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Monday May 1, 2006 - 21:03:59 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD holds up on subdued trade
The NZD paused near six-week highs yesterday, aided by the broadly weakening USD. The currency traded a tight 22 point range during the domestic session as Europe holidayed and Asia prepares for a series of holidays over the coming days. The NZD was again quiet overnight but did manage to spike to 0.6425 briefly before deciding to return to its range. We open around 0.6350 this morning.

Australian Dollar: AUD jumps above 0.7600 ahead of rate review
The AUD shifted to a high of 0.7613 during the day fuelled by the risk of an imminent interest rate rise, negative USD sentiment and a fresh quarter-century high for gold prices. The move was also aided, despite the quieter holiday period, by the Australian inflation data lifting in April. This rise came about through increases in petrol prices, rents, and hospital & medical services. In other data, the Australian PMI eased back slightly in April. The currency peaked at 0.7638 overnight and opens around 0.7600 today ahead of tomorrows RBA announcement.

Major Currencies: Bearish USD sentiment prevails
A small increase in the March core PCE deflator (the Fed’s favoured inflation measure) gave the USD a small, but short-lived boost last night. Strong ISM data raised treasury yields, but bearish sentiment prevailed and bond yields provided only limited support to the dollar, despite being at multi-year highs. The USD spiked this morning, however, following the release of comments by Bernanke to CNBC that his previous remarks were meant to indicate that the Fed is flexible, not dovish. The USD rallied across the board following the release, but has softened since. Light flow yesterday saw the euro trade in a 20 point range. It sold off overnight after reaching a 1 year high at 1.2690, and following this morning’s Bernanke comments the euro touched a low of 1.2560, before recovering to 1.2590. USD/JPY selling during the Asian session by a US name saw the dollar slide, with USD/JPY trading down to 113.03. Further selling overnight saw USD/JPY trade to 112.35, and we open higher this morning at 113.30.

US ISM manufacturing: the ISM index for April bounced back to 57.3 from 55.1 in March, beating consensus expectations of a rise to 55.2. This is the highest the index has been since November 2005. Four of the five components of the index posted gains during the month, with the new orders index the only component to decline. Overall, growth in the manufacturing sector is being spurred on by strength in production and employment.

US personal income and spending: personal income rose 0.8% in March, double expectations and well above the 0.3% gain in February. However, the surge was largely due to a special one-off factor rather than an improvement in underlying growth. Nearly half of the growth came from payments for the new Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Without that increase, personal income would have risen 0.5% (0.45% before rounding). However, even at this pace, income growth was near its recent trend, and supported a boost in personal spending over the month. Spending rose 0.6%, also above expectations and February’s upwardly revised 0.2% gain. Servicesrelated spending underpinned the growth. Meanwhile, the US core PCE deflator rose 0.3% (0.2% expected), after rising 0.1% in February. In annual terms the Core PCE is now 2.0% higher, up from 1.8% in Feb. In short, the March data suggest that the U.S. economy continues to grow at a robust pace, with a slight acceleration in prices.

US construction spending increased 0.9% in March, following a revised 1.0% increase in February. Market expectations had been for a 0.3% rise. Private construction increased 1.1% and public construction increased 0.2%. It seems rebuilding following last year's Gulf Coast Hurricanes and unusually mild winter weather have helped underpin residential building, but more recent housing market indicators suggest that the boost is likely to be temporary.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
Aust Q1 NAB Business Survey 20 n/f
US Mar Pending Home Sales –0.8% flat
Apr Vehicle Sales mn ann’lsd 16.6 16.5
Jpn Apr Base Money %yr –1.0% –8.0%
Eur Apr PMI Manufacturing 56.1 56.5
UK Mar BBA Mortgage Data
Apr PMI Manufacturing 50.8 51.5
Apr CBI Distributive Trades Survey –16 n/f

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q1 labour market preview (1 May)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (1 May)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (1 May)
• NZ RBNZ OCR Review (27 April)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (24 April)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (24 April)
• NZ Q1 CPI Review/OCR Preview (19 April)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (19 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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