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Thursday September 22, 2005 - 21:28:33 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar: NZD sold as sentiment wanes
NZD/USD weakened on Thursday as recent signs of an economic slowdown take its toll on the currency. NZ economic data has been less than flattering this week and, despite the markets concerns about Hurricane Rita in the US, the NZD traded a 22-day low. The NZD initially looked good on the back of US dollar weakness but ran into heavy selling by some big names. After opening at 0.6990, the NZD rallied to 0.7012 but the sellers kicked in and took the currency steadily lower for the remainder of the day. The low was at 0.6913, a level not traded since Aug 31. The NZD opens this morning at 0.6925.

Australian Dollar: AUD suffers as Rita weakens
The USD bounced on Thursday as fears about Hurricane Rita subsided. The AUD bore the brunt of the position reversing and softened to a three-week low. Stronger commodity prices and a pick-up in AUD kangaroo issuance (foreign investment in AUD bonds) initially looked to support the AUD but the currency failed to capitalise. The high traded at 0.7729 soon after the open but it was all downhill thereafter as the market bought back its recent short USD positions. The low traded at 0.7615 late NY time and the AUD opens today at 0.7620.

Major Currencies: Hurricane Rita downgraded, USD firms
The USD firmed broadly on Thursday on speculation Hurricane Rita may not be as damaging as initially feared. The USD rallied against major currencies following Rita's downgrade by the US National Hurricane Center from a Category 5 to 4, despite Category 4 being the same strength as Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc in Louisiana. The euro gave back its gains against the USD made in the prior session, driven by Rita's downgrade and on technical euro selling taking it to a 1.2131 low, the euro opens slightly stronger this morning at around 1.2150. The currency of oil and gas exporter Canada rallied to 13-year highs against the USD of 1.1619 before Rita's downgrade, the CAD opens this morning softer at around 1.1705.
Major CurrencLatest Research Papers/PublicationsUpcoming Events
Jpn Aug surplus narrowed significantly to ₯116bn. Exports grew at a 9.1% yr pace while imports have surged to a 21.1% yr. In the month exports rose 2.9% while imports rose a stronger 3.1%.

US leading index falls 0.2% in Aug. The leading index softened in August due to that month's decline in consumer expectations (as measured by the Uni of Mich sentiment index). Supplier delivery times and building permits were also negatives, everything else was flat or positive. With consumer sentiment plunging in September, and other economic data likely to be hit hard by hurricanes Katrina and now Rita, expect further sharply negative readings in coming months. But given the reconstruction to follow, a weak LEI later this year would not be a reliable signal of impending economic slowdown.

US initial jobless claims 432k last week. Initial jobless claims were revised up by 26k in the week ended 10/9 and rose further last week. 103k of the latest week's claims were directly attributed to jobs lost because of hurricane Katrina, on top of 111k Katrina-related claims in the prior two weeks. The Labor Dept expects further upward revisions as more claims roll in. Continuing claims have also started to rise sharply due to the Katrina effect. Note that next week's figures may well be distorted lower because new claimants may be prevented from registering during the evacuation ahead of hurricane Rita.

Canadian CPI headline annual rate jumped to 2.6% yr in Aug due to higher energy prices; the core rate moved higher to 1.7% yr as well, correcting for recent lower than expect outcomes but still comfortably below the midpoint of the BoC's 1-3% target range. No fresh implications for policy here.

Euroland industrial orders fell 1.3% in July, in contrast to the much stronger German orders for July. The recent Euroland orders trend is still positive, but less so than in Germany, suggesting softness in other parts of Europe or data measurement problems.

The Confederation of British Industry survey showed less weak orders and a pickup in output in Sept, despite a weaker export picture. Overall, an improvement in line with the recent up-turn in other UK surveys of manufacturing.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
23 Sep NZ Aug External Migration 6900 n/f
Aust Aug HIA New Home Sales -0.6% n/f
Jpn Autumnal Equinox Day
Ger Sep Cost of Living Index %yr 1.9% 2.3%
26 Sep Aust RBA Financial Stability Review
US Aug Existing Home Sales -2.6% -0.7%
UK Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q2 Current Account Review (21 September)
• 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)
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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