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Monday March 5, 2007 - 20:06:00 GMT
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Forex Research - Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD suffers on more carry unwind
NZD/USD opened around 0.6890 yesterday morning and was paid to the high almost immediately as thin liquidity gripped the market. Mid morning saw the release of Q4 wholesale sales which fell 0.5% for the quarter but the data was ignored by financial markets. However the theme of risk aversion continued which saw the NZD under pressure - particularly against the JPY. NZD/USD sold off hard in early afternoon trading testing 0.6800 as reports circulated that the Japanese media would report on carry trade concerns. Offshore trading saw the local currency again hammered breaking through 0.6800 and posting a low of 0.6738 – a level not seen since November 2006.

Australian Dollar: AUD eyes 0.7700 again
Risk aversion also weighed on AUD/USD during the local session with the AUD losing over 1% against the greenback on the day. Opening at the days highs around 0.7825 the currency ranged quietly during the morning. However a host of data releases in early afternoon trading helped create volatility in the currency pair. Business indicators for Feb posted a strong result as sales and incomes came in stronger than anticipated. Feb’s monthly inflation gauge rose 0.2% and points to risks of a rebound in the RBA core inflation measure. However the data did little to halt the currency’s slide and AUD/USD posted a low of 0.7752 in the local session. The rot continued overnight as AUD/JPY broke through key support levels and AUD/USD eventually touched a low 0.7719.

Major Currencies: Risk aversion continues to drive currencies
The fallout in the JPY continued yesterday with further risk aversion dominating the days trading. News that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange had increased its margin requirements for futures contracts for both spot yen and yen cross currency contracts saw the currency quickly fall from 116.80 to 115.50 in a market that was already on edge. The move was particularly noticeable against the euro, which saw the cross rate fall from 154.00 to just below 151.00. The GBP also fell sharply yesterday and overnight on news that HSBC would have to write off US$11bn in bad debts due to defaults in the US sub-prime market. Elsewhere, a report that showed US non-manufacturing ISM data had its lowest reading in four years at 54.3 was largely ignored as the market was more focused on risk aversion related activity.

Japanese capital spending robust in Q4. Capital spending ex software rose 5.2% s.a. from the prior quarter. Including software, spending rose 17.8% from a year ago. Overall sales were solid at 1.6%qtr, although non-manufacturers saw a rather meek 0.8% gain.

US non-manufacturing ISM fell from 59.0 to 54.3 in Feb. The services ISM fell even more sharply than we had expected last month, to its lowest in nearly four years. The seasonal factors reversed from being flattering in Jan to unfriendly in Feb. That is best illustrated by the relatively steady orders and jobs detail in the report over the past two months, in contrast to the big swings in the headline. The colder weather and rising gasoline prices would also have been factors at play.

The Canadian PMI manufacturing continued to bounce back from its Dec low just below 50. That is in line with normal seasonal patterns, although in February last year the index stood at 59.5, so this February’s result at 60.5 suggests, if anything, that Canadian manufacturing is doing OK. The C$ depreciation since the last quarter of 2006 may have been a helping factor.

Euroland services PMI slipped to 57.5 in Feb but remains in a modest up-trend from its recent low at 56.5 in October last year. Even so, the recent peak was 60.7 in June last year, so the overall message is one of slight moderation in services sector growth since the middle of last year. Note that the German PMI services index reversed all of its surprise 0.7 pts rise in January, by falling 1.1 pts in February – perhaps a delayed reaction to the 3% VAT hike.

The UK services PMI down 1.8 pts to 57.4 in Feb. A second consecutive decline after a string of gains through H2 2006. This is its lowest reading for five months: it may be the case that the three rate rises since Aug are starting to impact. With other data on mortgages and house prices also a touch softer of late, and share markets tumbling, the case for the Bank of England monetary policy committee leaving rates on hold this week is getting stronger.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
Aust Q1 Westpac-ACCI Survey 54.9 n/f
Jan Trade Balance AUDbn –1.34 –1.3
Jan Dwelling Approvals –1.9% –1.5%
Q4 Public Spending 0.5% 1.3%
US Q4 Productivity Rev % ann’lsd 3.0%a 0.7%
Q4 Unit Labour Costs Rev % ann’lsd 1.7%a 3.0%
Jan Pending Home Sales 4.9% –2.0%
Jan Factory Orders 2.4% –4.5%
Fedspeak: Plosser
Eur Jan Retail Sales 0.3% –0.5%
Q4 GDP Revision 0.9%a 0.9%
UK Feb BRC Retail Monitor 3.1% n/f
Can Jan Building Permits –7.8% 1.5%
Bank of Canada Rate Decision 4.25% 4.25%

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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