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Tuesday February 27, 2007 - 21:00:34 GMT
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Forex News- Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD falls overnight on USD strength
The NZD opened strongly yesterday, initially trading above 0.7100 before settling below that level as importers took advantage of attractive levels, both against the USD and against the crosses. The much anticipated inflation expectations data was released in the afternoon showing inflationary pressures are expected to ease to 2.7% for this year and 2.6% for next year. This had no impact on the currency with the NZD ending the day just shy of 0.7100. Broad based USD weakness coupled with unwinding of JPY/NZD
carry trades saw the NZD fall sharply overnight, with the currency opening today just above 0.7000.

Australian Dollar: AUD steady in see-saw trading
The AUD rose to an eight week high around 0.7945 yesterday on yield related demand as speculation grew that continued weak U.S. data may support the case for an interest rate cut in the U.S., further making Australia an attractive yield destination. Higher commodity prices also helped underpin the currency. However it was a different story overnight as USD weakness has seen all of yesterdays gains eroded, with the AUD opening just above 0.7900 this morning.

Major Currencies: Growing tensions with Iran impact on markets
A session packed full of incident saw the USD fall sharply against the yen as soft US economic data, a plunge in global stocks and growing tensions with Iran led investors to pare back long USD positions. USD/JPY fell from 120.00 to 118.50 with yen also finding support on the crosses as traders exited the carry trade. Euro rose to a two month high of 1.3260 against the dollar but struggled to push higher after a story on the wires from unnamed ECB sources suggested that the ECB is now undecided on whether it should signal rate hikes beyond March with inflation consistently below 2%.

US consumer confidence rises to 112.5 in Feb. Consumer confidence posted a surprise rise in Feb, as the Conference Board survey’s respondents apparently shrugged off the concern about renewed gasoline price rises that pushed other sentiment surveys lower this month. The gain was concentrated in the present situation measure, and mainly reflected a stronger assessment of business conditions, although the job market index posted a modest further gain. Expectations were little changed. In contrast, the Richmond Fed survey of manufacturing was very weak at –10 in Feb.

US existing home sales up 3.0% in Jan. Because this report measures sale closures, it actually reflects sales that were agreed earlier, most likely in December. That was when new home sales were rising and the weather was mild. It may also have helped that prices were soft – the median price was down from $222k to just $211k in Jan.

US durable goods orders slumped 7.8% in Jan. Civilian aircraft orders slumped 60%, consistent with reports from Boeing, but even excluding that factor, the message was undeniably soft, with ex transport orders down more than 3%. Core capital goods orders posted their third (and steepest at 6%) decline in four months, suggesting business investment spending will not impress in the first quarter.

Euroland money supply growth hit at an all-time high at 9.8% in Dec-Jan, although growth in loans to the private sector slowed from 10.7% to 10.6% yr. That’s still too strong for the European Central Bank, but it is a sign that higher rates are starting to impact.

The Euroland retail PMI recovered partially this month after last month’s German VAT hike-driven slump. The German CPI showed no evidence of prices continuing to push higher following the VAT rise.

UK mortgage data for Jan from the British Bankers’ Association were mixed – full industry figures due Thurs.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Jan Building Consents % mth s.a. –4.9% 8.0%
Aus Jan Credit 0.9% 1.0%
Q4 Construction Work Done –2.1% 1.0%
US Q4 GDP Revised 3.5% 2.5%
Jan New Home Sales 4.8% –4.0%
Feb Chicago Fed PMI 48.8 51.0
Jpn Jan Industrial Production 0.9% –1.3%
Jan Retail Sales %yr –0.3% 0.2%
Jan Housing Starts %yr 10.2% n/f
Eur Feb Business Climate Index 1.40 1.45
Feb Consumer Confidence –7 –7
Feb Economic Sentiment 109.2 109.5
Jan Unemployment Rate % 7.5% 7.4%
Jan CPI (F) %yr 1.9%a 1.9%
Ger Jan Retail Sales 2.6% –2.5%
Feb Unemployment ch’ –106k n/f
UK Feb GfK Consumer Confidence –7 –9

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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