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Monday May 15, 2006 - 22:04:53 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD hits four-week low vs USD
The NZD traded near the bottom of the past week’s range on Monday after the market’s negative outlook on the currency was reinforced by a slip in monthly retail sales figures. It also lost ground on the crosses setting a new 23 month low against the yen, a three and a half year low against the euro and held close to a four and half year trough versus the Australian dollar. Overnight the NZD hit a four week low against the US dollar as the greenback gained some respite from its relentless bear trend over concerns of a potential commodities bubble.

Australian Dollar: Risk aversion the theme of the day
The AUD was sold sharply from the opening bell with the weight of selling triggering stops at 0.7690 and taking the currency down to an intraday low of 0.7683. The slip from 11 month highs against the US dollar was largely caused by weaker metals prices and profit taking on equity investments as the share market fell. Overnight the AUD fell further to post a 2-week low of 0.7607 as the US dollar recouped some of its losses and gold was sold heavily.

Major Currencies: Commodities sell-off sends USD higher
FX markets wanted to take the USD lower yesterday, following a WSJ article suggesting “the Bush administration is quietly acquiescing in the dollar’s recent slide”. This saw USD/JPY open sub-109.50, and when China set USD/CNY below 8.00, the first day trading below this level, USD/JPY traded down to 109.33. Asharp drop in the price of gold and other commodities helped the USD recover overnight, with gold suffering its biggest 1 day fall in over 6 years amid concerns of a commodities bubble hurting economic growth. Copper was down 8% and oil down 3%. Weakness in Asian and European equity markets added further support to the USD, and softer than expected US data was largely ignored by the market. The eurolost almost 200 points, from yesterday’s highs at 1.2972, to the lows where we open this morning around 1.2785. The GBP is also down around 200 points, opening around 1.8780, and the yen is back above 110, at 110.30.

Japanese data: March machinery orders fell 5.2%. Apr corporate goods price index rose 0.5%, 2.5%yr. March current account surplus widened to ¥1691bn.

US NY Fed index slips from 15.8 to 12.4 in May. The Empire State index slipped further in May to its lowest reading since June last year. However we caution against reading too much into this. The index has begun to display a tendency to be weak in May, due, we think, to seasonal adjustment factors that are heavily distorted because of the Iraq war in 2003. A rebound is likely in coming months.

Net foreign sales of US securities (i.e. the TIC data) amounted to $69.8bn in Mar, down from $90.5bn in Feb. Despite the lower outcome (mainly due to lower official inflows, from the likes of central banks), the quarter as a whole is still on track to just about cover the likely current account deficit of around $220bn.

Canadian manufacturing shipments rose 1.6% in March, failing to fully reverse the declines recorded in the first two months of this year. The rebound was constrained by weakness in auto shipments. With the underlying trend softening, it does appear that the manufacturing sector is slowing somewhat, perhaps due to ongoing C$ strength – just 10 canuck cents away from parity with the greenback!

Canadian new vehicle sales rose 1.1% in March, in line with guidance given previously by StatsCan. Their guidance for April is that the number of vehicles sold “reversed direction, giving up all of the gains in March”.

UK house prices rose at a 3.3% yr annual pace in March, according to the Deputy Prime Minister’s office series, slightly softer than the 3.4% yr rate recorded in February. Also, that is well weaker than some of the other (more up-to-date) UK house price measures, one of which posted an 8.0% yr annual rate for April. Also, the UK leading indicator rose 0.6% in March, it’s fifth non-negative outcome in a row, the longest such string of outcomes since 2003.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
Aust Treasury Secretary Speaking
US Apr PPI/Core 0.5%/0.1% 0.9%/0.2%
Apr House Starts/Permits -7.8%/-3.9% -3.0%/-3.0%
Apr Industrial Production 0.6% 0.6%
Jpn Apr Consumer Confidence 48.2 48.5
Ger May ZEW Economic Sentiment 62.7 60.0
UK Apr House Prices Net Balance % 13 n/f
Apr CPI %yr 1.8% 2.0%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q1 Retail Sales Review (15 May)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (15 May)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (15 May)
• NZ Q1 HLFS Review (11 May)
• 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)
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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