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90 seconds at 9 am: Surprise fall in US GDP; surprise rise in EU confidence; surprise election announcement in Australia; NZ$1 = US$0.831 TWI - 74.7
Here's my summary of the key news overnight in 90 seconds at 9 am, including news that there was a surprise fall in US GDP at the end of 2012. Their economy unexpectedly came to a standstill in the fourth quarter as the biggest plunge in defense spending in 40 years swamped gains for consumers and businesses. There were weaker exports and very low growth in inventories too.
Economists said the Q4 decline was 'temporary' and does not undermine the recovery track. The US makes three GDP announcements; this is the 'advance' one which gets progessively revised as more data comes to hand.
However, there may be an even bigger bump in the road in Q1 2013. Automatic budget cuts now seem more likely as political stances harden.
In Europe, another surprise; economic confidence rose more than economists forecast in January, adding to signs that the 17-nation currency bloc may be emerging from its recession. There is still more negative sentiment than positive, but the rise was welcomed.
The US Federal Reserve has left its arrangements unchanged. Since it began a third round of asset purchases in September aimed at lowering interest rates and spurring growth, bond yields have climbed. The trend may signal the program is working.
In Australia, Prime Minister Gillard has surprised observers by naming an election date far in advance - September 14 - counting on gains from a very long election campaign. The latest poll shows the Liberal Party has a small lead over Labor.
The OCR announcement by the Reserve Bank is at 9am and we will have full coverage from Wellington by Bernard Hickey. It's not that anyone expects a rate change today, but the tone of the announcement will give some important clues to markets.
The New Zealand dollar starts today quite a bit lower at 83.1 USc, 79.8 AUc, with the TWI down to 74.7.