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90 seconds at 9 am: Dow and NZ$ up after firm US profits and housing starts; Fed's Bernanke says US 'fiscal cliff' unsustainable; Syria civil war spiralling out of control
Here's my summary of the key news overnight in 90 seconds at 9 am, including news the Dow closed up 0.8% after better than expected profit results from the likes of Intel and Honeywell and the strongest housing starts growth in four years.
The increased appetites for riskier assets and a rise in commodity prices helped boost the New Zealand dollar to 79.9 USc this morning. Corn and other soft commodity prices, which often move in tandem with meat and dairy prices, are surging because of devastating drought in America.
US housing starts rose 6.9% last month and the 'Beige book' survey of US economic activity showed 'modest to moderate' economic growth in the world's largest economy in June and July. See more here from Bloomberg.
However, US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress the US fiscal situation was unsustainable. US economic activity is set slump at the end of the year unless political leaders can avoid a pre-set 'fiscal cliff' where tax cuts expire and automatic spending cuts kick in to the tune of 4% of GDP. See more here at Bloomberg.
Despite these fears, the 10 year US Treasury yield fell another 2 basis points to 1.48% as investors continue to seek safe havens.
Shorter term Northern European government bond yields have fallen below 0% in recent weeks on fears the euro-zone will break up and they will make money through currency revaluations in those Northern European economies. Germany, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria have seen their 2 year bonds go to negative yields in recent weeks. That means investors are effectively paying the governments there to look after their money. See more here at FT.com.
Meanwhile, the situation in the Middle East is deteriorating, helping to drive up oil prices by around 1% overnight.
A suicide bomber killed 3 very senior Syrian officials overnight and there is very heavy fighting in the capital Damascus. See more here at Reuters.
Also, Israel is blaming Iran for the bombing of a bus in Bulgaria that killed six Israeli tourists. Israel threatened a strong response. See more here at Reuters
(Updated with Syrian, Israeli news)