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Thursday August 17, 2006 - 22:05:44 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD meanders
The NZD drifted sideways for much of Thursday but failed to test vresistance at 0.6450 after its sharp rally the previous night. There were no local data releases yesterday and the market was content to let the NZD consolidate above 0.6400 in a 0.6408 to 0.6430 range. Some encouraging US data released late in the day saw NZD softness just prior to the close. The NZD trades circa 0.6390 as we go to print.

Australian Dollar: Interest rate yields hurt AUD
Yesterday’s release of Average Weekly Wage data for May indicated wage pressures were not a cause for local inflation. Interest rates in Australia ratcheted lower as a result of the wage data and in sympathy with the US yield curve, which is also producing lower yields following July’s benign inflation data. Lower local yields weighed on the AUD and the currency slipped from 0.7690 to 0.7660 during local trade. The poor sentiment was compounded when the US Philly Fed index proved stronger than expected; the AUD fell to 0.7601 and opens today a touch higher at 0.7610.

Major Currencies: US business activity helps USD rebound
The USD reclaimed some of the previous two days losses following a stronger-than-expected August Philadelphia Fed index, which is a respected indicator of business activity in the US Mid-Atlantic region. The euro reached an overnight high of 1.2887 before the release of the Philly Fed report; following the report the euro pulled back to a low of 1.2813 and opens today around 1.2825. The GBP fell to a three week low of 1.8815 on expectations the Bank of England will keep monetary policy on hold. The yen opens today around 115.95 after a weakening overnight.

US Philly Fed index jumps to 18.5 in August. The Philadelphia Fed factory index headline bounced sharply this month, to its highest since April last year. Philly district manufacturing firms reported faster growth in orders and especially shipments, although the pace of new hiring moderated a tad. The prices paid measure was lower, perhaps capturing the pull-back in the oil price from the $78 per barrel recorded in July and also earlier this month.

US leading index fell 0.1% in July, with just two standout components: a 0.2 ppt drag from building permits, and a 0.1 ppt positive from the manufacturing workweek. The other eight
components were little changed. Annual growth in the leading index has slowed from around 9% in 2004 to 2% earlier this year and just 0.9% yr in July. That points to a significant slowdown in the US economy heading into 2007, although not (yet!) a recession; in 2001 when the economy was close to recession, annual growth in the index fell to below –2%.

US initial jobless claims fell 10k to 312k. Claims were unremarkable in the payrolls survey week. The four week average was down from 317k in the July survey week to 311k this month, but July was inflated by the annual auto plant shutdowns for new model retooling. So the best we can say is that claims appear to suggest a similar pace of jobs growth in July and August.

The Euroland CPI was revised down a tick to 2.4% yr in July, although it remains above the European Central Bank’s “close to but below 2%” price stability definition. The core rate held steady at 1.4%. Industrial production was subdued in June, in line with the message from the national IP reports. Annual growth in Euroland IP slowed from 5.2% yr to 4.3% yr.

UK retail sales down 0.3% in July, mainly due to a sharp 3.4% fall in household goods sales. This result confirms that the recent strength in the UK consumer data was not sustainable, with the World Cup and the warm weather now behind us.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Jul Net Migration annual 10.7k n/f
Aust RBA Governor Speaking
US Aug UoM Consumer Sent (Prelim) 84.7 83.5
Eur Jun Trade Balance EURbn –0.9 n/f
Ger Jul Producer Prices %yr 6.1% n/f
UK Jul PSNCR £bn 13.2 n/f
Jul M4 Money Supply %yr 13.5 n/f
Can Jun Wholesale Sales 0.9% 0.3%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• 50 year mortgages: of pros and cons (14 August)
• NZ Q2 Retail Sales Review (14 August)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (14 August)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (14 August)
• NZ Q2 HLFS Review (10 August)
• NZ Q2 LCI and QES Review (7 August)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (7 August)
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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