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Thursday March 2, 2006 - 20:20:02 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD shifts higher after new bond issues announced
The NZD moved higher yesterday and found good support after announcements of large NZD denominated debt issues. Three new Uridashi issuances totalling NZ$1bn have been unveiled since Wednesday. However the currency’s gains were relatively modest as the overwhelming market view is that demand for such instruments would eventually fade as Japan tightened their monetary policy. The currency peaked at 0.6679 overnight as the market looks to the all important RBNZ MPS next Thursday for any hint of a possible easing in the coming months. We open this morning around 0.6670.

Australian Dollar: AUD buoyed by firm retail sales
The AUD was supported by an unexpected jump in retail sales yesterday, which helped the currency cement recent gains against the USD. Jan retail trade rose 0.8%, way above the median market forecast of 0.3%. The revival comes after several months of subdued consumer spending. However, enthusiasm to buy the AUD was subdued after a further drop in dwelling approvals for Jan was announced, which suggested the downturn in housing had yet to find a base.

Major Currencies: ECB hikes, euro rallies
ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet raised interest rates on Thursday. The rate hike was fully priced in by the market but an accompanying statement by Trichet revealed he upped his inflation expectations for 2007. The news helped the euro rally to a three-week high of 1.2023 overnight, up almost 1% from an intra-day low of 1.1913 during NZ trading. The USD was slightly weaker across the board yesterday after posting a lift in jobless claims numbers; however the focus has been firmly on interest rates in Euroland and Japan. The market is looking for signals from the BoJ on when they will end their quantitative easing policy; any indication of an impending shift will aid the yen and today’s Jap inflation will be watched closely. USD/JPY opens today at 115.90, down from the 116.44 high yesterday. Sterling rallied late yesterday from the low at 1.7433 to 1.7530 and opens at 1.7520.

US initial claims up 15k to 294k. Initial jobless claims continue to bounce around happily somewhat under 300k, consistent with the labour market having stepped up a gear in recent months – although payrolls data headlines are yet to fully confirm that. Meanwhile, continuing claims have been less volatile in recent weeks but they continue to edge lower, suggesting that the latest fall in the jobless rate – from 4.9% to 4.7% in January – can be maintained.

The ECB lifted the repo rate to 2.50%. The statement noted that “This decision reflects the upside risks to price stability that we have identified on the basis of both our economic and monetary analyses.” ECB chief Trichet also published slight upward revisions to the ECB staff projections for inflation and growth. On inflation, the forecast mid-points are now 2.2% in both 2006 and 2007 (i.e. above the “close to but below 2%” ECB target), which is an indication that further tightening is likely. However, as in December, when rates were last lifted, Trichet said that he was “pre-announcing nothing”.

German retail sales surged 2.7% in Jan, and December’s previously reported 1.4% fall was revised back to a 0.7% decline. While just one month’s number cannot transform the health of the German retail sector, there are now at least some grounds for optimism. Euroland producer prices accelerated from 4.7%yr to 5.3%yr in January, their fastest pace in just over five years.

The UK construction PMI edged up a little in Feb but the recent trend has certainly been weaker than it was through most of 2005. This contrasts with stronger data on mortgage lending and house prices.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
Country Release Last Forecast
Aust Jan Trade Balance AUDbn –1.2 –1.4
Feb AIG PSI 52.7 n/f
US Feb UoM Consumer Sentiment (F) 87.4a 88.0
Feb ISM Non Manufacturing 56.8 60.0
US Treasury Secretary Snow speech
Jpn Jan Unemployment Rate 4.4% 4.3%
Feb Tokyo Consumer Prices %yr 0.2% 0.2%
Jan Nationwide Core CPI %yr 0.1% 0.3%
Eur Jan Retail Sales 0.1% 0.7%
Feb PMI Services 57.0 56.8
UK Feb PMI Services 57.0 56.5

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ RBNZ March MPS Preview (2 March)
• 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)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on
Westpac Institutional Bank’s website (
Events Today Latest Research Papers/Publications

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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