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Monday January 16, 2006 - 21:38:40 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD capped at 0.7000 as data releases resume
The NZD remained robust during yesterday’s trade, taking its cues from the major currencies ahead of the Martin Luther King holiday in the US. USD sentiment remains pessimistic as the prospect of an end to the US rate cycle is weighed against the suggestion of further rate rises in Europe. Despite this, from a low of 0.6985 locally, the NZD found little impetus to make a concerted attempt at 0.7000 and once again, drifted lower in overnight trade. With business confidence, CPI and retail trade data due for release this week, the NZD opens this morning at 0.6975.

Australian Dollar: AUD boosted by soaring metal prices
The AUD also shadowed major currencies during yesterday’s trade. Early gains in the euro saw the AUD rally to a 1-month high against the USD of 0.7577, a 3% gain since the beginning of 2006. While the TD Securities Melbourne Institute’s monthly inflation gauge saw a 0.1% up-tick in December, the currency continues to take its directional cues from international events. Oil prices firmed in London as tension over Iran and militant unrest in the Niger delta led to supply concerns, while precious and base metal prices continue to register generation highs. The AUD remained well supported as gold topped $562/oz and copper and zinc again hit all-time highs.

Major Currencies: USD uncertain during quiet trading
The USD had a mixed day of trading on Monday partially due to the US public holiday but also because of rising concerns about the situation in Iran and a market unsure of how many more rate hikes the Federal Reserve will deliver. Martin Luther King day meant for a day of thin and subdued trading however the USD weakened slightly against the euro due to relative interest rate expectations. The market has favoured the euro since ECB president Trichet indicated the need for vigilance when dealing with inflation pressures in the Eurozone. The USD fared slightly better against the yen, refusing to stay below 114.00 and, after briefly trading at 113.80, rallied to a 10-day high at 115.12. Sterling weakened by 1.4% against the dollar due to poor British producer prices. Sterling sold off from 1.7798 to 1.7540 before recovering to 1.7675 this morning.

Japan's corporate goods prices rose 2.2%yr in Dec, beating expectations. The domestic CGPI rose 0.2% from Nov, pushing the annual rate to its highest reading since 1990. The export price index was flat in the month, enough to push the year-ended pace to 6.8% from 6.1% in Nov. Import prices decelerated slightly to 21.9%yr on the back of a small in-month decline. This reading would be capturing a mix of higher metals prices and lower energy prices at year-end. The appreciation of the yen through Jan will be a disinflationary influence on the traded portion of the index early in 2006.

Japan's Nov current account narrowed to ¥1570bn. That compares to a ¥1674bn surplus in Oct. The unadjusted surplus widened a fraction. A positive shift in the goods balance was neatly offset by a deterioration on the income side, leaving a worsened services balance to narrow the overall position. The current account and trade surpluses have been on an improving trend through the second half of 2005, with the turnaround in global manufacturing and the weaker yen supportive factors.

US holiday: no data to report.

UK producer prices stronger than expected. The core output PPI accelerated from 1.3% yr to 1.6% in Dec, input prices jumped sharply and Nov data were revised higher. While there has been little evidence that higher factory gate prices have fed into retail inflation, data like these tend to undermine the case for a further near-term rate cut from the Bank of England.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Q4 QSBO Confidence net % –32% n/f
Aust Nov Housing Finance 1.1% –0.7%
US Jan NY Fed “Empire State” Index 28.7 20.0
Dec Industrial Production 0.7% 0.5%
Dec Capacity Utilisation % 80.2% 80.4%
Jpn Dec Consumer Confidence 48.2 49.0
UK Dec House Prices Net Balance % 4 n/f
Dec CPI % yr 2.1 2.0
Can Dec Leading Index 0.3% 0.5%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (16 January)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (16 January)
• NZ Q4 CPI Preview (13 January)
• NZ Q4 Employment Confidence Index (11 January)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (9 January)
• NZ Weekly Interest Rate Wrap-up (9 January)
• NZ Q3 GDP Review (22 December)
• NZ Q3 Current Account Review (21 December)
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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