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Tuesday January 17, 2006 - 21:59:40 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD sinks as business sentiment plummets
The NZD was sold heavily during the domestic session yesterday following the release of the NZIER’s Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion. Business sentiment plummeted in Q4 from –32% to an unadjusted –61%, its lowest level since 1986 and to an historic low of –71% on a seasonally adjusted basis. With capacity utilisation also falling, the NZD fell sharply from opening levels at 0.6975 to an intraday low of 0.6923, before recovering to 0.6950 into the domestic session close. However, solid US data overnight led to a broad based USD recovery. With US industrial production rising to a 5-year high, the NZD came under further pressure, establishing an overnight low of 0.6892 before regaining 0.6900, from where we open this morning.

Australian Dollar: AUD surrenders gains to improved USD
Despite a new 25-year high in the gold price and oil back above $65/barrel, the AUD also lost ground against the greenback during yesterday’s trade. While Nov’s Housing Finance increased 0.4%, the currency took its cues from the major currency pairs, surrendering recent gains against the USD. Solid detail to the NY Fed Index overnight and strong industrial production data saw the USD gains across the board. The AUD deteriorated from an intraday high of 0.7556 to touch lows of 0.7506, before recovering to this morning’s opening level 0.7515.

Major Currencies: Hawkish interest rate view helps USD bounce
The USD had a reasonable bounce on Tuesday after strong US industrial production data gave market participants a reason to believe the Fed will continue to hike rates in early 2006. The Fed is expected to lift interest rates by another 25bps on Jan 31, however the market has been fretting whether further hikes will come to fruition. Last night’s data will temporarily ease the markets doubts and gave the USD a slight reprieve. The euro opens at 1.2085 today down from the 1.2141 high overnight. The yen suffered further losses against the USD due to a rising oil price and a lower Nikkei; USD/JPY opens today at 115.64 after trading a low of 114.57 on Tuesday. The Sterling weakened to a low of 1.7586 and opens today at 1.7625.

US Empire State survey falls from 26.3 to 20.1 in Jan. But most of the detail in the report was solid. New orders held steady at their highest since Aug and shipments and jobs surged impressively. If this was a composite index (like the national manufacturing ISM survey, due in early Feb), the headline would have risen (but then Dec's NY Fed headline was quite a bit stronger than that month's detail implied!). This report shows that the momentum apparent in the NY district industrial sector in late 2005 has carried through into this year.

US industrial production up 0.6% in Dec. After Katrina disrupted Sep, there were solid gains right through the fourth quarter, helped along by a solid contribution from the "mining" component as oil production came back on line in the Gulf in Nov and Dec. Also, utility output rose 2.7% due to the cold snap in parts of the States in the first half of the month. Although auto production declined right through the fourth quarter, manufacturing (i.e. IP excluding utilities and mining) posted an annualised output growth rate of 7.8% in Q4, a pace not seen since the 1990s. That reflects strength in other parts of manufacturing, especially aerospace, with strong Boeing activity.

The UK CPI dipped slipped back to the 2% target in Dec, for the first month since June last year. Although clothing prices were a little stronger, there was still evidence of extensive price discounting on the high street. The core rate slipped to just 1.3%, its lowest since early last year. While there are still upside risks ahead from energy, the recent rapid return to target for the headline rate and soft core inflation will keep alive hopes for a further rate cut from the BoE.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Q4 CPI %qtr 1.1% 0.8%
Aust Jan Westpac-MI Leading Index 3.8% n/f
US Dec CPI/Core –0.6%/0.2% 0.2%/0.1%
Nov TIC Data USDbn 106.8 n/f
Jan NAHB Housing Index 57 58
Fed Beige Book
Fedspeak: Lacker
Eur Nov Industrial Production –0.8% 1.0%
UK Dec Unemployment ch’ 10.5k 8.0k
Can Dec CPI/Core Ex 8 2.0%/1.6% 2.2%/1.6%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q4 QSBO Review (17 January)
• 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 (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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