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Tuesday August 19, 2008 - 21:26:31 GMT
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FX Blog - Morning Report

Morning Report  Wednesday 20 August 2008

News and views
The US dollar remained in favour in early overnight trade, with the US July PPI even higher than expected. But equity losses extended, ultimately pulling the USD lower, about -0.7% from the NY morning highs. Financials came under renewed pressure, with nerves over ex-IMF chief economist Rogoff’s latest comments, arguing that “the worst is yet to come”, including bank failures and saying shareholders of the mortgage agencies “should lose all their money.” A squeeze higher in oil and gold prices also didn’t help the USD.

The New Zealand dollar tracked firmly higher in offshore trade, to as high as 0.7154 in the NY afternoon. The kiwi’s performance against the other majors suggests some profit-taking on long-held shorts.

AUD/USD chopped around 0.8640 to 0.8695 in London, then squeezed a little higher in NY in sympathy with the euro. NZD/AUD strengthened due to the firm kiwi, steadying around 0.8190 in late NY.

EUR/USD looked underwhelming in European trade, ranging from 1.4638 to 1.4710 before its short-covering squeeze sent it to 1.4790.

USD/JPY looked fairly soggy throughout London trade, slipping below 110.00 and showing little inclination to rally, given the Dow Jones opened 70pts lower and got worse.

US PPI jumped 1.2% in July, reflecting the tail end of the commodity price boom but also unexpected strength in core factory price pressures, as well as core input and intermediate prices. The surprise was the 0.7% jump in the core measure. It reflected a 1.4% jump in auto prices charged to dealers, and 0.8% for light trucks (which might help explain why auto sales are slumping), a 0.1% rise in clothing prices, and a way above trend 0.8% increase in capital equipment prices (which make up nearly 40% of the core rate). Even though the headline PPI will be falling sharply from next month, if these core pressures persist, recent above trend rises in the core CPI might persist too, and that will be of particular concern to many at the Fed.

US housing starts/permits down 11%/18% in July. The double digit falls in housing starts and permits were as expected. Recall that a July 1 building code change in NY saw developers scramble to get building approved and commenced before that date. Hence multiple starts/approvals in the northeast rose 103%/115% in June and fell 30%/63% in July. Activity will have been pulled forward not just from July but from August and beyond too so we should expect ongoing weak headline data in the months ahead. But abstracting from this distortion, single family starts and permits (not impacted by the code change) fell to yet new multi-decade lows in July.

German ZEW improves from –63.9 to –55.5 in Aug. The ZEW expectations survey of German analysts and economists posted a partial bounceback in August, which we suspect reflects the recent depreciation of the euro, the less hawkish ECB, lower oil prices and the gains on the stock market over the past month. But the current measures continued to tumble, consistent with the fall in GDP growth we saw in Q2 and may well see repeated in Q3.

The trend in the NZD should be flat to slightly higher over the near term, with a quiet domestic calendar and some help from trimming of NZD shorts after recent NZ data beat the gloomiest scenarios. We are neutral on the NZD TWI.

Upcoming Events
Date Country Release Last Forecast

20 Aug Aus Jun Leading Index % ann’lsd 2.1% –
Jpn Jun All-Industry Activity Index 0.4% –0.9%

UK Aug Bank of England Minutes 1:7:1 –
Jul PSNCR £bn 9.2 –4.3
Jul Money Supply M4 %yr 11.4% 10.7%
Aug CBI Industrial Trends Survey –8 –
Can Jul Leading Index flat 0.1%
Jun Retail Sales 0.4% 0.6%
21 Aug NZ Jul External Migration ann. 4,700 –4,600
Jul Credit Card Transactions –0.7% –
Jul Electronic Card Transactions –0.6% –
Aus Aug RBA Bulletin

Latest Research Papers/Publications
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (18 August)
• NZ Q2 Retail Sales Review (15 August)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (11 August)
• NZ Q2 HLFS Review (7 August)
• NZ Q2 Wage Review (4 August)

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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