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Wednesday February 7, 2007 - 20:05:16 GMT
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Forex Research: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD/USD regains 0.6800 handle
The NZD looked destined to spend most of Wednesday below 0.6800 but managed to find good demand out of Asia late local time and NZD/AUD flows favoured NZD for most of the day. Market focus was on this weekend’s G7 meeting hence the strong US data went largely unnoticed allowing the NZD to consolidate around 0.6830 during the offshore sessions. A high was traded at 0.6858 before settling at 0.6845 on the close. Today’s market mover might be the NZ Q4 employment data due out at 10.45am.

Australian Dollar: Tight ranges a result of thin AUD trading
There was little interest in the AUD yesterday with the market gearing up for the Jan employment data releases today. Much of the flow came though NZD/AUD trading where buyers of NZD against the AUD were noted. AUD/USD failed to break a narrow 0.7760 – 0.7787 range for the whole of Wednesday and we look towards the employment data to provide some fresh impetus.

Major Currencies: G7 may not resolve yen weakness
The yen has weakened from yesterday’s previous low of 120.00 to 120.78 overnight as continued speculation that the Group of Seven (G7) finance officials will not resolve the yen’s current weakness
given it is not going to be the main issue of discussion at this weekend’s G7 meeting. This morning USD/JPY opens at 120.70. The euro firmed up a little to a high of 1.3025 ahead of today’s ECB rate decision that is widely expected to be an ‘on hold’ decision. Thestatement following from ECB president Trichet will be watched carefully for indications of future direction of euro zone interest rates. The GBP traded a range either side of 1.9700 yesterday, reaching a high of 1.9735. The BoE will also meet tonight and are widely expected to leave rates on hold. However there have been surprise hikes in recent times that are keeping some traders weary.

ZUS productivity growth accelerated to 3.0% annualised in Q4 last year. This reflected stronger economic growth which was achieved by a slower increase in hours worked. As a consequence, even though hourly compensation increased at a faster rate, unit labour costs growth slowed (i.e. productivity grew faster than pay). The report also showed falling non labour unit costs, probably refecting lower energy prices, so the overall price deflator dropping out of the business costs calculations grew at a very mild 0.4% annualised pace. In annual terms, that represents a 1.9% yr gain for the costs deflator, its slowest pace since 2003 (and down from 3+% more recently). That suggests that business costs are now less of an upward pressure on broader inflationary developments in the economy.

Philadelphia Fed president Charles Plosser made some hawkish comments in a speech and then afterwards to gathered journalists. His growth forecast for the US this year is 3%, stronger than Westpac’s 2.7% (unless he’s rounded up!) and he warned that “with growth prospects improving, there is some risk we may not see a return to price stability unless monetary conditions are tightened further... it is too soon to declare victory [against inflation]”. Plosser does not vote on the FOMC this year but we suspect his views are shared by others, probably a majority, on the FOMC.

German industrial sector lost some momentum in late Q4, with IP falling 0.5% in Dec. There was a mild weather boost to the construction component, but energy, manufacturing and mining were negatives.

UK industrial production fell 0.1% in Dec due to a sharp decline in oil & gas output, but overall manufacturing managed a second consecutive monthly gain. January consumer confidence, as surveyed by one of the big building societies, posted a slight gain but remains weak in historical terms. The British Retail Consortium found plenty of evidence of price discounting in their January shop price survey. That suggests that the Jan CPI might fall away from its December high of 3.0% yr.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Q4 HLFS Employment –0.4% 0.5%
Q4 HLFS Unemployment 3.8% 3.6%
Aust Jan Cashcard Retail Index 127.7 n/f
Jan Employment chg 44.6k 5k
Jan Unemployment Rate 4.6% 4.6%
US Initial Jobless Claims w/e 3/2 307k 310k
Dec Wholesale Inventories 1.3% 0.4%
Jpn Jan Bank Lending %yr 1.7% n/f
Eur ECB Rate Decision 3.50% 3.50%
UK BoE Rate Decision 5.25% 5.25%
Q4 House Prices %yr 8.7% n/f
Can Jan Housing Starts 213k 220k
Dec New House Price Index 0.5% 0.4%

Latest Research papers/Publication

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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