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Monday April 3, 2006 - 21:46:22 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD holds onto recent gains
The NZD held onto Friday’s gains against the USD during yesterday’s trade, as it found strength from the AUD. Despite this, traders still see the prospect of lower NZ interest rates later in the year as returning downward pressure on the currency. With little market moving data due domestically this week, focus will turn to other areas for direction. This may come from a number of global events over the remainder of the week, with some important US data and a number of Central Bank interest rate decisions also due out.

Australian Dollar: AUD strengthens after trade inspired gains
The AUD moved higher yesterday after a surprisingly sharp narrowing of the trade deficit in Feb but was reeled in during later trade by a broadly stronger USD. News of a 10% jump in exports helped to extend the currency’s recent recovery. The trade deficit shrank to its smallest level since July 2002 at A$595mn, following a revised A$2.5bn for Jan. The export surge was largely due to reversal of Jan’s exports fall when cyclones closed ports in Western Australia. Other data out yesterday saw an expansion in manufacturing, an increase in job advertising, and a pick-up in price inflation. The currency peaked at 0.7186 overnight and we open this morning around the 0.7150 level.

Major Currencies: USD loses ground after US factory activity eases in March
The USD opened the session strongly against the yen posting a 3 week high of 118.80 as Japanese investors started their new financial year by buying higher-yielding foreign assets and a disappointing Tankan survey provided further fuel. However these gains were erased after the ISM said its manufacturing activity for March was slower than markets had anticipated. This saw the USD slip to a low of 117.57 before recovering mildly to open this morning around 117.70. A5 year high in the Euroland PMI helped the euro rally from its lows against the dollar to reach a session high of 1.2149 before running out of steam with market participants reluctant to take big positions ahead of the ECB rate announcement and the March US payrolls report due later in the week.

Japanese Tankan survey for Q1 undershot expectations, but no cause for alarm. The headline large manufacturers index came in at +20, down from +21 in Q4. Large non-manufacturing conditions edged up one point to +18.

US manufacturing ISM slips in March. The manufacturing ISM headline was weaker than expected, falling by 1.5 index points to 55.2 instead of rising by around that amount. Unlike the regional surveys, the production and new orders components struggled to add to recent momentum: new orders fell 3 points. Employment eased back, though that was largely anticipated. However, the order backlog component jumped 5 points, implying manufacturers still need to gear up production to meet demand. The prices paid component reversed its recent decline, unsurprising given the sustained increase in energy costs over the month. The Fed is watching for flow through of energy and commodity prices to final consumer prices, though the prices component remains well down on its post-Katrina peak.

US construction spending healthy in Feb. The above consensus Gain of 1.5% in Feb was coupled with a collective 1.1ppt upward revision to Dec’s and Jan’s growth. The bulk of Feb’s growth was residential, indicating that the strong housing starts during Jan have started to filter through. All up construction has carried good momentum through into Q1, albeit partly weather related.

US pending home sales declined 0.8% in Mar. That was close to expectations, but came off a 2ppt revision for Feb that turned a fall into a rise. In other words the initially-reported pending home sales over Feb were a poor predictor of the strong rise in existing home sales.

Euroland manufacturing PMI at 5-yr high. The Mar reading hit 56.1 from 54.5. The pick-up in the PMI has been marked over the past 6 months, though industrial production itself has yet to fully reflect the extent of the survey turnaround. Nevertheless, the survey is a further piece of news that makes it more likely the ECB will lift rates next month.

UK manufacturing PMI eases to 50.8 from 51.5. The Mar PMI moved back close to the 50 expand/contract demarcation line, suggesting the recent mild manufacturing pick-up could be running out of steam already.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
4 Apr Jpn Mar Base Money %yr 1.9% n/f
Eur Feb Unemployment Rate 8.3% 8.3%
Feb Producer Prices %yr 5.3% n/f
5 Apr NZ Mar ANZ Comm Prices (NZD) 1.7% n/f
Q1 Employment Confid Index 114.5 n/f

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (3 April)
• A dry wake (31 March)
• NZ Q1 Consumer Confidence (29 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (27 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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