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90 seconds at 9 am: US job market weakness contrasts with housing market improvement; Eurozone confidence down; Realestate.co.nz goes Chinese
Here's our summary of the key news overnight in 90 seconds at 9 am. We kick off today with mixed signals from the world’s biggest economy with worse than expected jobless figures and a separate report offering some optimism on the housing market, with the latter boosting stock markets.
Firstly, the US Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits -the number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits - dropped by 1,000 to 388,000 last week, compared with a Reuters poll of economists that forecast new claims to fall to 375,000. This was seen by some economists as more evidence the labour market is losing traction after the US Labor Department's recent report on March non-farm payrolls showed an increase of 120,000 ending three straight months of 200,000 plus growth.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors said contracts to purchase previously owned US homes rose 4.1% to a near two-year high in March. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, reached 101.4 in March, its highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3. The data reflects contracts but not closings.
Across the Atlantic Ocean a report from the European Commission suggested economic confidence in the struggling Eurozone fell more than expected in April. An index of executive and consumer sentiment fell to 92.8 from a revised 94.5 in March, compared with economists' forecasts for a drop to 94.2.
Concern over Spain’s debts and that country’s austerity plans helped reduce borrowing costs for Germany, which is perceived as the strongest Eurozone economy. Germany’s cost to borrow for two years dropped to as low as 0.089%. And 10-year bunds fell 6 basis points to 1.68% with Germany’s inflation rate slowing to a 14-month low.
Back in New Zealand Realestate.co.nz has launched a Chinese language version of its website to help cater for rising Chinese interest in New Zealand property. The site has been developed through a partnership with New Zealand-Chinese company HouGarden.com. It combines the full listings from Realestate.co.nz, the official website of the New Zealand real estate industry, translated into Chinese plus translated news stories covering the New Zealand economy and property news.