Cheap petrol keeps import prices low

Australia: 

Export prices fell 5.4% in the December quarter to be down 10.2% over the year.

Weaker commodity prices sat behind the decline, however, the impact was cushioned by the weaker Australian dollar. 

Import prices fell 0.3% in the quarter and were down 2.4% over the year. Lower prices for petrol kept import prices down.

The St.George-Melbourne Institute Survey of Household Conditions for the December quarter found that financial conditions had improved due to a combination of low interest rates and job creation. 

Seventy per cent of those surveyed required less than 10% of their after tax income to service their debts while 47% of respondents had no debts at all.

Share Markets:

Once again the price of oil and the sharemarket rose together with the energy sector pushing the Dow to a gain of 8%.  The S&P500 rose 0.5%.

In Europe, weaker than expected corporate earnings and a soft economy saw markets slip backwards.  The FTSE100 fell 1.0% while the Dax was down 2.4%.

Interest Rates: 

Interest rate markets were subdued overnight. US long bond yields fell 2 basis points to 1.98% and 2 year yields fell 1 basis point to 0.82%. 

Yields were lower in Europe on the back of weak economic data with 10 year German government bond yields now just 0.40%.

There was little movement in Australian yields yesterday or in the futures market overnight. Three year government bonds currently yield 1.92%.

Foreign Exchange:

The AUD continues to edge higher, pushing briefly into the US 71 cent range last night. Firmer energy prices lifted sentiment towards the AUD.

The US dollar index lost ground overnight as doubts continued about the pace of Fed rate hikes.

Commodities:

The price of oil pushed higher with West Texas intermediate crude now at $US33.5 per barrel, up 26% from its lows of earlier in the month. Gold was marginally weaker, copper prices fell 1.3% and iron ore was also a touch lower.

China: 

China's leading index fell marginally in December. The index fell to 98.12 having moved below 100 in July 2014. The index stood at 98.12 in November and 93.34 in October.

Europe:

German CPI rose 0.5% in the year to January. Inflation remains weak despite efforts lift it closer to 2%. 

Eurozone economic confidence fell from an index level of 106.7 in December to 105.0 in January, suggesting that the economy slowed in January.

Over the same time period, the Eurozone business climate indicator fell from 0.39 to 0.29.

To put these numbers into contest, the index fell to -4.0 during the GFC and rose to a high of 1.6 post-GFC. An outcome over zero indicates expansion with 0.29 indicating anaemic growth.

Japan:

Retail sales in Japan fell 1.1% in the year to December despite the best attempts by the authorities to stimulate the Japanese economy.

United Kingdom:

GDP in the UK grew 1.9% in the year to the December quarter. This was softer than the 2.1% annual pace seen in the September quarter. Growth in the UK remains modest but positive.

United States:

US durable goods orders fell 5.1% in December against an expectation of a smaller 0.7% decline. This was a very weak result, with four of the six categories falling.

The advance 4Q GDP results due tomorrow are expected to be weak - as hinted at in the FOMC statement yesterday - and possibly even negative.

On the positive side of the ledger, initial jobless claims declined in the week ending 23rd January, pending home sales picked up 0.1%  but the Kansas City Fed indicator of manufacturing activity remained at negative 9 suggesting weakness in that region of the US.


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