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Thursday February 23, 2006 - 20:58:10 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD gets respite from sellers
The NZD got a respite from its recent battering during the local session on Thursday, managing to hold above its 17-month lows but not able to break through 0.6600. The overnight session proved good for NZD as buyers emerged to push the currency up to 0.6624, the first level of resistance. From there it was choppy trading with NZD opening this morning around 0.6610.

Australian Dollar: AUD off bottom of range
The AUD spent the local session at the lower end of its recent range on Thursday, managing to push through 0.7350 twice but failing to go further to the downside on both occasions. The overnight session saw the AUD bought along with most other major currencies, pushing up through resistance at 0.7385 to reclaim 0.7400. 0.7422 was the high for the AUD as sellers emerged to push the currency back to its support at 0.7385, where it opens this morning.

Major Currencies: Interest rate rhetoric driving FX market
The FX markets have been increasingly focussed on interest rates over the past few months and Thursday’s rhetoric and data heightened expectations. The BoJ’s Governor Fukui stated that Japan’s loose monetary policy might soon come to an end and higher interest rates are on the horizon. The yen strengthened immediately following the announcement and moved from 118.50 to a low of 116.76, the biggest intraday move since Jan 6. Positive German business climate data pushed the argument for higher interest rates in Europe and helped the euro rally from 1.1893 to 1.1970. However surprisingly low US jobless claims last week gave the USD a late reprieve, the euro opening today at 1.1920 and the yen at 117.10.

Japan’s trade balance fell into deficit in January. This is the first deficit reading for five years. Two factors are at play here. Firstly, there is the obvious working day effect crimping shipments to the economies that celebrate the Lunar New Year (LNY). And second, high energy prices were an influence.

Japanese corporate services prices beat expectations with a 0.1%yr fall. The consensus forecast was –0.2%. The surprise was not broad-based though, with the energy footprint observable in a lumpy rise in some components of transport services.

Japan's tertiary activity index rose 0.2% in Dec, all-industry activity up 0.4%. This release is less relevant in the third month of the calendar quarter, as it always lags the advance estimate of GDP.

US initial jobless claims fall 20k to 278k. In the survey week for non-farm payrolls, claims fell sharply (reversing the prior week’s jump), confirming that the labour market has indeed strengthened this year. This result diminishes concerns that Jan’s dip in claims was a temporary weather-related phenomenon, and will boost expectations for a strong Feb payrolls. The continuing claims trend remains downward despite the rises in the latest available week. Still on the labour market, the unloved help wanted index slipped from 38 to 37 in Jan. That reflects fewer job ads, but not a weaker labour market.

US Fed surveys. The Chicago Fed NAI is a function of eighty separate data series, and it slowed into the new year. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Fed’s survey of local manufacturers found slower production growth this month.

The German Ifo business survey surged to 103.3, its highest since October 1991, a credible result given that ECB tightening expectations were rising as the survey was taking place. The IFO commented that recovery appeared to be broadening from exports into domestic demand as well. This is a strong signal that Q4’s disappointing flat GDP growth rate was only a temporary slowdown.

German inflation: the cost of living index in North Rhine- Westphalia was steady at 1.8% yr in Feb. In Brandenburg it eased from 2.5% yr to 2.4% yr. These are early signals that the national inflation rate did not accelerate from Jan’s 2.1% yr in Feb.

The Swedish Riksbank lifted its key rate 25bp to 2.0% but the dovish statement suggests a further near-term rate rise is unlikely.

Events Today
Date Country Release Last Forecast
24 Feb Aust Q4 Est. House Prices –1.0% n/f
US Jan Durable Goods Orders 1.8% –2.5%
Fedspeak: St Louis Fed president Poole
UK Q4 GDP Revision 0.6%a 0.6%
27 Feb NZ Jan Merch Trade NZDmn –292 –360
Aust Q4 Company Profits 3.9% 2.5%
Q4 Inventories 0.3% 0.7%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (20 February)
• An over-inflated problem (16 February)
• NZ Q4 Retail Sales (14 February)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (13 February)
• NZ Economic Overview January 2006 (1 February)
• NZ Labour Market Preview (1 February)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (30 January)
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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