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Thursday December 11, 2008 - 19:46:06 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report Friday 12 December 2008


News and views

The USD fell by around 2% against major currencies last night, after some awful  data: US jobless claims rose alarmingly, and the US trade deficit widened further. What was unusual last night was the USD being punished, rather than risk currencies and equities, as has been the case for the past few months. US and European equity indices were largely stable, but commodities performed well: Brent crude oil up 8%, gold up 2%. Another central bank cut rates: the Swiss National Bank, by 50bp.


Thanks to the weak USD, the NZD continued its domestic rally overnight, and finally broke the 0.55 level, after several earlier attempts this week. It didn’t quite reach 0.56, and is consolidating around 0.5520 during early Wellington time.


The AUD performed best among the majors, gaining around 2 cents to a high of around 0.68 at noon N.Y. time. Unwinding of short-NZD/AUD positions continued until around midday Europe, to slightly above 0.83, followed by a quick fall back to the 0.82 area.


EUR’s path was one-way, to a high of 1.34 area, and was the next best performer last night. It was only natural for USD-refugees to buy JPY, the pair mapping out a new trading range of 91 to 92.


US trade deficit widens to $57.2bn in Oct. The trade deficit widened in October because exports fell away more sharply than imports. Export weakness was broad-based across all categories except telecoms equipment (civilian aircraft dropped a further 28% due to the Boeing strike). Imports were patchier, with a majority of categories lower but apparel, pharma, food and oil all posting unexpected large gains. The oil gain was due to a sharp increase in import volumes, up from 339mn to 414mn barrels, though prices were lower consistent with the import price data for October. The November import price data point to another steep negative for imports (especially if oil volumes drop again) but with export prices also falling sharply as the US$ appreciates, it is not clear that the trade deficit will narrow. After adjusting for price changes, the real deficit widened by 10%, confirming that net exports are no longer making a solid contribution to GDP growth.


US initial claims up 58k. The sharp jump in initial claims, up to 573k in the week prior to the December non-farm payrolls survey, was dwarfed by the 338k surge in continuing claims (a measure of the level of unemployment) to 4429k, which was the biggest one week gain for decades (if not ever). We always need to be careful interpreting these figures in the vicinity of public holidays (the Thanksgiving long weekend was in the prior week). But as the data stand they suggest that there has been a material increase in lay-offs and consequent joblessness that might be reflected in an even steeper loss of payrolls jobs in December than November’s 533k drop.


UK CBI industrial survey was not weaker in December but remained at very depressed levels, both in terms of activity and prices.


Canadian trade surplus C$3.8bn in Oct. The narrower trade surplus reflected imports rising at a faster pace than exports, with the weaker C$ a key driving factor. Separately, Canadian new house prices fell 0.4% in October, their first monthly decline this decade – another sign that the housing sector is slowing and the economy is probably entering recession.



The firm NZD tone continues today, with yesterday’s 0.55 resistance becoming today’s support level. Above that, 0.5580 should cap action today, unless retail sales data at 10:45am contains a surprise.


Events Today

Country Release Last Forecast

NZ Oct Retail Sales 0.1% 0.0%

US Nov PPI/Core –2.8%/0.4% –2.5%/0.1%

Nov Retail Sales –2.8% –2.5%

Nov Retail Sales Ex Autos and Gas –0.5% –0.5%

Dec UoM Consumer Sentiment 55.3 53.0

Oct Business Inventories –0.2% –0.2%

Jpn Nov Consumer Confidence 29.8 –

Eur Q3 Labour Costs %yr 2.7% 2.8%

Oct Industrial Production –1.6% 0.3%

Can Q3 Capacity Utilisation 78.9% 78.3%

Oct Auto Sales 2.5% –1.0%


Latest Research Papers/Publications

• NZ Q3 Terms of Trade (10 December)

• NZ Agribiz December 2008 (9 December)

• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (8 December)

• RBNZ MPS Review (4 December)

• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (1 December)

• RBNZ MPS Preview (28 November)

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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