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Tuesday February 28, 2006 - 21:41:35 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD stabilises, but expectations remain low
The NZD held a tight range either side of 0.6600 yesterday despite concerns over the swelling trade deficit and a slowing economy. Expectations that it is only a matter of time before the NZD resumes its grind lower remain firm in the market. The Feb NBNZ business confidence survey showed further pessimism, with 62% believing the economy will deteriorate. The market showed little interest in the survey results or the Jan new building consents data, which fell sharply as new apartment consents declined. However the NZD did manage to stage a late rally overnight to reach a high of 0.6636.

Australian Dollar: AUD steadies after dip
The AUD dipped after yesterday’s surprise current account deficit blowout in Q4, but managed to steady in a familiar range just below 0.7400 soon after the release. The widening was largely driven by deteriorating net income, with a higher degree of repatriation of profits by foreign owners of Australian companies. This tended to limit the currencies decline, as did the Australian credit growth data surprising on the high side for January. We open today’s trading close to the overnight peak of 0.7435.

Major Currencies: USD broadly softer after PMI, CAD at 14 year high
The USD is broadly softer against other major currencies this morning, following the release of a disappointing Chicago PMI and weaker housing data overnight. Afall in the business activity index heightened expectations that the Fed may have limited scope for further rate rises, undermining the USD. USD/JPY slipped to an intraday low of 115.77, while the euro regained 1.19 to establish an overnight high of 1.1934. Elsewhere, Sterling shrugged off soft domestic retail and housing numbers and was driven to a 1.7554 high by M&A flows. The CAD fell to a 14 year low, sub 1.14, with strong GDP numbers fuelling expectations of higher interest rates “north of the border”.

US Q4 GDP growth revised up. Growth in the hurricane-disrupted quarter was revised up in line with expectations to 1.6% annualised, from 1.1% originally reported. Notable upward revisions were business investment (better reflecting capital goods shipments), inventories, and government spending. Some offset came from greater net export drag and a surprise downward revision to residential construction. The core PCE deflator was revised down a hair to 2.1% from 2.2%, despite both the headline PCE and GDP deflators being revised up. Q1 is shaping to bring about much stronger GDP growth after the string of disruption.

US Feb business surveys. The Chicago PMI fell by more than expected to 54.9 from 58.5. New orders tumbled and production softened. On the inflation front, prices paid fell to their lowest level since Hurricane Katrina hit. The Richmond Fed survey did rebound modestly to 0 from –4.

US Feb Conference Board Consumer Confidence also softened noticeably to 101.7 from 106.8 as the expectations component plummetted. However, the labour components retained Jan’s upbeat reading, a further indication along with jobless claims that the labour market is on a firmer footing in 2006.

Eurozone CPI. January inflation remained unchanged from the flash estimate of 2.4% y/y. However, the core rate was revised down to 1.2% from 1.4% – though is unlikely to hold the ECB back.

Eurozone Feb confidence edges up. The business climate index beat expectations, improving to 0.61 from 0.34. Consumer confidence remained steady, and economic confidence improved a fraction to 102.7.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
Aust Q4 GDP %qtr 0.2% 0.9%
Q4 Enterprise Bargaining %ann 4.1% –
Feb AIG PMI 50.2 –
US Jan Personal Income/Spending 0.4%/0.9% 0.7%/1.4%
Jan Core PCE Deflator 0.1% 0.2%
Jan Construction Spending 1.0% 1.2%
Feb ISM Manufacturing 54.8 56.5
Feb Auto Sales mn 17.6 16.2
Eur Feb PMI Manufacturing 53.5 53.5
Jan Unemployment Rate % 8.4% 8.5%
UK Feb PMI Manufacturing 51.7 52.0

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (27 February)
• 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)
• NZ Terms of Trade:History & Significance (26 January)
• NZ RBNZ OCR Review (26 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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