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    Final stages (afffectin a no of stocks) MCSI FreeF http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/05/26/1022243290548.html
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    Reserve Bank governor's report holds the keyBy Jan EakinMay 27 2002
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    Vigilant ... some economists believe Mr Macfarlane could raise rates as early as next week. Photo: Jessica Shapiro
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    Ian Macfarlane will be the focus of financial markets this week with economists scrutinising the Reserve Bank governor's every word as he delivers his final report ahead of next week's interest rate meeting.
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    In front of the House Economics Committee on Friday, Mr Macfarlane is expected to remain conservative in his views of the economic cycle.
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    Key to his recommendation will be the release of the latest business investment survey on Thursday and April exports due out on Wednesday.
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    "If exports continue to strengthen and the investment outlook is robust ... Macfarlane has not only a strong case for further [interest rate] increases, but also for making the second next week," HSBC chief economist John Edwards said.
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    Kieran Davies, of ABN Amro, believes the strength of business investment is important enough to alter the odds of a rate hike next week.
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    "Our view has been that the Reserve Bank is likely to raise rates soon, with a July move more likely than a back-to-back move after the June board meeting," Mr Davies said.
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    "If we saw strong evidence of an upgrade to investment intentions . ... then we would be forced to factor in a higher probability of a June move, subject to the tone and substance of the governor's Parliamentary testimony," Mr Davies said.
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    The Reserve Bank increased rates from 4.25 per cent to 4.5 per cent last month.
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    Interest this week will also centre on the Australian dollar and whether the recovery witnessed over the past few weeks can be sustained.
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    "We expect the dollar to be US60c by the end of the year, but it's done an awful lot recently and is now due for a short-term retracement," ABN Amro economic strategist Douglas Orr said.
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    HSBC's Mr Edwards believes the depreciation of the US dollar against the local currency, the euro and the yen could signal a major correction.
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    "The impact on Australia and New Zealand will partly depend on how quickly US dollar-denominated trade prices change to reflect the changed international value of the US dollar," Mr Edwards said.
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    While Wall Street will be closed for Memorial Day tonight, the sharemarket is expected to benefit from increased trading activity as global fund managers who follow the Morgan Stanley Capital International indices rejig their portfolios.
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    The final stage of moving the MSCI indices to a free-float basis takes place on Friday. Banks have been the biggest stock-specific beneficiaries as their individual weightings increase, but News Corp and Telstra suffer under the new methodology, which takes into account only shares that are freely tradable in the market.
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    The Murdoch family's 30 per cent stake in News Corp, for example, will no longer be included in the calculation.
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    Research released last week by Credit Suisse First Boston suggests index buying of $1.4 billion in the second stage of the rebalance, compared with $600 million worth of selling. But CSFB points out that a large portion of the buying and selling has already been completed, with fewer large MSCI trades in the past few weeks compared with the lead-up to the first stage of the transition last November.
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    "We estimate that around half of the index funds in the world have already transitioned to the MSCI standard index," the broker said.
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    "Consequently, we expect a smaller market impact than that observed for the November 30 rebalance."
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