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Sunday February 14, 2010 - 23:48:08 GMT
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Forex Research - Morning Report

 Morning Report Monday 15 February 2010


News and views

The two main stories from Friday's European and US sessions were Chinese tightening and continuing concerns regarding Greece, both negative for risk. China raised its bank reserves requirement by 0.5%, the second increase this year, raising the market's fears that China may be trying to slow its economy. The policy rate was unchanged, though, and the PBOC confirmed its continuation of an appropriately loose monetary policy. Regarding Greece, Eurozone ministers said support details were not on Monday's agenda, but fiscal management would be, disappointing a market which had speculated on a bailout. Dubai credit spreads rose 40bp to above 600bp, a record high. Stronger US retail sales later marked a turnaround in risk appetite, and the S&P500 recovered to close -0.3%. Commodities fared worse, oil (-1.5%) and copper (-1.6%) more China-sensitive. US 10yr notes shed 2bp.

The US dollar (index) made a fresh 2010 high of 80.75 on the China and Greece news, but later returned around half of its gains on the risk-recovery. EUR fell from 1.3690 to 1.3532 (a fresh 2010 low) during Europe's morning, later recovering to 1.3640. USD/JPY was volatile intraday between 89.60 and 90.40, but closed higher around 90.00.

AUD was around 0.8910 when the China news hit the screens, the next hour seeing it plunge to 0.8790. The risk turnaround then saw it grind back to 0.8892 for little net change.

NZD fell from 0.6990 to 0.6900, recovering to 0.6980, and its opening price this morning is just under that. AUD/NZD gained during the risk-averse phase to 1.2770 and consolidated above 1.2710 after that.

US retail sales rise 0.5% in Jan. Retail sales were much stronger than we expected, with little discernible impact from the mid month snow-storms and auto sales holding up much stronger than industry data had suggested would be the case. The only significant declines were in furniture, building materials and miscellaneous, with weakness in those first two storetypes perhaps consistent with the softer tone of housing data lately. Elsewhere sales showed mostly broad-based gains, suggesting some degree of sustainability of the consumer spending story at the start of 2010.

US consumer sentiment down 0.7 pts to 73.7 in Feb. The early read on UoM consumer sentiment for February, as with the IBD-TIPP indicator earlier this week, was softer than in January, reflecting a dip in the outlook component (maybe due to equities declines) which more than offset a rise in the current measure (due to some good news on the economy such as strong GDP and lower jobless rate).

US business inventories down 0.2% in Dec. Stocks posted a renewed modest decline in December, after gains in the first two months of the fourth quarter. The only new information in the report was flat business inventories; the declines in factory and wholesale stocks were already known. We suspect that the inventory contribution to Q4 GDP growth will be shaved back a little.

Further Chinese policy tightening. The reserve ratio requirement was lifted by a further 50bp effective 25/2, from the current levels of 16% for larger banks and 14% for the smaller banks. This follows a similar move on 12/1/10, and is likely to be followed by further tightening measures as the year progresses.

Euroland GDP expanded 0.1% in Q4, a significant slowdown compared to Q3's 0.4%, when growth was boosted by industrial activity and exports related to government funded car scrappage schemes around the world. The national data showed the German economy stalling again after just one quarter of growth; accelerating French growth; slower Dutch growth; and falling activity elsewhere. Also Euroland industrial production fell 1.7% in Dec.

Canadian auto sales rose 2.6% in December, and the StatCan guidance for January was that sales were "relatively unchanged".


AUD/USD and NZD/USD outlook next 24 hours:  AUD recovered well despite the China news, and the 0.8800 support area should again provide some defence today, the 0.8900 area sticky above. NZD has immediate support at 0.6900, while the 0.7000 area remains tough to break. The US holiday and much of Asia on a Chinese New Year holiday should make for thin trading.

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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