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Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 20:19:16 GMT
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FX Research - Morning Report

Morning Report Thursday 15 January 2009


News and views

More fuel for the negative sentiment prevailing – bleak US retail sales data, and a couple of large international banks warning of large losses and capital needs – hit the equity indices in the US and Europe hard. The S&P500 is down 4% as we write, and Europe closed 4% lower. Commodities, too, were knocked down: WTI crude oil -4%, copper -4%, foods -2%, and even gold -2% (which suggests across-the-board position unwinding). The VIX measure of risk-aversion rose 17% to 50, and marks a new wave of fear embracing financial markets. Credit downgrades are a highly visible indicator of the current malaise, and S&P added Greece to its list (cut to A-). News that Ireland may need IMF assistance was subsequently denied.


The NZD’s corrective rally ended just shy of 0.56 at Europe’s open, followed by a fast fall to 0.54 support, where it’s rested since NY open. That fall pushed the AUD/ NZD cross beyond the 1.22 level to almost 1.23, and 1.22.


Unlike the Kiwi, AUD/USD has not yet established a new 2009 low, with 0.66 holding after a fall from the 0.68 spike last night. That may change, of course, with the important employment figures released this morning.


While the EUR has changed little since this time yesterday, the volatility has been significant. A corrective rally ended during Europe’s morning at the 1.3340 level, followed by the poor data releases for Eurozone industrial production and German GDP, combined with the Irish comments, which drove it down to the 1.3090 level. It has been nudging resistance at 1.32 since.


GBP was relatively well behaved, ranging between support at 1.45 and 1.47, the strength likely driven by a large repatriation order. USD/JPY did dip below 89 briefly, but that level has held well since Monday; when it does break, it should provide solid resistance.


US retail sales plunged by 2.7% in December, even worse than the market expected, and there were downward revisions to previous months. Ex-auto sales were even weaker at -3.1%. Lower gasoline prices appear to have been a major contributor to both the December fall (sales were down 16% for the month) and the historical revisions. However, the weakness was widespread across sectors. Sales of building materials dropped 2.9%, while clothing and general merchandise fell by 1.6%.


US import prices fell by 4.2% in December, less than expected, though there were also downward revisions to previous months, particularly for petroleum. Ex-petroleum prices fell by 1.1%, partly reflecting the bounce in the US dollar late last year.


The Fed’s Beige Book was not surprisingly filled with anecdotes of weaker activity across the country. Retail spending was seen as weak, particularly during the Christmas holiday season, despite evidence of deep discounting. Most regions reported that credit conditions were tight or becoming tighter.


Eurozone industrial production fell 1.6% in November, bringing the annual rate of decline to -7.7%. National data for production and car exports point to a further decline in December, as global demand and confidence collapse.


German GDP growth was estimated to have slowed to 1.3% in 2008, implying that GDP may have shrunk by as much as 2% in Q4.



Our call for NZD this week has been to sell it on strength, and last night’s brief push up to almost 0.56 was one such example. We maintain that call, and any bounce to 0.55 today should be sold. The likely range today is 0.54 to 0.55, with 0.52 expected during the next 5 days.

Imre Speizer, Senior Market Strategist, NZ, Ph: (04) 470 8266

With contributions from Westpac Economics


Events Today

Country Release Last Forecast

Aus Dec Employment chg –15.6k –6k

Dec Unemployment Rate 4.4% 4.5%

RBA Monthly Bulletin

US Dec PPI/Core PPI –2.2%/0.1% –2.0%/0.1%

Initial Jobless Claims, w/e 11/1 467k 500k

Jan Empire State Index –25.76 –25.00

Jan Philadelphia Fed Index –32.9 –35.0


Jpn Nov Machinery Orders %mth –4.4% –10%

Dec Domestic Corp Goods Prices %mth –1.9% –0.5%

Eur Dec CPI %yr 2.1% 1.6%

ECB Rate Announcement 2.50% 2.00%


Latest Research Papers/Publications

• Change of OCR Call (14 January)

• NZ Q4 CPI Preview (14 January)

• NZ Q4 QSBO Review (13 January)

• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (13 January)

• NZ Q4 Employment Confidence Index (7 January)

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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