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90 seconds at 9 am: US stocks up after good Home Depot result and on Fiscal Cliff hope; NZ$ near 82 USc; Australian business confidence down; Westpac CEO paid A$9.6 mln
Here's my summary of the key news overnight in 90 seconds at 9 am, including news US stocks bounced around 0.3% higher in early trade overnight after a strong result from America's biggest hardware chain Home Depot and on signs Republican opposition to tax increases on the rich may be softening.
This opened up some limited hope of a resolution to the looming 'Fiscal Cliff''. Meanwhile, the US government reported running a US$120 billion deficit in October. See more here at Reuters.
Home Depot's result reflected some recovery in the US housing market after 5 years of near 0% interest rates and a massive improvement in affordability because of a 30% plus fall in house prices. See more here at Bloomberg.
However, US stocks slid sharply in the last hour of trade to close down 0.4% as fiscal cliff fears returned.
The New Zealand dollar rose to just under 82 USc on the firmer US markets. It often rises and falls with appetites for risk in US markets.
Elsewhere, the drama around Greece continued to drag on. A meeting of officials could not agree on a deal for a fresh bailout for Greece, although they did agree to give Greece two more years to meet a deficit target. See more here in Bloomberg. Greece was able to meet a deadline for the payment of a bond interest payment by issuing short term bills to its banks, effectively using its credit card to pay the interest on its mortgage.
Closer to home, Australian business confidence fell in October and concerns about both the US fiscal cliff and a falling Chinese stock market saw Australian stocks fall by 1.5% to a seven week low yesterday, the biggest one day fall since July 23. See more here at SMH.com.au.
Meanwhile, SMH reported Westpac Group CEO Gail Kelly was paid a package worth A$9.6 million last financial year, which was down from A$9.8 million the previous year. Westpac's profit rose 5% to A$6.6 billion.
(Updated with video, links to news, updated US stocks closing down. )