Thursday February 16, 2006 - 20:26:34 GMT
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Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz
Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning ReportNew Zealand Dollar NZD drops under 0.6700 on testimony and data
The NZD eased only slightly yesterday, as the USD found support after new Fed chairman Bernanke suggested interest rates were likely to continue rising. The NZD showed little reaction to producer price data, which indicated manufacturers remained under pressure from higher energy costs in Q4. Weak January house sales also had limited market impact, but it appears the RBNZ is running out of justification for running such tight monetary conditions as recent poor economic data mounts. The currency did push to a low of 0.6674 overnight but opens slightly higher this morning around 0.6690.
Australian Dollar: AUD under 0.7400 but relatively subdued ahead of RBA
After a bumpy start, the AUD settled below 0.7400 to hit a low of 0.7378 yesterday. However with Bernanke out of the way, the AUD spent the remainder of the day and overnight devoid of any clear direction. The release of Australian merchandise imports data, which showed a lower than expected fall in January and pointed to a slightly higher January trade deficit had no effect on the currency. The market now looks to RBA Governor Macfarlane's testimony today, but few will expect any great surprises given the balanced view of his last testimony. The AUD opens today around 0.7380
Major Currencies: Rumours of security alert sees choppy USD trade
The USD was mixed during Thursdayâ€™s offshore session, slipping on a security scare in New York then recovering following some positive economic data. A security scare in New Yorkâ€™s Port Authority bus station triggered modest USD selling taking the euro to a 1.1896 intraday high. The euroâ€™s rally was short lived however and was pushed lower following the release of a strong US Philly Fed index and housing starts for Feb and Jan respectively. The euro fell off its highs trading a 47bps range and opens this morning at around 1.1880. US housing starts jump 14.5% in Jan. Housing starts surged to a new post 1970s record high â€“ an annualised pace of 2276k â€“ and permits were also very strong, though not a new record. Most of this strength is weather related. Jan benefited both from a bounce from weather dampened Dec, and from last monthâ€™s exceptionally mild weather. The regional figures back that view, with the two districts typically affected the most by the weather posting the steepest gains: the northeast up 19% and the midwest up 24%.
US Philly Fed jumped from 3.3 to 15.4 in Feb,
although the underlying detail, which was already stronger than the Jan headline implied, did not improve as much. Orders and jobs were little changed, although shipments strengthened further. The prices measures â€“ both paid and received â€“ continued falling for the fourth straight month, seemingly oblivious to recent volatility in energy prices.
US import prices rose 1.3% in Jan,
reflecting last monthâ€™s run up in energy prices.
US initial jobless claims
rose for the second week running to just below 297k, adding to the sense that their sharp decline to just 273k in late January was flattered by that monthâ€™s mild weather. Fed chair Ben Bernanke repeated Wedâ€™s testimony to the House in the Senate last night. In the Q&A, he fended off a range of inane and politically motivated questions from law-makers that did little to add to our understanding of the likely future direction of Fed monetary policy.
UK retail sales plunged 1.3% in Jan,
ending the run of five consecutive monthly gains through H2 2005. Retail data at the turn of the year are always difficult to assess but the consumer picture now looks quite a bit weaker than previously. This is consistent with our view that the next policy move from the Bank of England will be a cut, although we suspect that a majority on the policy committee would want to see more clear-cut evidence of weakness before acting (i.e. a March cut is not likely). Also, there was a modest rise in the surveyorsâ€™ institute house price measure in Jan.
Country Release Last Forecast
Aus RBAâ€™s Macfarlane Testimony (10:00am)
US Jan Producer Price Index 0.9% 0.2%
Jan PPI Core 0.1% 0.3%
Feb UoM Consumer Sentiment (Prelim) 91.2 90.0
Jpn Q4 GDP %qtr 0.2% 1.3%
Eur Dec Industrial Production 1.3% â€“0.4%
Can Dec Wholesale Sales â€“0.2% 0.5%
Latest Research papers/Publication
â€¢ An over-inflated problem (16 February)
â€¢ NZ Q4 Retail Sales (14 February)
â€¢ NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (13 February)
â€¢ NZ Economic Overview January 2006 (1 February)
â€¢ NZ Labour Market Preview (1 February)
â€¢ NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (30 January)
â€¢ NZ Terms of Trade:History & Significance (26 January)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac
Institutional Bankâ€™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. Â© 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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