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Thursday August 11, 2005 - 21:28:35 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar: NZD slams through 0.7000
Courtesy of stronger than expected local jobs data yesterday, the NZD continued recent strong gains against the USD to reach 6-week highs above 0.7000. The NZD was also supported by continued USD weakness after the Fed gave a reasonably benign assessment of the inflation outlook after its latest policy meeting on Tuesday. NZ's unemployment rate fell to 3.7% in Q2, the second lowest in 19 years, driven mainly by more women moving into full-time from part-time work. It was one-way traffic; after opening around 0.6950 the NZD closed on its highs at 0.7017. The theme continued into offshore trading with the NZD rallying to a new 7-week high of 0.7057 helped by further USD selling and another NZ$100m Eurobond issue.

Australian Dollar: Aust unemployment at 28 year low
The AUD opened on its daily low yesterday and quietly traded sideways for most of the morning. A surprise result in July's employment data boosted the AUD through resistance at 0.7660. Employment rose 12.7k well above market expectations of 2.5k and the unemployment rate remained steady at a 28 year low of 5%. Ongoing USD weakness saw the AUD post further gains into the close of the local session and it ended our day just below 0.7700. Offshore trading saw the AUD push higher again and traded to an intraday high of 0.7748 before it stalled.

Major Currencies: JPY gains on China comments
The USD broadly fell overnight as, once again, investors began to consider the effects of the large US trade deficit. The euro was up to a two-month high at 1.2450 and Sterling made a six-week high at 1.8100, with the pound also helped by a slightly hawkish inflation report from the BoE. JPY also strengthened to a six-week high on the back of data showing that foreign investors had brought the most Japanese stocks in five months. Growing optimism on Japan's economy seems to be overshadowing its political turmoil.

US retail sales growth only picked up marginally in July despite the known surge in auto sales after the major manufacturers introduced steep discounts. While unit auto sales jumped nearly 20% as reported earlier this month, the retail sales value of those autos was up less than 7% – indicative of the slashed margins in the sector. That meant that the headline retail growth number fell short of expectations. Also, ex auto retailing was soft, with all of the 0.3% rise there explained by higher gasoline prices. Ex auto weakness may reflect the "crowding out" effect of strong auto sales; if many people are test driving and buying new cars, their discretionary spending elsewhere might be delayed. It would be wrong to suggest that US consumers might be pulling their heads in, it's just that their attentions are currently auto focussed given the incredible bargains available.

US business inventories were flat in June, due to a 0.4% fall in retail stocks on, unsurprisingly, a 2.4% fall in auto sector inventories. Still, that was not quite as weak as the Commerce Department was expecting, so we should see a positive revision to the inventory component of Q2 GDP growth.

US initial jobless claims seem to have established a new lower range around 310k in the lead-up to next week's non-farm payrolls count. The continuing claims downtrend is re-emerging too. These developments suggest labour market conditions are increasingly firm.

Euroland GDP: despite ongoing strength in the Spanish economy
and sharp Italian and Dutch growth bounces following Q1 contractions,
Euroland managed only 0.3% growth overall because the German
economy stalled yet again in Q2. The figure may yet be revised once
the French contribution is known (data due 12/8). But the German data
showed some encouraging life in domestic demand, according to the
Statistician's comments. We see the Euroland economy posting full
year 2005 growth of 1.4%.

German CPI for July was revised up from 1.8%yr to 1.9%yr, which suggests upward risk for the Euroland CPI to 2.3%yr from 2.2%.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Q2 Real Retail Trade 1.3% 1.0%
Aust RBA's Macfarlane Testimony (10:00am)
US Jun Trade Balance USDbn -55.3 -55.9
Jul Import Prices 1.0% 1.0%
Aug UoM Consumer Sentiment 96.5 95.5
Jpn Q2 GDP %qtr 1.2% 0.5%
Bank of Japan Minutes
Can Jun Trade Surplus CADbn 4.0 4.5

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q2 HLFS Review (11 August)
• 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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