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Thursday January 25, 2007 - 20:22:46 GMT
Westpac Institutional Bank - www.westpac.co.nz

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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar OCR left unchanged at 7.25% but tightening bias increased
The NZD opened around 0.6955 and treaded water ahead of the RBNZ rate decision. Seconds before the announcement the NZD fell sharply, triggering stops at 0.6945 then free falling to a session low of 0.6925 with little resistance offered. However very little time was spent here as buyers rushed in after the rate announcement came out “unchanged” and the accompanying statement was considered to be very hawkish. This took the NZD back up to the 0.7000 level in short order where it remained for the rest of the day. Overnight the currency traded above 0.7000 with good buying interest from the US and UK clearers buying NZD vs AUD with the cross reaching an 11 month high of 0.9030. As we go to print the NZD has dropped around 30 points to sit just above 0.6960 after the USD staged a late rally.

Australian Dollar: AUD falls out of favour
The AUD fell to a two week low against the USD and JPY with the soft CPI data from the previous session weighing heavily on the currency. Despite the negative sentiment the AUD managed to recover some ground to get back over 0.7800 but never looked comfortable at this
evel and tumbled further overnight with plenty of selling interest from all directions. Once 0.7780 was cleared 0.7760 became the next target and thanks to a late USD rally on the back of higher treasury yields AUD has just posted a two month low of 0.7730.

Major Currencies: JPY rally pulls up short
The JPY enjoyed more gains in our local session following on from speculation overnight that yen weakness would be addressed at the upcoming G7 meeting. In addition, hawkish comments from a BoJ member added a bid tone to JPY. Overnight saw the gains erased as news hit the wires that JPY weakness would not be an issue at the G7 meeting. This saw USD/JPY bounce from its lows around 120.27 to push to an intraday high of 121.10. Elsewhere, the USD hardly reacted to news that existing home sales fell more than expected in Dec. Theeuro had a lazy day before a brief foray above 1.3000 at the close of the local session. However a weaker than expected German business sentiment report saw the euro dip towards the days lows around 1.2965 where it opens this morning.

Japan's trade surplus narrowed in Dec. In seasonally adjusted terms the surplus fell to ¥658bn from ¥977bn in Nov. A 6% jump in nominal imports left a 0.3% gain in exports in the shade. As far as volumes go, exports have sound momentum at 5.5%yr (up from 4.0%), while imports are lagging slightly (4.2%yr, up from 2.5%).

US existing home sales down 0.8% in Dec. Existing home sales fell slightly in December, after modest gains in September and October. That decline probably reflects the cold snap earlier in Q4, which would have affected viewings and signings at the time, such that sales closings a month or so later (i.e. in December) were down [this report measures sales when they are finalised, not when they are first agreed]. With the weather unseasonably warm in December and January, we should see existing home sales rise in coming months.

US initial jobless claims jumped 36k to 325k last week, reversing the dip to below 300k over the prior two weeks. We can speculate that this reflects the onset of colder weather, meaning that outdoor workers, employed while the weather was unseasonally warm, were finally laid off. Note that these layoffs will have occurred too late to impact on the January payrolls report.

The German Ifo index fell 0.8 pts from its record high in Jan, led by the steepest drop in the current conditions measure since Sep 2001. However the expectations index posted a fourth consecutive monthly gain. We can confidently speculate that the 7000 firms surveyed by the Ifo felt some sort of impact from the 3% VAT hike at the start of this month. Also, the Feb GfK consumer confidence reading (surveyed in early Jan) was at a 12 month low, falling from 8.5 to 4.8. That is also likely to reflect the VAT rise. Finally, the Euroland current account recorded its first deficit in three months in Nov, of €2.bn.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
Aust Australia Day holiday
US Dec Durable Goods Orders 1.6% 6.0%
Dec New Home Sales 3.4% 3.0%
Jpn Dec National CPI %yr 0.3% 0.3%
Jan Tokyo CPI %yr 0.3% 0.2%
Dec Corporate Services Prices %yr –0.1% n/f
Eur Dec M3 Money Supply %yr 9.3% 9.0%
UK Dec Mortgage Data £bn

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Economic Overview January 2007 (25 January)
• RBNZ OCR Review (25 January)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (23 January)
• NZ inflation expectations (18 January)
• RBNZ OCR Preview (17 January)
• NZ Q4 CPI Review (17 January)
• NZ Q4 QSBO Review (16 January)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (15 January)
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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14:00 CA- BOC Decision
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