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Tuesday May 16, 2006 - 21:35:49 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD recovers from 1 month low
The NZD opened up yesterday with a bid tone climbing back through 0.6200 to reach an intra-day high of 0.6235. The currency then settled back into a holding pattern of 0.6220-0.6230 until comments from Bollard sent the currency lower. Bollard told Reuters he was “not uncomfortable” with the currency’s fall, which saw the NZD tumble quickly to 0.6205. Overnight the NZD staged a recovery to reach a session high of 0.6283 having been driven higher by USD weakness and demand from US investment banks and prime names. Reports of another earthquake in the South Pacific saw the NZD sell off 20 points before a Tsunami warning came out saying “no risk of a tsunami”.

Australian Dollar: AUD recovers but still susceptible to commodity weakness
The AUD lifted off a two-week low on Tuesday as the USD pared its gains on major currencies. The AUD rally was limited by uncertainty about how much further commodity prices could fall. Overnight the AUD initially drifted lower to sit just above 0.7600 before climbing steadily to reach a high of 0.7693 as traders sold the USD after a round of poor economic data announcements out of the US.

Major Currencies: USD weakness prevails
Data out of the US overnight was mixed. Firstly, both PPI and housing starts came in below expectations, adding to poor USD sentiment. The second round of data (IP and capacity utilisation) came in stronger than expected, but the USD benefited little from it. US names were seen selling USD/JPY yesterday morning, while Japanese names took over in the afternoon. The yen remained strong overnight, with stops taken out below 109.90. Both the strong yen and higher gold prices contributed to USD weakness. ECB member Noyer commented in an interview that sharp exchange rate moves between the major currencies would be contrary to G7 wishes for rebalancing the global economy, particularly if the moves hampered economic growth in the euro zone. The euro slipped about 30 pips following the comments, but USD weakness prevailed and we open this morning around 1.2855.

US PPI up 0.9% in April, but core producer price inflation remained subdued at 0.1%, held down by a renewed decline in auto prices (which failed to provide much of a boost to sales). The headline was boosted by a 12.3% jump in gasoline prices, and there were pockets of strength further back along the production line, most notably in core crude material prices – capturing the recent upswing in metals prices.

US house starts/permits down 7%/5% in Apr. The housing data were unequivocally negative, much weaker than even our well below consensus forecasts. Starts have now reversed all of their Jan warm weather spike, indeed their April level was the lowest in over a year. Permits, meanwhile, dipped to their lowest in more than two years.

US industrial production posted a solid 0.8%, manufacturing driven gain in April – despite a fall in auto sector output. Consumer goods output was subdued at 0.1%, but business equipment surged 1.8%, consistent with the view that consumer activity will moderate from its Q1 surge, whereas business spending should remain robust in Q2. Capacity use rose to 81.9%, but still remains well below the peak levels seen in the mid and then late 1990s.

German ZEW survey falls from 62.7 to 50.0 in May. The ZEW survey of German analysts and economists’ views regarding their own economy and the Eurozone recorded further (steeper) declines in May. It seems that ECB rate rises, surging oil prices, diminished enthusiasm for the new government and the stronger euro were factors at play.

Euroland industrial production rose 0.4% in March, stronger than available national data had suggested would be the case, but the recent profile is still pretty sluggish.

UK April CPI blipped higher to 2.0% yr, due to petrol prices, household gas bills and airfares. But core inflation remained subdued at 1.3% yr. Also surveyors’ institute (RICS) house price measure appears to have levelled off in recent months, suggesting further acceleration in house prices is less likely.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Q1 Producers Price Index (Outputs) 0.3% 0.6%
Aust Q1 Wage Price Index %qtr 0.9% 0.9%
May Westpac-MI Consumer Sentiment flat n/f
US Apr CPI/Core 0.4%/0.3% 0.6%/0.1%
Eur Apr CPI (F) %yr 2.4%a 2.4%
Mar Industrial Production flat –0.8%
UK May Bank of England Minutes
Apr Unemployment Change 12.6k 8.0k

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 (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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