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Thursday March 22, 2007 - 21:58:26 GMT
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Forex Market News - Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar Bullish tone continues to support NZD
After opening with a firm tone yesterday in the wake of the US Federal Reserve dropping its reference to further interest rate hikes, the NZD failed to make any headway higher after its recent strong run and spent the rest of the day quietly consolidating in a narrow range. AUD strength drove the NZD higher overnight, trading just shy of 0.7150. However, with insufficient support to sustain the move, the currency drifted back but still opens comfortably above 0.7100 this morning.

Australian Dollar: Yield advantage supports AUD
Recent comments about the possibility of another interest rate hike in Australia and the reduced likelihood of a rate hike in the US have focussed markets attention on the yield gap between the two currencies, in turn helping the AUD rally for the sixth consecutive day to reach its highest level since Dec 1996. The markets now appear to be targeting 0.8100 in the absence of reasons to sell the currency. An attempt was made on this level overnight, however profit-taking saw the AUD ease back; however it still opens strongly today around 0.8060.

Major Currencies: USD rebounds as market reevaluates FOMC statement
Z The USD strengthened on Friday, reversing from a fresh two year low against the euro of 1.3412, as the market re-evaluated the prospect of a near-term cut in US interest rates. Although the Fed removed any
reference to the possibility of raising rates in its FOMC statement, that they continue to cite concerns over inflation has been seen as an indication that, equally, they may not be in any hurry to cut rates. USD/JPY rose from a low of 117.35 to post an intraday high of 118.32 following comments from BoJ governor Fukui stating that the BoJ didn’t want to be seen by the markets has having a tightening bias. Elsewhere, Sterling rose to a six week high of 1.9729 after robust retail sales data further bolstered the case for another rate rise in the UK.

Japanese preliminary trade balance for Feb came in at ¥655bn, down from ¥1052bn, vs a forecast of ¥426bn.

Japanese Q1 BSI all-enterprise business conditions +6.2%qtr. The large manufacturing component was at +0.1% qtr, and non-manufacturing came in well above expectations at +9.8%qtr. The general tone of the survey is optimistic, with business conditions, domestic activity, profits and employment all recording favourable outcomes and robust expectations.

US initial jobless claims fall 4k to 316k. Claims continued to drift lower in the March non farm payrolls survey week, and in the prior week, continuing claims more than reversed their prior week’s spike. That points to an improved labour market picture in the March payrolls report, compared to February.

US leading index very weak.It was revised down sharply to –0.3% in Jan due to that month’s plunge in orders and fell more steeply (0.5%) in Feb. That fall was explained mostly by last month’s jump in initial claims – since reversed – as well as lower consumer sentiment, building permits and supplier delivery times. Orders were assumed to post a rise (they are due next week). Smoothed annual growth in this index is down to around 0% yr, a pace which it last fell to in the leadup to the 2001 recession. But note that the leading index has a reputation for picking six of the last three recessions – so it can give duff signals. More likely it is merely warning us that growth might slow further from Q4’s subdued 2.2% annualised pace.

Euroland factory orders down 0.2% in Jan. The modest pullback in orders was less than preliminary national data suggested might be the case. It followed a rare three month string of orders growth right through Q4, so the underlying story is still strong – annual growth is 12.0% yr. Also, the trade surplus narrowed in January due to an export pull-back and stronger imports.

UK retail sales jump 1.4% in Feb. The bounce in retail sales last month shows the UK consumer is still spending. True, the three month retail growth rate slowed from 1.4% in Q4 to 1.1% in the three months to Feb, but that is still solid. Also, the CBI factory survey was strong in March.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
23 Mar US Feb Existing Home Sales 3.0% –3.0%
Fedspeak: Lacker, Plosser and Geithner
Jpn Jan All-Industry Activity flat 0.6%
Eur Jan Current Acct Bal €bn s.a. 2.3 2.5
26 Mar NZ Feb Merch Trade Bal NZDmn –833 –230
Aust RBA Financial Stability Review
US Feb New Home Sales -16.6% 4.6%
Jpn BoJ Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes for Feb

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q4 Current Account Preview (22 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (19 March)
• Bubble, Schmubble (16 March)
• NZ Agribiz March 2007 (15 March)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (12 March)
• RBNZ MPS Review (8 March)
• NZ Q4 Terms of Trade (8 March)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac
Institutional Bank’s website (

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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AA: Major, A: High, B: Medium

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A 12:30 US- Housing Starts/Permits
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AA 1:30 AU- Employment
AA 08:30 GB- Retail Sales
A 14:30 US- EIA Crude
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Fri 20 Jun 2018
A 12:30 CA- CPI/Retail Sales

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