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90 seconds at 9 am: No OCR change expected tomorrow; NZ trade surplus surprise; stocks up; US confidence takes a hit; France 'bankrupt'; NZ$1 = US$0.837 TWI - 75.3
Here's my summary of the key news overnight in 90 seconds at 9 am, including news that the NZIER shadow board - a group of nine that gives its views just ahead of the RBNZ OCR reviews - thinks the OCR should stay unchanged tomorrow they said in an emailed release. It's bias is to cut rather than raise, but at tomorrow's announcement it recommends holding at 2.5%. The 'cut' bias fell since the previous report from the panel.
The three bankers in the group have shifted slightly towards raising, the three industry members have shifted slightly towards cutting, and the three academics have shifted slightly towards raising. But these movements are slight; overwhelmingly they all favour no change.
Staying in New Zealand, yesterday's trade data surprised on the upside. New Zealand had a much larger trade surplus than expected for the month of December. We had a $486 million surplus when most experts were thinking it was going to be a $100 million deficit. More than that, the November deficit was revised down by $110 million. The main reason for the improvement was a fall in imports, mainly big-ticket ones and oil. Exports were a little higher than expected. These results didn't have a huge impact on the exchange rate, although it did firm a little.
In the US, equities have risen to five year highs, but consumer confidence fell sharply and unexpectedly. It may have been because of the impact of tax rises, especially payroll taxes. Meanwhile, house prices rose the most in six years, up 5.5% from a year ago.
In France, a minister there claimed the country was 'bankrupt' - a claim that caused a storm and a rapid backdown.
In China, data out overnight showed Chinese incomes rose faster in the countryside than in cities for a third straight year in 2012 as migrant workers boosted their pay and the government strengthened the social safety net.
In Japan, another 'surprise' from the incoming government - they are planning to cut government spending, the first such move there in seven years. Japan has a huge public debt level and is in a deflationary spiral. This latest move won't do much, but it is a signal that authorities there are more serious than previously in addressing their issues.
The New Zealand dollar starts today higher at 83.7 USc, 80.0 AUc, with the TWI down to 75.3.