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Tuesday September 20, 2005 - 21:53:12 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar: NZ consumer confidence remains at two-year lows
The NZD slipped below 0.7000 on Tuesday after soft Q2 growth expectations and an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. The NZD has suffered from poor sentiment this week stemming from risk aversion following election uncertainties, and a weaker euro with similar election troubles and soft data. NZD/USD traded between 0.6990 and 0.7023 with little directional bias for most of Tuesday. The high traded during the NY session at 0.7031, the Fed rate hike gave the USD momentum and the NZD quickly sold off to 0.7000. Westpac- McDermott Miller Q3 consumer confidence data out overnight remained at a two-year low. The NZD closed under pressure at 0.6990.

Australian Dollar: AUD rally stymied by FOMC
The AUD rallied strongly for much of Tuesday sparked by a short squeeze higher in a market looking for stop loss buyers. The rally took the AUD from 0.7652 to 0.7703 during local trading. The stop loss run ran out of puff at 0.7715 resistance level as the market awaited the Fed decision. The FOMC raised interest rates in the US by 25bps and the accompanying statement assured the market there would be further rate hikes on the horizon. The Fed doesn't view Hurricane Katrina to have any lasting effect on the economy. The AUD gave back all its intraday gains and retreated back to 0.7662, closing near the lows.

Major Currencies: Dollar strengthens after Fed hikes rates
Z The USD strengthened against major currencies in Tuesday's offshore session following an expected hike in interest rates by the Federal Reserve. The 25bps rise and the accompanying statement, which left the door open for future rises, saw the USD firm particularly against the euro and yen. The Fed dismissed concerns over significant economic damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, seeing threats to growth as temporary. The euro opens this morning near its overnight lows of 1.2126, the euro was trading around 1.2160 before the announcement. The USD/JPY rallied to an 11-day high following the announcement testing 112.00 resistance, and opens this morning at around 111.90. Oil
prices eased to around $65 per barrel overnight on OPEC's
announcement to increase output by 2mn barrels per day.

US Fed hikes 25bps to 3.75%. The statement noting near-term, but not persistent, setbacks to economic activity following Hurricane Katrina. They also warned that higher energy costs could add to inflation pressures. However the main elements of previous statements – monetary policy accommodative, longer term inflation expectations contained, growth and inflation risks roughly equal, and further measured hikes – were all retained, with essentially identical wording to that used in the Aug 9 statement. As such, this is just about the least dovish statement we could have imagined (particularly as the Fed didn't take the opportunity to totally rewrite the statement), apart from the fact that one FOMC member dissented in favour of a pause. It means that we can be fairly confident that likely weak data in coming months will not prevent a Nov 1 tightening.

US housing starts fall 1.3% in Aug. The housing data were on the softer side of expectations. That was not a surprise for permits, which fell by just over 2%. However starts were weaker than expected, despite record permits and new home sales. Expect fresh highs for starts and permits in post-Katrina reconstruction.

Very soft US weekly retail sales data: chain store sales plunged 2.1%, their steepest one week decline in 10 years; the Redbook retail average was not as dramatic, slipping from 0.5% to 0.4%.

German ZEW survey down from 50.0 to 38.6 in Sept. The ZEW weakened for the first month in four: higher oil prices and the risks to the global economy from post-Katrina US would have been of concern. But ZEW also pointed out that the 15% of responses received after the inconclusive German election were "significantly lower", suggesting that worries about continued lack of reform due to political deadlock also figured.

OPEC announced a 2mn barrel per day output increase. Oil prices drifted down about $2 per barrel although the potential for damage to Texan oil facilities from Hurricane Rita remains a concern.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Q2 Balance of Payments NZDm -1,421 -2,928
Aust Aug New Motor Vehicle Sales 0.4% 3.0%
Jul WBC-MI Leading Index % ann'lsd 2.9% n/f
Eur Jul Current Account EURbn nsa -2.1 n/f
Q2 Labour Costs %yr 3.1% 2.8%
UK Sep Bank of England Minutes
Can Jul Retail Sales 1.1% 1.4%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q3 Consumer Confidence (21 September)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (20 September)
• NZ Q2 Current Account Preview (19 September)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (19 September)
• RBNZ Sep MPS Review (15 September)
• NZ Q2 Terms of Trade Review (12 September)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on
Westpac Institutional Bank’s website (

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 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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