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Tuesday May 9, 2006 - 22:27:05 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar Carnage on the NZD crosses as NZD/AUD hits 4-year low
Heavy selling on the NZD crosses continued during yesterday’s domestic session. Although the currency briefly rallied from opening levels to an early high of 0.6338, selling soon resumed and the NZD fell to an intraday low of 0.6298. While the USD weakened against the major currencies overnight ahead of tonight’s FOMC meeting, the NZD failed to benefit, sliding further to 0.6242. The result of a weaker USD, yet softer NZD caused carnage on the NZD crosses. NZD/AUD sank to a new 4 year low at 0.8134 and NZD/JPY traded 20-month lows sub-70 yen. The NZD has recovered towards 0.6300 at this morning’s open, but remains pressured at 0.8140 on NZD/AUD.

Australian Dollar: AUD regains 0.7700 as gold breaks $700/oz
Profit taking after recent AUD gains ahead of tonight US rate decision saw the currency soften during early local trade. Adecline in business confidence in April saw the AUD establish intra-day lows of 0.7668 before the release of yesterday’s Australian budget. A weaker greenback overnight, coupled with domestic tax cuts saw the currency improve to 0.7743 during overnight trade. The currency was further boosted by soaring commodity prices. copper and zinc ran to all time highs, while aluminium posted a new 18-year high. With the Chinese government urged to quadruple its gold reserves, the precious metal strengthened to a new 25-year high above $700/oz.

Major Currencies: Market short USD ahead of FOMC
The USD weakened on Tuesday as investors sold USDs ahead of tomorrow’s Fed announcement. Selling was exacerbated by market talk of currency diversification, a large oil exporter looking to price oil in euros, and soaring gold prices. Gold rose to a 25-year high above $700 per ounce, boosted by investment buying amid a weaker dollar, record high platinum prices, geopolitical tensions and a report that some economists are urging China to more than quadruple its gold reserves. The market also focused on a US Treasury report on currency practices of trading partners (due Wednesday), and in particular whether China will be named a country that manipulates its currency. In a session that offered plenty of risk, the USD was the victim as it fell to a new eight month low of 110.90 against the yen and the euro moved back to near its one year high seen on Monday.

US wholesale inventories rise 0.2% in March. Wholesale inventory growth was sluggish in March, but that does not necessarily mean that GDP growth for Q1 will be revised lower, as the Commerce Dept assumption for inventories (which also include factory and retail stocks) were also not that high.

US consumer optimism down from 48.6 to 46.1 in early May. The continued slide in IBD/TPP consumer optimism is almost certainly related to the latest sharp gains in gasoline prices. This result supports our view that the preliminary Uni of Mich consumer sentiment report for May will post a decline. Also, chain store sales fell 0.4% in the first retail week of May. The Redbook turned more sharply, down 2.9% compared to up 4.9% through April. Pull-back from the boost to April from Easter and the weather was blamed.

German industrial production down 2.4% in March. In contrast to the very robust business surveys, Germany posted a surprise fall in industrial output in March. The volatile energy and construction components explained some of the decline, but there was also a 1.4% fall in manufacturing, less easy to explain. Still, this is just one number in an otherwise up-beat industrial picture; our concerns about the German economy remain very much focussed on the lacklustre consumer.

UK retail upswing? There was an impressive bounce in the April survey from the BRC, although the timing of Easter was no doubt a big driver. Smoothed data for Feb-Apr show same store sales flat compared to a year ago, so the underlying story is softer.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
10 May US FOMC Rate Decision 4.75% 5.0%
Apr Budget Statement USDbn –85.5 68.0
UK Mar Trade Balance £bn –6.48 –6.35
BoE Inflation Report
Can Mar New Housing Price Index 0.7% 0.6%
11 May NZ Q1 HLFS Employment 0.0% 0.3%
Q1 HLFS Unemployment Rate 3.6% 3.6%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (9 May)
• NZ Q1 LCI and QES Review (8 May)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (8 May
• 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)
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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