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Wednesday February 17, 2010 - 21:53:28 GMT
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Forex Research - Morning Report

Morning Report Thursday 18 February 2010


News and views

US economic data and a continuing stream of good Q4 company earnings allowed US equities to consolidate their recent gains. Data for housing starts and industrial production were around expectations with a positive tone overall. Notable among earnings reports, Deere & Co, iconic maker of farm equipment, beat estimates by a multiple with upbeat guidance. The S&P500 is currently 0.4% higher. Commodities were mixed, the broad CRB index down 0.4%, but key components oil +0.5% and copper +0.6%. US 10yr notes rose 6bp, weakening on recovery prospects, fading Greece fears, and hawkish member Plosser's comments the Fed should start shrinking its balance sheet soon.

The US dollar rose after Sydney's close, showing its alternative "pro-growth" colours. It rose from around 79.60 to 80.40, reversing the previous day's loss and more. EUR fell from 1.3788 to 1.3598. GBP fell from 1.5816 to 1.5680 (current level), the revelation of unanimous dovish MPC voting and a large jump in jobless claims weighing. USD/JPY rose from 90.20 to almost 91.20. Not necessarily related was news of large high-yielding currency trust launches next week.

AUD ground higher to 0.9036 until the time of the US data release, when it pulled back to 0.8980.

Similarly, NZD pulled back from a 0.7080 high to 0.7030. AUD/NZD held recent gains, and ranged narrowly between 1.2760 and 1.2780.

US industrial production up 0.9% in Jan, the seventh consecutive monthly gain, lifted by a solid manufacturing performance including decent gains in autos, consumer goods, business equipment, high tech and construction supplies - all pointing to a broad-based factory recovery continuing in early 2010, consistent with the strong message from most business surveys.

US housing starts rise 2.8% in Jan and most of Dec's previously reported 4% fall was revised away, suggesting that the impact of unfavourable weather conditions, including snow-storms, on construction activity in those two months was not significant. Permits to build posted their first fall in three months but that was entirely due to a fall in the volatile multiples component; single family house permits rose for the third straight month.

US import prices up 1.4% in Jan. Import prices were boosted by higher energy prices but even excluding that factor, past US dollar depreciation continued to show up in higher ex energy import prices, currently running a 0.4% monthly trend.

The minutes of the 26-27 January FOMC meeting revealed a substantial debate about how to manage the exit from quantitative easing.  Members agreed that Fed's bond holdings and banks' excess cash will need to shrink "substantially over time", with some pushing to start a program of asset sales in the near future. On the Fed funds rate decision, Kansas Fed President Hoenig dissented on the reference to keeping rates low "for an extended period", preferring the wording "for some time" and advocating a modest increase in rates in the near future.

UK recorded a renewed 24k jump in unemployment in Jan, more than reversing the falls of the prior two months, so at best leaving the labour market stalled rather than improving. The separate household survey found jobs still being shed in Q4 last year, but only modestly (-12k) compared to the 100k-300k quarterly job losses seen in H2 2009. A steady jobless rate (both measures) is also indicative of a stalled labour market picture.

The minutes to the Bank of England's February policy meeting showed a unanimous decision to leave rates on hold at 0.5% and to maintain the stock of asset purchases at GBP200bn. Whilst "all members felt that the arguments in favour of leaving the size of the asset purchase programme unchanged at this meeting were more persuasive... for some members, the arguments were very finely balanced." The overall tone was on the dovish side, suggesting an extended asset purchase program is still possible later this year.


AUD/USD and NZD/USD outlook next 24 hours:  AUD remains supported at 0.8920, while NZD's support at 0.7020 looks more vulnerable to a resumption of the mid-January decline.


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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