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Friday November 4, 2005 - 00:21:46 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar: Interest rate focus vs slowing economy
The NZD found itself in a tight range during a quiet domestic session bereft of any market moving data or events. Asian holidays also added to the quiet days trading. The NZD weakened across the board overnight, hitting a four-week low of 0.6872 against the USD. USD strength on the US interest rate outlook continues to provide direction for the market as the NZ interest rate focus appears to be taking a back seat to the slowing economy. We open slightly higher this morning around 0.6880.

Australian Dollar: Disappointing data continues
Despite a fall in the Oct PSI figure, a softer than expected retail trade number confirming that consumers remain in conservative mode in light of record high petrol prices, moderating house prices and high debt levels, and the trade deficit widening in Sep, the market was not overly concerned during the local session moving the AUD to a low of 0.7408. However the currency was pushed down to 0.7381 overnight on the news and USD strength. The AUD is expected to be relatively quiet today with the RBA Monetary Policy Statement on Monday.

Major Currencies: Dollar rises against euro, yen after strong round of data
The USD extended gains against the euro and rose to a fresh 25 month high against the yen as strong data and the ECB's decision to keep rates on hold underpinned demand. USD benefited from a big jump in Q3 US productivity, a bigger drop than expected in weekly jobless claims, and a surprisingly strong rise in ISM's Oct non-manufacturing index. Upbeat economic remarks by Greenspan also contributed to the dollar's rise. The euro dropped after comments by ECB President Trichet were seen as less hawkish than priced in by interest rate markets. Markets were closed in Japan. As a matter of interest the Fed's Trade Weighted Major Currency Dollar Index is up 7.7% this year, poised for the biggest annual advance since 2000.

US ISM non manufacturing jumps from 53.3 to 60.0 in Oct, exactly in line with Westpac's forecast. But firms still commented on the impact of the recent hurricanes on supplies and delivery times, and worried about the impact of high energy prices, as they did in Sept. Also, their numerical responses to the detail questions did not point to a vast improvement in business conditions, (i.e. apart from the jump in the separate headline question). Orders only rose 1.6 pts and jobs were down; the biggest gains were in backlogs and delivery times. Prices growth moderated a little, but generally the message in the detail was not as favourable as the headline implied.

US productivity growth 4.1% in Q3. Productivity growth was much faster than expected, and consequently unit labour costs werevery mild, falling for the first quarter in five. The reason was that hours worked were much softer than implied by payrolls data for last quarter.

Other US data: The factory orders decline of 2.4% in Sep was steeper than expected due to the fall in non-durable orders. Factory stocks fell 0.1%. Initial jobless claims fell 8k to 323k; there was still an 18k hurricane impact, the "underlying" number being 304k, indicative of job market strength.

Fed chairman Greenspan delivered testimony on the economy today. He saw growth fundamentals as "firm" with "forward momentum", but warned that "uncertainty surrounds the inflation outlook". Also, Fed vice chair Roger Ferguson made some disparaging comments about inflation targeting: interesting, given that his new boss, Ben Bernanke, has been a proponent.

The European Central Bank left its repo rate unchanged at 2.0% following today's Council meeting. The statement reiterated the need for strong vigilance and noted upside inflation risks several times.

Euroland and UK PMI services surveys both stronger in Oct. Euroland rose from 54.78 to 54.9; UK was up from 55.0 to 56.1.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
US Oct Non-Farm Payrolls ch' -35k 150k
Oct Unemployment Rate % 5.1% 5.1%
Jpn Sep Household Spending %yr -0.6% n/f
Eur Oct PMI Services 54.7 55.0
Sep Producer Price Index %yr 4.0% 4.6%
Sep Unemployment Rate % 8.6% 8.6%
Ger Sep Factory Orders -3.7% 1.5%
Can Oct Employment ch' -2.3k 28k
Oct Ivey PMI 67.3 62.0

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q3 labour market preview (3 November)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (1 November)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (31 October)
• RBNZ October OCR Review (27 October)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (25 October)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (25 October)
• RBNZ October OCR Preview (19 October)
• NZ Economic Overview October 2005 (18 October)
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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