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. )

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Hope, prayer etc....sold yet BH?  hope so....
GOP will allow tax increases? yeah right....believe it when I see it....

I wonder if the US deficit is really the enormous problem people are making out. The US can create it's own currency at essentially zero cost and auction the debt usually quite sucessfully. If not the Federal reserve can simply purchase the debt from Treasury at again essentially no cost (almost zero % interest) and the world is forced to swallow it.
Oil producers recycle USD back into Tresury debt, same for asian countries by and large.
It only becomes a problem if a country borrows in a currency it cannot print and needs to "earn" that foreign exchange for interest payments. Like Germany in the 30's and southern europe today.
The US doesn't have this problem.....debt is cheap and easy for them. Why would they tax as they spend?

Yes I think it is a problem, the thing is to think of money as a proxy for work or energy.  Its really an IOU for the future supply of energy.    So this is really  the classic  "print"  problem which points to zimbabwe...etc.  The USA cannot print oil, in effect its "a problem if a country borrows in a currency it cannot print and needs to "earn" that"
Problem is not so much internally but I think externally.  The USD abroad becomes worth less so takes more USD to buy that barrel of oil which we have to "buy" to in turn buy oil.  So they in effect can export inflation to us even if they dont suffer it much....of course they will suffer as they also have to buy fuel in.
In terms of debt, yes there are a lot of ppl holding US debt in bonds.  They are earning very little or even zero on their $s....hence I think we are in a la la land right now....and hence the comments on "blood baths" when those trillions leave and leave they will.
In which case of course it has to go somewhere.

But yesterday we were told the USA will not need to import oil.

If the USA ever become 'energy independent' by 2020 it will most likely be due to demand destruction rather than increasing oil supply, and if by some magic stroke of luck they do manage to become 'energy independent' I would highly doubt this would last for more than a few years at best due to the brutally high decline rate that the shale wells exhibit.
We shall have to wait and see!

What would happen if the US goes over the Fiscal Cliff?
Nothing. Well, maybe a bit more churning...

I think you are wrong, when they balance their books, and it has to be when, then their economy collapses...they wont be importing anything....
At that point at the latest we have a word wide Great Depression MK II.
The problem of course isnt just the Federal debt but also the State debt....
The problem is they both cant keep expotentially adding debt....it has to be under-written by something...that something is more fossil fuel, which wont happen....so its economy is standing on fresh air.

Don't forget the USA can print money ad infinitum, monetizing their debt. Another possibility is sovereign default, Argentine... er, American style! Don't forget money is but a means of exchange, not wealth! The wealth of the US is largely held as real assets in the homeland.

As InstaPundit would say,
How's that Hopey Changey schtick workin' out for ya?

"What the U.S. needed was some pain, he said, aptly demonstrated by the euro zone’s austerity measures that are attempting, with a mixed measure of success, to curb gaping budget deficits."
la la land....no sign of success with austerity and in fact a dire failure...if you look at ALL the data and dont cherry pick the odd quarter.
I do think he has a point on corporate results, when they already hold all the $s then what little is left out there in the real world just isnt enough to earn $s off. So it would indeed suggest taht at some point IF their reports are not utter fraud then their results have to stagnate and drop.
"Some ugly numbers have come out of Germany lately. We’ll get back to that later. More interesting is the report that German Finance Minister Schaeuble has asked a "wise men" committee to draw up a picture of what's really happening with France economically, a picture that should serve as a counterweight to the portrait French President Hollande paints, and which Germany no longer has confidence in."
Oh and Holland's housing market?
or their spending power?
"The third party numbers that were initially reported spoke of 10-20-30% declines (I saw one 60% quote) in purchasing power for large parts of the Dutch population over the next 4 years due to the new coalition agreement. Not only would this be austerity on steroids,"

The reasons the US can get away with QE are first;ly the economists obcession with history, i.e. the US has always been large and sucessful and therefore will be in the future and secondly they can leverage of the status of the USD as the reserve currency, If any other sovereign state was to debase its own currency at this rate they would be suffering huge inflation but as we are all taking a hit the US get the "new" money without the consequences.
The problem is that the US has neither the monopoly in  mineral resources or industrialiastion that they had post WW2 any more, so I can't see this ending well (or in fact ending at all)

I think you mean the real economy in china is starting to show its been tanking for some years and the huge Govn injection of money has just caused a ponzi bubble thats looking like its popping.

The US cannot balance it's books...ever (nor would that be desirable)...because it is a proxy for gold, the reserve currency, so it needs to export dollars for others to use. 

black gold....

Three thoughtful articles about the several whirlpools awaiting 'Mericans:  the ancients had only Scylla and Charybdis to worry 'bout.
Taxes on the 'rich' - a sober look at the actual tax burdens which vary hugely by location (thanks to the mix of city/state/federal taxes that is typical in the States), and the effect on them of super-taxes/envy taxes from The One.
A PDK special! from the ever-ursine ZH
And y'all thought Obamacare was gonna Save the Poor and Indigent!  Fail!  It will create insurance cartels (think of our own leetle country, with duopolies in food retail, and in building materials, and how much cartel-busting goes on, thanks, ComCom....) which will dictate service levels (think Canterbury Earthquake-style)....

As far as the end of the US, I am not holding my breath. There is a lot policy makers can do yet. No other economy is close to challenging US dominance. THe US military is completely unchallenged and that is the root of power.

They need petrol and deisel like everybody else, and they are one of the world's biggest users.

steven...yeah I take your point. But I must repeat that the US is really the only truly global power. No other nation can challenge for resources when the USD is required for trade.
Yes I know things are changing but it is in nobody's interest to unbalance the reserve status of the USD.
China seems to be returning to it's Communist roots, good luck with that!
Yes oil is a limited resource but predicting it's end is a risky play.

All empires come and go.  As an emppire, in-arguably Britain's (sea) power and Industrial might was based on coal.  When coal production peaked in 1913? I would suggest that they handed that to the USA which still had coal but was ramping up on its own crude.
"No other nation can challenge for resources when the USD is required for trade."  You may have typed this a bit quick, I dont follow it...??
"un-balance" yes indeed, Im not saying however we should, just that its happening and we should be prepared for it happening.
China, I'd say it was moving away from its pseudo-communist roots...merchantile, yes.
Im not sure what you mean by risky play, not doing so places our economy at huge risk.....oh wait thats exactly what we have done.
Peak Oil has been well calculated IMHO....Even from the 1950s the manual derived guess based on use was 2000. Given that calculation couldnt forsee the 1970s oil crisis shock and the change in oil demand growth from that its still quite a feat given it looks to have actuallly been 2005/6. 

The British Empire is acknowledged to have started some time around 1578.
The mining of coal in the way we understand it now didn't take off until the invention of the steam engine that could pump water out of mines shafts in the 1770s.
Therefore coal may have powered a portion of the British Empire but the Empire existed before the coal.

I'm no historian so I cannot argue with your point about Britain and coal but I would add that Britain had been bleeding gold for some time due to continous war in Europe. WW1 really put the boots to Britain financially and when they tried to return to the prewar gold exchange rate vs the pound inflation really took off and did a lot of damage. They had suspended the link to gold during the war.
My comment about USD for trade is that every nation has a requirement to use the USD for reserves but the US has no link to gold (since 1971 due to Vietnam war cost) so the US can create credit/USD at no cost and with no limit. Fiscal cliff is an illusion.
This will allow them to outcompete for resources. Britain didn't have this luxury due to gold being the reserve currency/standard.
Yes I agree energy is the elephant in the room but i'm more sanguine than I used to be on peak oil. Shale has gone from whoa to go in only a few years, and demand really is flat at best. But your points are well taken....
What I meant by China is that I don't see them creating balanced growth long term. I believe they are a firmly Communist regime and the power shift on the way at the moment will be more hard line than many are expecting. Just my guess/opinion.
Appreciate the feedback......

URL pls?

Updated with late US stocks slump.

Deary me, Grant S.....deflation...has been living with deflation, recessions are the new normal....eveybody's got one like a fashionable disease, ...deflation now there's a tricky little mother, still, ...Japan say it can be done..! ...it must be endured.