50pts in the wake of the softer than expected US consumer confidence data hitting lows near 107.35. But, with the Dow recovering 100+pts in short order USD/JPY duly recouped its losses as well to finish the offshore session close to flat at 107.80.

A minor short squeeze through Europe saw EUR/USD lifted from around 1.5520 to 1.5555/75 before the much weaker than expected US consumer confidence data saw EUR accelerate to 1.5620 highs. Yield support for the USD continued to fade through the day with US bond yields grinding lower into the close while US equities recouped all their losses to finish the day largely square. EUR took its cue from equities and finished the session back to pre-confidence levels around 1.5570 too.

US consumer confidence drops 7.7 pts to 50.4 in June. Over the past eleven months, it has fallen from a 6 year high to a sixteen year low. The present situation measure continued to drive the decline: over the past three months it has shed 26 pts vs just 8 pts for expectations. Labour market sentiment in particular has turned sour this year: in January, a net balance of 3% of respondents described jobs as plentiful; in June that had slumped to –16%. Although sharply higher gasoline prices were no doubt a factor behind the latest drop in confidence, inflation expectations did not rise further this month.

Two US house price measures for April found further weakness. Focussing on the S&P/C-S top 20 cities index, the monthly decline was less than 2% for the first time since Oct last year, nevertheless the annual rate continued to slide sharply, by 15.3% yr.

Both the factory and services/retail components of the Richmond Fed survey fell sharply in June, consistent with the renewed weakness apparent in the NY and Philly Fed surveys published earlier this month.

German consumer confidence (labelled July but surveyed in early June) fell to its lowest in over two years. Also, a French consumer spending gain of 2% in May looks solid but that only reversed the prior two months of decline, Indeed the level of sales in May was about unchanged from where it was at the end of 2007.

UK mortgage data very weak. The British Bankers’ Association reported just 28k new mortgages in May, down from 35k in April and 56% lower than a year earlier – further evidence of weaker demand for housing loans, and constrained supply. Industry-wide data (i.e. including building societies and other lenders) will be published by the Bank of England on 30/6.

Outlook
We continue to look for opportunities to sell into NZD/USD. This week’s keenly awaited Q1 GDP report, due Friday will be the first leg of confirmation that the NZ economy is in recession. Expectations for a contraction in Q1 GDP are widely held and that should keep the NZD subdued ahead of Friday. Short term strength ahead of GDP into 0.7630/50 should be sold. But, further meaningful downside for NZD is likely to prove tougher to come by if GDP fails to print on soft side of expectations.

 

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Q2 Consumer Confidence 96.5 –
US May Durable Goods Orders –0.5% –0.5%
May New Home Sales 3.3% –2.0%
FOMC Rate Decision 2.00% 2.00%
Jpn May Trade Balance ¥bn 609 413
May Corp. Services Prices %yr 0.5% 0.6%
Jun Small Business Confidence 42.2 –
Eur Apr Industrial New Orders –1.0% –0.8%

UK Jun House Prices %yr –4.4% –6.0%
Jun CBI Retail Survey –14 –20

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (23 June)
• NZ Q1 GDP Preview (19 June)
• NZ Q1 Current Account Preview (19 June)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (16 June)
• Always look on the bright side (12 June)
• NZ Q1 Terms of Trade (11 June)
• NZ Agribiz June 2008 (9 June)

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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