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Tuesday April 18, 2006 - 21:39:27 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD nudges through 0.6300 ahead of inflation data
The NZD consolidated above 0.6200 yesterday as the USD moved lower on the growing view that US interest rate increases may be near their end, along with concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and resultant oil prices. The currency held around 0.6250 for much of yesterday, as local investors returned from the Easter break, but it managed to push higher and peak at 0.6310 overnight. We open today’s trading around 0.6300 ahead of today’s NZ Q1 inflation data release at 10.45am.

Australian Dollar: AUD above 0.7400 on USD weakness
The AUD traded a tight range yesterday, but jumped to a high of 0.7418 overnight with the current pressure on the USD. Aside from negative USD sentiment the move in the AUD was also assisted by the continued surge in gold and metal prices. We open this morning just below the 0.7420 resistance level.

Major Currencies: Fed minutes see USD sold
The release of the FOMC March meeting minutes saw a sell-off in the USD overnight as it surfaced that the FOMC is closer to ending its tightening cycle than the market previously thought. Before the minutes release the euro had climbed steadily off its session lows and reacted sharply on the upside reaching its highs around 1.2326. Sterling followed the euro for most of the session reaching a 1.7813 high. JPY also strengthened on the day and opens around its lows at 117.30.

US PPI tame in March. The core PPI rose only 0.1% after two months of more solid gains. From the perspective of the added focus by the Fed on commodity and energy price passthrough, this is a benign result. There remains some evidence of pricing pressure at the very start of the processing chain, given the 0.8% increase in core crude producer prices. However, those pressures were quickly absorbed further up the pipeline, with core intermediate prices up only 0.1%. Annual growth in core output prices was 1.7% i.e. little different to that of recent months.

US housing starts, permits drop. The 7.8% fall was larger than expected and made up for resilience in Feb. The level of starts is slightly below the level they had trended down to prior to Jan’s jump. Importantly, it reinforces that weather, rather than a rekindling of underlying demand, was behind the strong start to the year. It was a similar story for permits, with the 5.5% fall likewise leaving the number of permits slightly below where they finished 2005.

Fedspeak: Janet Yellen, the San Francisco Fed President, said that she will be “highly alert to the possibility of the policy tightening going too far”, being “increasingly concerned” of the lags from past interest rate increases to their impact on the economy. That phrasing is putting greater emphasis on the issue to what she said a month ago, that she would be “sensitive to the possibility that policy could overshoot”.

FOMC Minutes: The key point to take from the meeting minutes is that they are a shade to the dovish side of the statement that was released immediately after the Mar 28 meeting. Most FOMC members thought that the tightening cycle was getting towards the end. The minutes reveal the Fed was closer to moderating the wording than assumed off the back of the statement. Data since the Fed statement have generally supported the Fed's view on inflation (risks present but not getting realised) and growth (to slow after a Q1 bump, and definitely housing moderating). Though we are likely to get to 5% on Fed Funds, it is more of an open door whether the Fed goes any further.

UK housing rebound: some moderation? The March Rightmove house price measure rose 1.1% m/m, the fourth rise in a row. However, annual growth slipped to 4.1%, though that lack of pick-up in the annual rate looks more to do with a base effect. However, the RICS house price balance for March eased back to a net balance of 13% of surveyors reporting higher house prices, down from 16%.

Canadian Feb new motor vehicle sales. The 0.4% decline after a 1.2% increase in Jan was close to expectations.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Q1 CPI %qtr 0.7% 0.6%
Aust Feb WBC-MI Leading Index 3.7% n/f
US Mar CPI/Core 0.1%/0.1% 0.4%/0.2%
Jpn Feb Leading Index 80% n/f
Eur Feb Industrial Production 0.0%
UK BoE Minutes for 6/4
Can Mar Leading Indicators 0.2% 0.3%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (18 April)
• Diving kiwi, soaring petrel (13 April)
• NZ Economic Overview April 2006 (13 April)
• NZ Q1 QSBO Review (11 April)
• NZ Q1 CPI Preview (11 April)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (10 April)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (10 April)
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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AA 1:30 AU- Employment
AA 08:30 GB- Retail Sales
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