todays markets and trends

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    Market themes & issues
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    AUD and NZD give back some gains.
    After pushing higher through the overnight session, AUD and NZD
    have spent most of today trading heavy and giving back some of the gains.

    Having said that, both currencies were supported on the dip with
    AUD generating buying interest around the 0.9285/90 level. The weak
    Westpac-MI Consumer Sentiment Index weighed on the AUD briefly but did
    not have a lasting impact.
    For the NZD we have seen support around the 0.7945/50 level,
    although the currency has been unable to re-test the highs from earlier
    this morning around the 0.8000 level.
    In general equity markets have traded lower today, which may be
    weighing on risk appetite.
    Elsewhere, USD/JPY has drifted lower but largely remains
    rangebound, with the no change BoJ decision generating little reaction
    from the market.
    It has been a similar story for EUR/USD, which has traded a tight
    around the 1.5700 figure level.

    Taiwan president plays down expectations; USD/Asia stalled.
    Losses for most Asian equity markets supported USD/Asia but again ranges
    were tight.
    USD/SGD sagged to 1.3785 in early Asia but then bounced back
    above 1.3800, with unsurprising talk of MAS bids ahead of Thu's policy
    review.
    The tedium continued on USD/CNY, with spot fixed at 7.0025 and
    barely moving in the morning session, encouraging some short covering in
    NDFs.
    The yuan's NEER - the measure that should be focused on in the
    looming G7 statement - is up about 2% YTD, which might not be so
    impressive to the G7 and IMF and won't do much to hurt Chinese exports.
    Q1 GDP is due next week.
    Taiwan shares were about flat in morning trade, a somewhat better
    than average performance within the region.
    Clearly there was no great concern over the FT interview with
    President Ma in which he stressed the hurdles to increasing economic ties
    with mainland China and generally gave the impression that not much was
    likely to change any time soon. Korean markets were closed.


    Economic data & events
    ----------------------

    Australia consumer sentiment falls for the fourth month. The
    Westpac-Consumer Sentiment falls 1.3% in April.
    This latest fall pushes the Index down to its lowest level since
    June 1993.
    The three months to March showed the sharpest 3 month decline in
    the Index (21.2%) since its introduction in January 1975.
    With the Reserve Bank not raising interest rates since the last
    survey it is reasonable to have expected some modest recovery in the
    Index this month.
    However this further fall emphasises just how concerned
    households must be with the current economic environment.
    A further modest 0.11% average increase in mortgage rates from
    some major banks would have unsettled some households while fuel prices
    were also higher (up 1.2%) over the month.

    The survey highlighted that households' concerns have gone beyond
    angsting about interest rates.
    Confidence of those consumers who rent housing was down sharply
    by 9.3% whereas confidence of those respondents who have a housing loan
    was down by only 0.1%.
    This supports recent research highlighting the current crisis in
    the housing rental market. Three of the five components of the Index fell
    in the month.

    Of most concern was the collapse in sentiment towards buying
    major household items.
    That component fell by 12.7% to be down by 45.8% over the year,
    compared to the annual fall of 24.2% in the overall index.
    A sophisticated statistical analysis by the Melbourne Institute
    indicates that this buying conditions component is significant in
    explaining consumption trends.

    Japan official rates remain unchanged at 0.5%.
    By a unanimous vote the BoJ left the overnight call rate steady
    at 0.50%.
    Japan's upper house has confirmed Shirakawa as BoJ Governor, but
    has rejected the nomination of former MoF official Watanabe as Deputy
    Governor, leaving the policy board with two vacancies.

    Upcoming events (mkt f/c %mth unless indicated otherwise)
    -------------------------

    Still to come today
    Aus Apr MI consumer inflation expectations (last 4.6%)
    Aus Apr WBC/MI unemployt expectations (last 3.6%)
    Aus Mar employment chg (last 36.7k, f/c 10k, WBC 25k)
    Aus Mar unemployment rate (last 4.0%, f/c 4.1%, WBC 4.0%)
    Jpn Feb machinery orders (last 19.6%, f/c 15.2%, WBC 13%)
    Jpn Mar bank lending %yr (last 0.8%, WBC 0.8%)
    Jpn Feb current account bn (last 2,075, f/c 1,771, WBC 1,800)
    Kor Bank of Korea meeting (last 5.00%, f/c 5.00%, WBC 5.00%)

    Asian timezone tomorrow/next trading day
    Eur Q4 GDP final (last 0.4%)
    UK Mar consumer confidence (last 78)
    UK Feb industrial production (last 0.1%, f/c 0.1%)
    UK BRC shop price index, y/y (last 1.3%)
    US Feb wholesale inventories (last 0.8%, f/c 0.5%, WBC 0.5%)
    US Fedspeak (Fisher on US economy)
 
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