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Thursday March 30, 2006 - 01:42:55 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD drops below 0.6000 as bleak outlook intensifies
The NZD tumbled yesterday to a 22-month low of 0.5993 as rising US interest rates added to the NZD's woes. An ailing economy and expectations that NZ interest rates will soon fall have seen the currency slide 12% this year, making it the worst performing major currency. The latest round of selling also came after the US Federal Reserve raised rates to 4.75% and left the door open for more increases. The NZD staged a tidy recovery overnight to peak at 0.6054 and we open this morning around 0.6040.

Australian Dollar: AUD drops post-Fed and eyes 0.7000
The AUD was also punished, hitting an 18-month low of 0.7015 during the domestic session and threatened to break lower through 0.7000 after the Fed rate rise. The continued erosion of yield weighed heavily on the currency as focus now falls on the 0.7000 level. A combination of option barriers plus stop losses is rumoured to be in place at this level and a breach could see a rapid move lower. Buyers re-entered the market overnight to see the currency peak at 0.7074 and we open today’s trading around this level.

Major Currencies: Majors mixed
Major markets were largely independent of each other during yesterday’s trading session with traders focussing on the differing factors of each. Negative economic data released in the UK weighed heavily on GBP which fell from 1.7440 to around 1.7370 immediately preceding the releases. It then traded in a tight range and opens around 1.7340. JPY gained against the USD after some positive comments out of China regarding currency reform. However the dollar was bought back late in the day to close large unchanged at 117.85. The euro gained slightly over the day, seen as a reaction to the heavy selling of the day before.

Japan retail sales firmed as expected. While there was a small 1.5% fall in Feb, correcting the 2.4% rise in Jan, the annual pace still accelerated from -0.4% to 1%. Large retailer sales narrowed to -1.9%yr from -2.8%yr.

German consumer confidence edges up. The survey labeled April (and conducted in March) moved from 5.1 to 5.0, a slower rate of improvement after solid gains in recent months. Retail sales did jump in January, so some of the improvement in sentiment appears to be feeding into spending. February’s retail sales figures are out on Friday and will give some idea of how sustainable that spending burst has been.

UK Q4 GDP unrevised at 0.6%. There were slight shifts in the composition of growth, including several quarters of upward revisions to government expenditure. Noticeable acceleration in consumer spending remained intact even with Q3’s growth being revised down 0.1ppt. However, the poor start to 2006 that retailing had suggests a consumer pause in Q1 will constrain overall GDP growth.

UK CBI retail survey still weak in March. Though up to –16 from –18 it still suggests UK retail sales have improved little since the New Year weakness.

UK home lending softer in Feb. Growth of £8.1bn was the slowest since October last year. The number of mortgage approvals was also lower, back to November’s 115k. The softer lending growth does contrast with most house price measures, which showed price growth continuing into February and March. In contrast to home lending and retail spending, consumer lending growth continued to expand, albeit modestly.

UK M4 money supply and lending growth remained robust over February: the money supply maintained its 12.2% annual rate and lending grew 10.5%, around its recent trend.

UK current account still large in Q4. The current account deficit remained at £11bn. It was, however, substantially larger than the £7bn consensus.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
30 Mar NZ Feb Building Consents –10.8% –3.0%
US Q4 GDP (F) ann’lsd 1.6% 1.7%
Initial Jobless Claims w/e 25/3 302k 298k
Jpn Feb Industrial Production 0.4% –0.3%
Ger Mar Unemployment chg ‘000 –5 –5
UK Mar House Prices %yr 3.7% 4.3%
31 Mar NZ Mar NBNZ Business Confid –62.0% n/f

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q1 Consumer Confidence (29 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (27 March)
• NZ Q4 GDP Review (24 March)
• NZ Q4 Current Account Review (23 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (20 March)
• NZ Q4 Current Account Preview (17 March)
• NZ Q4 GDP Preview (16 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (13 March)
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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