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Wednesday August 13, 2008 - 21:31:09 GMT
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Forex Blog - Morning Report

Morning Report  Thursday 14 August 2008

News and views
USD/majors seesawed in London/NY, struggling with lukewarm US retail sales, equity losses and a bounce in oil prices to ultimately only post convincing gains against GBP. By late NY, cable sat about 3 cents lower (1.8700 area) as markets digested the BoE’s dovish/pragmatic quarterly report. NYMEX oil futures leapt $2/bbl to $115.70/bbl on news of the largest weekly decline in gasoline inventories since Oct 2002 then extended to above $117 before easing to the low $116s by late NY. Most financial stocks fell heavily as the DJIA opened lower and stayed negative throughout. The New Zealand dollar traded wide ranges, wandering from 0.6918 to 0.7001 in London then driving up to 0.7040 in late NY.

The Australian dollar followed a similar pattern, rallying late as yen crosses recovered. AUD/USD traded as low as 0.8637 in London but sat nearer 0.8755 in NY.

EUR/USD had a very whippy offshore session, but finished NY about where it left Asian trade, around 1.4920.

USD/JPY drifted in the high 108s then pressed up to 109.50 as carry trades enjoyed some NY afternoon buying.

US retail sales fall 0.1% in July, weighed down by a further decline in auto sales, whichm shaved 0.5 ppts off the July growth pace. Back revisions (June higher but April lower) were mostly offsetting. Ex auto sales rose 0.4%, with higher gasoline prices contributing just 0.1 ppts of that. Hence our preferred measure of core retailing, ex autos & gas, was up just 0.3% in July, and the gradual downtrend in the rate of growth of this measure from 1.1% three months prior is a fairly clear indication that the impact of the tax rebate cheques (posted between late April and July) is already starting to fade.

US business inventories rose a solid 0.7% in June despite a fall of 0.1% in the retail component. But with much of the increase due to energy prices (which lifted wholesale stocks 1.1% in June) there are no real implications for Q2 GDP revisions. Also, Import prices rose 1.7% in July with the survey capturing the early month peak in oil prices, although the weak US$ at the time was also apparent in the 0.7% rise in non-fuel import prices. From August, import prices should start to fall as lower oil prices and the stronger dollar begin to impact.

Japanese Q2 GDP weaker than expected at -0.6%qtr. That compares to the revised 0.8% rate recorded in Q1. There are a number of downside surprises in this release. Residential and non-residential investment both declined, with the former result being contrary to the momentum of recovery from last year’s policy induced dip. Public investment was brutally weak at -5.2% in the quarter (-19.3% saar) pushing overall public demand down 0.2ppts. Private consumption was down 0.5%, subtracting 0.3ppts. Exports were pretty close to our expectations but import volumes were stronger, leaving a zero contribution, down from +0.4ppts in Q1.

The UK jobs market continues to soften. Unemployment has now posted back to back 20k+ gains for the first time since the early 1990s recession; the household survey jobless rate jumped 0.2 ppts for only the second time this decade; earnings growth slowed for the third month running; and employment growth in Q2 slowed to just 20k from 159k in Q4 last year and 117k in Q1.

The Bank of England’s quarterly inflation report showed the CPI rising further in the short-term but then falling to a little below the 2% target in two years’ time, and continuing to fall further beyond that. This is on the basis of market rate expectations for about flat rates prior to the report. The Bank’s central projection for growth is for it to fall to 0% yr in the first half of 2009 (i.e. stagnation) and BoE Governor King openly acknowledged the prospect of a technical recession in the press conference (“one or two negative quarters are a possibility”). He ascribed downside risks to the growth outlook but upside risks to the below target inflation forecast. Markets immediately moved to price in lower BoE rates. Westpac’s view is that the BoE could cut rates as soon as September, depending on the data flow in the meantime.

Given New Zealand’s better than expected Q2 employment data last week, we cut half our short NZD TWI position and suspect the greater gains short term could be through short NZD/USD.

Westpac Strategy, 0800 922 239
With contributions from Westpac Economics

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast

Aus Aug MI Consumer Inflation Expect’s 5.9% –
Aug WBC–MI Unemploy. Expectations 3.2% –
Q2 Full-Time AWOTE %qtr 1.1% –
US Jul CPI/core 1.1%/0.3% 0.3%/0.2%
Initial Jobless Claims w/e 9/8 455k 450k
Jpn Jun Tertiary Activity Index –0.2% –0.3%
Eur Q2 GDP 0.7% –0.3%
Jul CPI (F) %yr 4.1% a 4.1%
Ger Q2 GDP 1.5% –1.0%

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (11 August)
• NZ Q2 HLFS Review (7 August)
• NZ Q2 Wage Review (4 August)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (4 August)
• The coming employment downturn (30 July)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (28 July)
• RBNZ OCR Review (24 July)

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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