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Wednesday August 31, 2005 - 01:02:27 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar: NZD slips to 3 week low and business confidence down again
NZD/USD opened around 0.6920 yesterday morning after range trading the previous session. The currency spent the morning trading a tight 20 point range in a day devoid of local economic data. USD strength was seen across the board in the early afternoon as news filtered through that Hurricane Katrina had been downgraded. The NZD fell through 0.6900 on the back of this and posted a low of 0.6893 during our day. Offshore trading put the NZD under further pressure and it posted an intraday low of 0.6868. NZ business confidence was released early this morning and fell for a fifth month out of six on continuing concerns about the price of oil.

Australian Dollar: Trade balance widens; shoppers close the purse
The AUD started the day confidently above 0.7500 but soon fell as it became known that an Australian investment bank completed the purchase of a toll road in the US. AUD/USD also stumbled on the release of its July trade balance and retail sales data. Retail spending growth was flat in July below market expectations of a 0.3% rise. A strong import base saw the trade deficit widen in July to $1.458bn from $1.404bn in June. The AUD also suffered at the hands of a resurgent USD and combined with the data releases, the AUD posted a low of 0.7479 during the local session. Overnight trading pushed AUD/USD lower still and the currency eventually found a low of 0.7467.

Major Currencies: Markets edgy on oil, hurricane
The US gained against the yen, but only managed to tread water against other major currencies as the economic effects of Hurricane Katrinavremain unknown. As a major importer of oil, Japan has felt the full effects of record prices, selling off to a 111.60 high before recovering slightly. European markets, while less exposed to the oil price shocks, initially softened against the USD with euro and Sterling hitting overnight lows of 1.2170 and 1.7833 respectively. Traders steadily brought the euro from these levels and it opens largely unchanged from yesterday afternoon, while Sterling could only manage a 30-point rally and opens around 1.7860.

US consumer confidence rises 2 pts to 105.6 in Aug.
Consumer confidence surprised with a 2 pt gain in Aug, reversing much of its July fall, and contrasting with the UoM consumer sentiment index, published last week, which fell quite sharply. We suspect this contrast is due to the UoM survey having a direct question on prices, whereas the CB index does not, making the former more sensitive to rising gasoline prices. Also, the CB index asks about the labour market, which is on the improve, whereas the UoM index does not.

US factory orders fell 1.9% in July,
a little less than expected because of the sharp rise in non-durables, essentially due to higher prices increasing the value of energy orders. The steep durables decline, reported last week, was unrevised. The report also showed a 0.5% increase in factory stocks, their strongest gain since February.

FOMC minutes. The discussions at the Aug 9 meeting confirmed that the Fed is comfortable that the economy continues to expand, but that inflation is less of an immediate threat than it was earlier in the year. However, most participants viewed that the risks to inflation had increased. Despite some concern that oil prices could slow consumer spending, interest rates were still seen as on the low side and there is no hint the Fed intends to pause.

The Canadian current account surplus was C$4.7bn in Q2, up from Q1's C$3.4bn, in line with where the monthly trade figures suggested the surplus would be.

Surprising softness in UK credit data. Net new mortgage lending (drawdowns less repayments) dipped to just £6.5bn in July, down almost 19% from May's £8.0bn, just two months prior.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Jul Dwelling Consents 12.5% 6.0%
Aust Q2 Current Account Balance AUDbn -15.6 -13.9
Jul Dwelling Approvals 0.9% -4.0%
US Q2 GDP Prelim (first rev'n) %ann 3.4%a 3.5%
Aug Chicago PMI 63.5 59.0
Jpn Jul Industrial Production %yr 1.6% -0.8%
Eur Q2 GDP Revision 0.3%a 0.3%
Aug CPI Flash %yr 2.2% 2.2%
UK Aug GfK Consumer Confidence -1 0
Can Q2 GDP % ann’lsd 2.3% 2.5%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (29 August)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (29 August)
• NZ Superannuation Fund: An Update (24 August)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (22 August)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (22 August)
• Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update (18 August)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (16 August)
• NZD: A Commodity Story (15 August)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (15 August)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on
Westpac Institutional Bank’s website (www.wib.westpac.co.nz)

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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