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Wednesday February 18, 2009 - 21:38:28 GMT
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Forex Research - Morning Report

Morning Report Thursday 19 February 2009


News and views

A consolidative evening session, with only residual weakness lingering from the earlier Euro-zone banking worries. US President Obama’s release of the US$275 billion mortgage-assistance plan was countered by weak US housing data, leaving most asset classes little changed. The S&P500’s session dip to 780, and failure to rebound above the key 800 level, targets the November low of 740. US Treasuries weakened on the funding consequences (adding to the US$2 trillion of new issuance in 2009) of Obama’s plan.


NZD managed to hold above the 0.5050 level, reaching around 0.5135 early Europe, in a quiet session for the currency. Consensus forecasts for New Zealand’s trading partners were revised lower again, and will weigh on the RBNZ, interest rates, and the currency.


AUD ranged from 0.6340 to 0.6430, which was surprising given the Moody’s report saying the major Australian banks’ ratings may be reassessed in light of the deteriorating outlook. That negative news was best expressed by AUD/NZD, slipping to the lower end of the 1.2470 to 1.2570 daily range.


EUR fell a cent during the European afternoon, from 1.2640, the lack of follow through attributed to option levels around 1.25 being protected. Apart from a brief dip to 1.41, the BOE minutes revealing a unanimous vote for future quantitative easing via gilts purchases, GBP hovered around 1.42 for most of the session. USD/JPY touched a technical level at 94, as the Topix banks index almost reached a 25-year low.


US housing starts plunge 16.8% in Jan. The recent string of three consecutive 15-16% monthly declines in housing starts has taken the total decline in starts from their early 2006 peak to 80% (the permits decline from their late 2005 peak is 77%). The regional data showed only small pockets where activity might be picking up, such as a 2.5% rise in singles starts in the West (after a cumulative 31% drop in the prior two months!). Unseasonally poor weather in the Midwest and northeast may have weighed on starts somewhat.


US industrial production down 1.8% in Jan. The industrial production data showed yet another steep decline, exactly in line with Westpac’s –1.8% forecast, mirroring those falls seen right across the world in recent months now that global trade is grinding to a halt. Auto production slumped a massive - wait for it - 23.4% but there were broad-based declines across most of the industrial spectrum with the exception of defence and utilities.


UK CBI industrial survey found much weaker orders and slightly softer expectations for output and prices over the next quarter in its second survey for 2009. Data like these imply that Q1 GDP could contract at an even faster pace than Q4’s –1.5% (which we expect will itself be revised lower).


The minutes to the Bank of England’s February meeting, when rates were cut by 50bp to 1.0%, showed another 8:1 vote with the dissenter, David Blanchflower, once again voting for a steeper cut (of 100bp to 0.5%). As discussed at length at last week’s quarterly BoE press conference, quantitative easing is on the table (though not necessarily at a zero interest rate): “it seemed likely that the Committee would want to consider a range of asset purchases in due course... financed by the creation of central bank money”.



The past two days of ranging between 0.5060 and 0.5140 were preparation for a downside break, which we should see in the next 24 hours.


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

With contributions from Westpac Economics


Events Today

Country Release Last Forecast

Aus Jan Motor Vehicle Sales 1.8% –0.5%

RBA Monthly Bulletin, 11:30am

US Jan PPI/Core –1.9%/0.2% 0.0%/0.1%

Initial Jobless Claims w/e 21/2 623k 620k

Jan Leading Index 0.3% –0.2%

Feb Philadelphia Fed Index –24.3 –30.0

Fedspeak: Lockhart

Jpn BoJ Target Rate Decision 0.10% 0.10%

Jan Nationwide Dept. Store Sales %yr –9.4% –

UK Jan PSNCR £bn 44. 27.7

Jan Money Supply M4 %yr 16.1% 15.7%

Can Jan Leading Indicators –0.6% –0.6%


Latest Research Papers/Publications

• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (16 February)

• NZ Q4 Retail Sales Review (13 February)

• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (9 February)

• NZ Q4 HLFS Review (5 February)

• NZ Q4 LCI and QES Review (2 February)

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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