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Sunday December 14, 2008 - 22:16:36 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report  Monday 15 December 200


News and views

Fears that the US Senate’s rejection, on Friday, of a bailout of the US auto industry, would initiate a new phase of global credit contraction was responsible for a sell-down of risk-currencies on Friday around the NZ close. Commodity currencies fared badly, and the main Asian and European equity indices were down around 5% and 3%, respectively. By the start of the US session, markets calmed down, and the news that some of the bank bailout money may be used for the auto bailout saw the S&P500 close up 0.7%. US data releases; retails sales, PPI, and consumer sentiment; were no worse than expected, and neutral on the day for currencies.


The NZD’s rise on Friday afternoon, to around 0.5550, was abruptly checked by the auto news, and by early Europe, had lost 1.3 cents. After soothing noises on alternative bailout routes, the panic subsided, and at 0.5460 in early NZ, looks to continue recovering Friday’s losses.


The AUD fared slightly worse than the NZD on Friday night, losing 2.4 cents to a low of 0.6490, but is recovering at the NZ open to around 0.6640. The NZD/AUD rose and fell during the volatility, largely unchanged at around 0.8240.


 Interestingly, the USD against a basket of currencies (the dollar index) did not rise during the panic, the second time last week that the USD failed to assert its safe haven status. The EUR was unscathed by the panic, and maintained its recent 1.33 to 1.34 range. The JPY behaved in true safe-haven fashion, and gained around 3% before fear of BoJ intervention pushed it back above 91.


US retail sales down 1.8% in Nov. Retail sales posted another steep fall, weighed down by weak auto sales and the ongoing price-driven slump in the value of sales at gas stations. But core retailing (excluding those two components) unexpectedly posted its first gain for three months, though that was mostly offset by downward revisions worth 0.3 ppts to the prior two months.


The 3.8 pt rise in the UoM sentiment measure in Dec, reflecting a near 12 pt surge in the current assessment of the economy, is surprising. We suspect the continued sharp fall in gasoline prices, captured by lower inflation expectations, is the driving factor behind the improved result.


US PPI fell 2.2% on sharply lower energy prices in Nov, with wholesale gasoline prices down around 25% in both October and November. Food prices were unchanged and core prices edged up 0.1%, matching their softest gain for the year so far due in part to falls in both auto and light truck prices. Falling intermediate and input prices point to further disinflationary pressure from the industrial sector heading into 2009. Note that the headline PPI annual rate in November was just 0.4% yr, down from 9.9% yr in July, four months earlier!.


Euroland industrial production down 1.2% in Oct. Following very weak IP data out of France, Italy and Germany, it was no surprise that Euroland industrial production fell sharply again in October. It has fallen in five out of the past six months and the 5.3% yr annual pace of decline is the weakest since 1993. And finally, something to worry the European Central Bank: Euroland labour costs accelerated sharply from 2.8% yr to 4.0% yr in Q3, their highest since before the euro was introduced in 1999. It remains to be seen whether the weaker labour market feeds through to lower costs in coming quarters.


Canadian auto sales fell 0.9% in October, in line with guidance that sales “edged down”; StatCan guidance for November was more specific: they indicated that sales fell “about 7%”.



The NZD should continue its pre-auto-panic rise today, and march back towards 0.5550, with 0.5420 guarding the downside. Today’s economic releases (services performance, manufacturing activity) are not market-movers.


Upcoming Events

Date Country Release Last Forecast

15 Dec NZ Q3 Real Manufacturing Sales –1.0% –1.5%

US Dec NY Fed Factory Index –25.4 –30.0

Oct TIC Data $bn 66.2 40.0

Nov Industrial Production 1.3% –2.0%

Dec NAHB Housing Market Index 9 7

Jpn Q4 Tankan Large Manufacturers –3 –23

Q4 Tankan Non-Manufacturing 1 –9

UK Dec House Prices %yr –7.1% –8.0%

16 Dec Aus Q3 Dwelling Starts –3.7% –5.0%

RBA Board December Minutes

US Nov CPI/Core –1.0%/–0.1% –1.5%/flat


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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