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Wednesday August 10, 2005 - 00:40:40 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar: NZD posts 5 week high
NZD/USD held its grip on 0.6900 yesterday morning opening around 0.6920. The currency drifted sideways for much of the morning in light trading. However the NZD received a boost from a rampant euro in early afternoon trade which saw the NZD post an intraday high of 0.6960. NZD/AUD made further gains during the day as the AUD was left behind the soaring euro. The NZD came under pressure early in the offshore session and reluctantly softened on the back of a very weak AUD. Continued selling saw the currency post an intraday low of 0.6895 before recovering slightly to bounce back above 0.6900.

Australian Dollar: AUD ranges ahead of Fed decision
The AUD was locked within a tight 20 point range during the local session yesterday still smarting from Monday's RBA decision to adopt a neutral stance. Data released on the day consisted of housing finance and business conditions data and both posted soft results. June housing finance softened 0.9%, being the third consecutive monthly decline. Business conditions softened in July which was a surprise result after strong results in May and June. Offshore trading saw the AUD take another blow this time on stop loss selling. AUD softened throughout the session and pushed below 0.7600 to post a low of 0.7586.

Major Currencies: Federal Reserve remains conservative
The Federal Reserve raised the Fed funds rate by 0.25bps for the tenth consecutive time on Tuesday but stuck with the status quo and failed to make significant changes to their statement. The market was positioning itself for a slightly more hawkish statement prior to the release, so the Fed's conservative stance put late selling pressure on the USD. The euro opened around 1.2350 on Tuesday and rallied during the NZ session to 1.2418 before a quick reversal materialised. The euro weakened offshore to trade the intraday low at 1.2331 prior to the Fed's statement; late USD weakness took EUR/USD back up to 1.2380 at the close. Sterling trading was similar to its neighbour, strengthening from 1.7840 to 1.7916 then weakened to 1.7820 leading up to the Fed's release. A late surge took GBP/USD back to 1.7860. The yen traded between 111.67 and 112.25 yesterday, the yen strengthening early in the day then weakening prior to the Fed and finished with a late surge.

The BoJ left policy unchanged after their meeting today.
The US Federal Reserve lifted its funds target 25bps to 3.5% following last night's FOMC meeting. The balanced risk assessment with respect to both growth and inflation was still there; the commitment to remove policy accommodation at a measured pace was retained. The changes in the accompanying statement were minor, with the Fed simply acknowledging the recent stronger spending data, but perhaps as an offset adding in that core inflation was relatively low. There was nothing to suggest any surprises from the Fed in the nearterm. We continue to expect the Fed to tighten to 4% this year, and on to 4.5% in 2006, unless bond yields rise sharply in the meantime, deflating the housing boom and related consumer spending.

US productivity growth 2.2% in Q2. With the US economy about to enter its fifth year of recovery from the 2001 recession, productivity growth of over 2% is still respectable, even if down on the 6-8% productivity growth spurt recorded in 2003 when the recovery was still largely jobless. The big surprise in the report was the subdued 1.3% annualised growth in unit labour costs, slowest in a year. This news will have been received with some pleasure at the FOMC meeting, given the Fed’s recent focus on ULC.

Canadian housing starts up 0.4% in July. The close to flat July result reflected a surge in multiples but falls in single urban and rural housing starts. Still, overall activity in the sector remains high.

UK trade deficit narrows to £4.3bn. The sharp improvement in the UK deficit to its lowest in more than two years may be too good to be true. That is because the Statistics office thinks that it has uncovered another VAT fraud related to the import and export of computer parts and mobile telephones. Just like occurred earlier this decade, the trade data may need to be substantially revised as they are based in part on VAT tax forms, which we now suspect have been understated.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Jul Food Price Index flat 0.3%
Aust Aug WBC-MI Consumer Sentiment -5.5% n/f
US Jul Federal Budget USDbn -69.2 -55.5
Jpn Jul Corporate Goods Prices %yr 1.4% 1.4%
Jul Consumer Confidence 46.8 48.4
UK BoE Quarterly Inflation Report
Can Jun New House Prices 0.5% 0.4%

Latest Research papers/Publication
NZD 0.6917 - 0.6958 0.6895 - 0.6960 _0.6919 0.6905-0.6935
AUD 0.7639 - 0.7663 0.7586 - 0.7660 _0.7612 _(0.9089) 0.7595-0.7625
JPY 111.67 - 112.18 111.67 - 112.25 _112.00 _(77.490) 111.80-112.20
EUR 1.2346 - 1.2400 1.2331 - 1.2418 _1.2370 _(0.5593) 1.2355-1.2385
GBP 1.7838 - 1.7890 1.7820 - 1.7916 _1.7871 _(0.3871) 1.7855-1.7890
• NZ Q2 QES and LCI Review (8 August)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (8 August)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (8 August)
• NZ Q2 labour market preview (3 August)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (2 August)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (1 August)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on
Westpac Institutional Bank’s website (www.wib.westpac.co.nz)
(Previous day’s closing rates)

Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 incorporated in Australia (NZ division). Information current as at 24 May 2005. 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 www.westpac.com.au 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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