Strong US data; oil down, gold up; Dow hits record; Latvia joins eurozone; Aussie factories in doldrums; NZ$1 = US$0.820 TWI = 77.5

Here's my summary of the key news overnight to keep you up-to-date over these holidays.

The US economy ended the year of  improving data. Manufacturing growth continues with US PMI's still well in 'expansion' territory; initial unemployment claims declined again, and hiring seems to be picking up.

American construction spending climbed to its highest level since March 2009.

The US crude oil price is down, partly because of the rising supply - and the decades-old law that prohibits exporting domestic production. Now that output is up so strongly, that law is being challenged.

On the other hand, gold is making something of a recovery and is now trading at US$1,226/oz in late New York trade.

The Dow reached all-time high of 15,569 in the first day of trading in 2014, partly on the good economic news and partly over the completion of the Chrysler-Fiat deal. In afternoon trading it is falling back however.

UST benchmark 10yr bond yields are unchanged at 2.99% today, although American mortgage rates are rising - their 30yr fixed rates are at 4.53%.

Worldwide, manufacturing output rose at its fastest pace in December since February 2011, according to the combination PMI report from Markit Economics. Of the major economies, it is rising fastest in Japan, followed by the US, the Eurozone, and the laggard in this group is China. We won't get the New Zealand data for a while yet. But the Aussie data is out and it is not very impressive, showing contraction in December.

In Europe, Latvia has become the 28th country to adopt the euro - partly as a defense against its Russian neighbour.

The NZ dollar starts today at 82.0 USc, 91.9 AUc, and the TWI is at 77.5

The easiest place to stay up with today's event risk is by following our Economic Calendar here »

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