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Monday June 26, 2006 - 21:01:08 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD languishes below 0.6100 ahead of Fed
The NZD struggled yesterday as investors turned their attention to an expected rise in US interest rates later this week. The NZD settled towards 0.6050 during the domestic session and down to 0.6028 overnight with the firmer tone and direction of the USD. The market expects the Fed to raise rates for the 17th straight time and issue a hawkish statement that might signal a further rise. RBNZ Governor Bollard comments during the weekend, where he professed not to have a view on the appropriate level for the NZD, but did expect the current account to "go a little worse this year" also tended to weigh on the currency. We open this morning around 0.6040.

Australian Dollar: AUD waits around 0.7300 for the Fed
The AUD touched a fresh two-month low of 0.7303 yesterday as investors counted down to higher US interest rates. It was a dull day for the AUD which saw it trade a tight 25 point range and optionrelated defence against further weakness being sparked just above 0.7300. However the defence didn’t hold as the AUD dropped below the figure to 0.7292 overnight. The growth in Australian wage agreements moderated in Q1, after spiking in Q4, which also held the currency down. We open today’s trading around 0.7320.

Major Currencies: Hawkish ECB, talk of reserve diversification sees euro rally
A quiet Asian session yesterday saw both the euro and the yen trade in narrow ranges. More hawkish comments from ECB members, this time Wellink, Quaden and Mersch, saw the euro trade to a fresh record high of 146.38 against the yen, and up through 1.2600 against the USD overnight. The euro also found support from talk of reserve diversification by Middle Eastern central banks at the BIS meeting in Switzerland. The yen was stronger on the day, despite comments in the British press that Fukui was’50/50’ to keep his job and that ‘currency brokers said that his resignation could drive the yen down 3 cents against the dollar’. Overnight, comments from BoJ’s Mizuno saying that the BoJ was on track to end its zero interest rate policy saw the yen trade down to 116.09. Stronger than expected new home sales data in the US had little impact on the dollar, with the trend still pointing to a slowdown in the US housing market.

Japanese May corporate services prices at –0.2%yr. That assumes a 0.3% decline on the month, marking the fourth in the last six readings and the second in a row. That follows tentative signs of reflation with back to back rises in February-March. We are not done with deflation just yet, but the portents are unambiguously sound.

US new home sales jump 4.6% in May. New home sales surprised by posting a third consecutive monthly gain in May, for a cumulative rise of 18.9% since February. That result stands in contrast to declines in most other housing indicators. That said, the trend in new home sales is still downward. They peaked at an annualised pace of 1367k in July last year, and totalled 1280k in all of 2005. In May, sales were down to 1234k annualised. Also, the stock of unsold homes remained very high at 556k, equivalent to 5.5 months’ supply. That would explain the swathe of recent anecdotes regarding the sales incentives being employed by overstocked new home vendors, including luxury cars and country club memberships.

The German CPI edged higher to 2.0% yr in June, with state data breakdowns showing transport as the main driver of the rise. However on an EU harmonised basis, inflation was steady at 2.1% yr, so Friday’s flash estimate of the Euroland CPI for June will probably be unchanged at 2.5% yr.

Various European Central Bank officials spoke last night. Perhaps the most hawkish-sounding was Yves Mersch of the Luxembourg Central Bank. He implied that the ECB could step up the pace of monetary tightening, by saying that “we’ve never said that we can only act every three months and by 25 basis points”. He also said that rates could be lifted at the August 3 meeting. That is the presummer holiday meeting, that is usually conducted over the phone, and there is no press conference scheduled. Conventional wisdom is that the ECB would not move rates at that meeting.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
26 Jun US May Existing Home Sales –2.0% –2.0%
Jun Consumer Confidence 103.2 105.0
Jun Richmond Fed Manuf Index 1 8
Eur Jun Ifo Business Climate Index 105.6 105.5
UK May Mortgage Data
28 Jun NZ Q2 Consumer Confidence 109.3 n/f
May Merchandise Trade NZDmn 19 –18

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (26 June)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (26 June)
• NZ Balance of Payments: Follow the money (26 June)
• NZ Q1 GDP Review (23 June)
• NZ Q1 Current Account Review (22 June)
• NZ Q1 GDP Preview (19 June)
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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