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Tuesday April 4, 2006 - 23:08:17 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD resumes downtrend
The NZD was sold heavily by hedge funds yesterday as the market shifted its focus back to the erosion of NZ’s yield advantage. The currency fell to 0.6025 during the domestic session and to 0.6013 overnight before staging a recovery to peak at 0.6118 as the USD sold off and buyers re-entered the market. Recent rises in Eurozone and Japanese bond yields have re-focused attention on our diminishing yield advantage. We open mid-range this morning around 0.6070.

Australian Dollar: The AUD battler
The AUD recovery was knocked off course briefly by the fall in the NZD. The AUD shed nearly half a US cent during Asian trading as it hit a low of 0.7115 yesterday. However real money buyers then emerged which shifted the currency to an overnight high of 0.7223 and caused the AUD/NZD to reach its highest level since May 2002. Today’s RBA announcement is widely expected to see the cash rate unchanged at 5.5%. The market opens around 0.7200 today.

Major Currencies: USD weaker on rate outlook and reserve diversification
The euro was mildly bid during the Asian session yesterday and surged overnight due to a story doing the rounds that the majority of ECB members favoured a hike in May, and that Trichet could give a signal as early as Thursday. The euro reached a high of 1.2277, and opens slightly lower this morning. The USD index (DXY) is at 2 month lows, helped by a dovish Medley consultancy report saying the Fed will stop raising rates at 5%. The USD sell-off was aided by talk of reserve diversification by Gulf central banks and China. The China comments provided some support to the yen early yesterday, with USD/JPY continuing to weaken to 117.23 overnight as part of the broad USD move.

Japanese base money growth contracted in March ahead of the impending 'collapse'. Base money (currency in circulation plus current account balances) fell from 1.9%yr in February to –1.0%yr in March. With the BoJ committing to on-going liquidity withdrawal early in the month, and CABs running between ¥28trn and ¥30trn around fiscal year end, this number was always coming in soft. Going forward, if the BoJ meets expectations by removing excess reserves by end June, base money will be down by 25% when the data are released in early July. In tandem with the Fed peaking, that should give the yen a major boost against the dollar, and sustain its rally against the commodity bloc.

Euroland unemployment rate edged down in Feb. The rate edged down to 8.2% (its lowest level in 4 years) from 8.3%, and with Dec revised up to 8.4% may have even resumed a slight downtrend. Much of the recent decline will have been due to Germany, which saw its unemployment rate within the Eurostat measure drop from 9.5% to 8.9% over the most recent two months reported.

Euroland Feb producer prices rose 5.4% y/y. That was up only a touch from the revised 5.2% in January. Ex-energy prices rose 1.7% y/y and the increases in this measure have been gently trending up over the past 6 months, suggesting some risk of core CPI inflation getting affected.

UK construction PMI edged up again in Mar. The 0.4 point increase to 52.3 further reversed some of the weakness that set in late in 2005. Housing, at least, should be providing some buoyancy.

UK Q4 mortgage equity withdrawal strong. Withdrawals of £11.8bn were much stronger than expected, and a marked acceleration from Q3’s upwardly revised £8.8bn. That equity extraction helps to explain the pick-up in Q4 retail spending, though retail momentum slackened off in Q1 despite continued growth in house prices.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
Aust RBA Policy Announcement 5.5% 5.5%
Mar AIG PSI 48.7 n/f
US Mar ISM Non-Manufacturing 60.1 58.5
Eur Mar PMI Services 58.2 58.1
Feb Retail Sales 0.8% –0.1%
UK Mar PMI Services 58.9 n/f
Mar Industrial Production 0.4% 0.3%
Mar BRC Retail Price Index

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q1 Employment Confidence Index (5 April)
• Exchange rate impact on inflation (3 April)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (3 April)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (3 April)
• A dry wake (31 March)
• NZ Q1 Consumer Confidence (29 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (27 March)
• NZ Q4 GDP Review (24 March)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on
Westpac Institutional Bank’s website (www.wib.westpac.co.nz)

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 www.westpac.com.au 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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