continues decoupling from the safe-haven group, weakening
about 3% in the past 24 hours. This was the notable feature of an evening
session where risk was bought across asset classes, and suggests a growing
focus on the vulnerabilities of Asian economies. Japanese officials yesterday
said the state may buy equities to prop up the market, fearing a Nikkei fall
below 7000. Elsewhere, the Fedâ€™s Bernanke testimony contained nothing new, and the
debates over bank nationalisation and buying treasuries continue. ECB comments
hinting at rate cuts to near-zero levels and quantitative easing were more
noteworthy. Credit markets are slowly becoming the main headline grabbers, Latvia downgraded
to BB+, and Lithuania, Estonia, and India put on
negative watch. Sovereign and bank credit spreads blew out another 5%. Technical
buying of downtrodden US equities
saw the S&P500 bounce 3%, banks up a massive 13%. Oil rose 4% and copper
+6% during this bounce.
NZD broke out of
its narrow overnight 0.5050 to 0.5150 range on the early morning surge in risk.
Todayâ€™s RBNZ inflation expectation report should be weaker than previous, but
unlikely to be market moving.
between 0.6420 and 0.65 last night, until a late surge in the S&P500 pushed
it to 0.6525. AUD/NZD remained stuck between 1.26 and 1.27.
EUR calmed down
from yesterday, 1.27 to 1.2850 containing the action, but threatening to break
higher today. USD/JPY was the standout currency pair, rising around 3% to 97
overnight, speculative flows building.
consumer confidence plunges to 25 in Feb. The CB index collapsed 12.4 pts
to a new record low in February, with expectations slumping 15 pts and the current
measure down 8 points. In line with the other regional Fed surveys, the Richmond factory
index failed to sustain its modest January gain in February. It fell from â€“49
to â€“51. Its retail and services components were also weaker this month. Mixed
US house price news. House prices fell 2.5% in December on the preferred S&P-CS
measure, but rose 0.1% on the less closely watched government (FHFA) measure.
Ben Bernanke presented the Fedâ€™s semi-annual monetary policy report to the
Congress. He reiterated the latest FOMC quarterly projections (previously
provided in the January FOMC minutes), with the caveat that â€śthis outlook for
economic activity is subject to considerable uncertainty, and I believe that,
overall, the downside risks probably outweigh those on the upsideâ€ť however â€śif
actions taken by the Administration, the Congress, and the Federal Reserve are
successful in restoring some measure of financial stability--and only if that
is the case, in my view--there is a reasonable prospect that the current recession
will end in 2009 and that 2010 will be a year of recovery.â€ť.
Ifo business confidence dipped slightly to 82.6 from 83.0 this month to
a new 26 year low. A 2.5 pt decline in the current assessment (consistent with the
steep contraction in Q4 GDP) was mostly offset by a less pessimistic view of the
outlook. Also, European industrial orders posted another steep 5.2% decline in
Dec, their fifth consecutive fall; but one source of resilience was French consumer
spending at the start of the year uip 1.8% in Jan.The Euroland current account
ended the year with a â‚¬7.3bn deficit in December, for a full-year 2008 deficit
of â‚¬61.1bn, compared to a 2007 surplus of â‚¬37.8bn.
retailers reported a less weak sales month in February, with reported sales
back around where they were September-October. Business investment fell 3.9% in
Q4, its second consecutive decline. Banks issued 23.4k new mortgages in
January, up from 22.4k in December but down from 64.1k in July 2007.
temporary show of strength, following the strong finish to the US equity markets,
NZD is approaching the top of the 8 day old range of 0.50 to 0.52. On the day,
we think it might get very close to 0.52 and hold there, forming a bullish ascending
triangle. More on this tomorrow as the pattern may become clearer.
Speizer, Senior Market Strategist, NZ, Ph: (04) 470 8266
contributions from Westpac Economics
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Q1 RBNZ
inflation expectations 2.7% 2.4%
Aus Q4 wage
price index %qtr 0.9% 1.0%
construction work done 4.4% â€“1.5%
existing home sales 6.5% 1.0%
merchandise trade balance ÂĄbn sa â€“148.8 â€“
business confidence 24.8 â€“
Ger Q4 GDP
revision â€“2.1% a â€“2.1%
UK Q4 GDP
revision â€“1.5% a â€“1.6%
â€˘ NZ Weekly
Forex Outlook (23 February)
â€˘ NZ Weekly
Forex Outlook (16 February)
â€˘ NZ Q4
Retail Sales Review (13 February)
â€˘ NZ Weekly
Forex Outlook (9 February)
â€˘ NZ Q4 HLFS
Review (5 February)
â€˘ NZ Q4 LCI
and QES Review (2 February)
â€˘ NZ Weekly
Forex Outlook (2 February)
papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac
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