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Wednesday November 15, 2006 - 20:49:05 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD up on retail spending
The NZD opened a touch below 0.6600 yesterday before softening mid morning following comments from Governor Bollard in the RBNZ’s Financial Stability Report. The comments, which included a warning that NZD/USD was overvalued relative to economic fundamentals, saw offshore sellers push the currency to its intraday low of 0.6585. The NZD’s stay at this level was short-lived however, as a stronger than expected Q3 retail sales result was released. This saw the NZD move from 0.6590 to 0.6625 and eventually peaked at 0.6639. Afternoon trade was uneventful and there was no reaction to a statement released by rating agency S&P that reaffirmed NZ’s credit rating.

Australian Dollar: AUD fails to fire on data
Despite a raft of mid tier economic data releases AUD/USD traded a tight 13 point range during the local session. Consumer sentiment for November was down and wage growth was not as strong as expected cementing the view that the RBA will keep interest rates static for a while yet. Q3 house price data bucked yesterday’s trend and rose in the September quarter albeit at a slower rate. Overnight trading saw the AUD soften further finding a base at around 0.7630.

Major Currencies: New York manufacturing activity lifts USD
The USD has strengthened against the majors following a better than expected Nov New York manufacturing index reading. This will add some shine to the diminishing picture building for the US economy. This morning saw the release of the US FOMC minutes which mentioned that the Fed remained concerned with inflation threats and will look to data before Dec’s meeting. Sterling has suffered further losses as the BoE quarterly inflation report has showed that inflation is expected to fall to the 2% target by mid 2007, lowering the chance of another interest rate hike. GBP fell to a low of 1.8838 overnight and opens today at 1.8880. The euro has also weakened further with a low overnight of 1.2773 however has recovered slight opening today’s trading around 1.2815. The yen continues to trade a range and opens today around 118.00.

US FOMC minutes. Fed notes less downside risk. The minutes to the Oct 24 meeting indicated the Fed has had some confidence in the economy restored: "the downside risks to economic activity had diminished a little", leaving the risk of inflation not fallen to the extent anticipated as the Fed's biggest concern. Core inflation was still viewed as uncomfortably high, so a rate hike is still a non-zero risk.

US NY Fed survey jumps to 26.7 in Nov. This was stronger than anyone expected, building upon October’s spike with a further rise to a five month high in Nov. It is difficult to dismiss the three consecutive rises in this index, worth a cumulative 16 pts, as an aberration. It really does seem like NY state manufacturing firms are becoming increasingly optimistic. The data on orders, shipments and jobs all point that way too. This is in marked contrast to recent readings from the neighbouring Philly Fed index (very weak in Sep and Oct; Nov due tonight), and the recent downtrend in the national ISM manufacturing survey. Also upbeat were weekly mortgage approvals data. They rose 4.3% last week on top of an 8.8% jump in the prior week.

Canadian manufacturing shipments plunged 3.3% in Sep, their steepest fall in three years. Part of that was due to sharply lower energy prices (shipments are measured on a value, not volume, basis) but auto shipments were also down sharply, both to domestic and US customers. Related to this, auto sales fell 4.2% in September, and the guidance that StatCan gave for October was for a further 2% decline.

Euroland industrial production fell 1.0% in Sep, continuing the tradition of volatility in this series. National data that we had seen prior to this release were not quite as soft.

The BoE quarterly inflation report included revised central projections showing the CPI falling to the 2% target by the middle of 2007, earlier than previously. That projection is based on market pricing; the projections assuming rates remain unchanged were not materially different. So the implication is that the Bank does not feel a further rate rise is currently the most likely outcome. On the data front, unemployment rose slightly in Oct and earnings growth slowed in Sep.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
Aust Oct Merchandise Imports AUDbn 15.0 n/f
Nov MI Inflationary Expectations 3.4% n/f
Q3 Full-Time AWOTE %qtr 0.6% n/f
US Oct CPI/Core –0.5%/0.2% –0.2%/0.2%
Initial Jobless Claims W/E 11/11 308k 310k
Sep Net Foreign Sec Purch USDbn 116.8 67.0
Oct Industrial Production –0.6% 0.3%
Oct Capacity Utilization % 81.9% 81.9%
Nov Philadelphia Fed Index –0.7% 8.0
Nov NAHB Housing Market Index 31 35
Jpn Bank of Japan Decision 0.25% 0.25%
Eur Oct CPI (F) %yr 1.6% a 1.6%
Oct CPI Core %yr 1.5% 1.5%
UK Oct RICS House Prices Bal % 45 43
Oct Retail Sales –0.4% 0.2%

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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