Here's our summary of key events over night that affect New Zealand, with news of tax increases in Singapore.
With both Chinese and US markets closed for holidays, the focus has turned elsewhere.
Firstly, the ECB has frozen all payments by a Latvian bank, following accusations by the Americans that ABLV laundered billions in illicit funds, including for companies connected to North Korea’s banned ballistic-missile program. As we reported yesterday, the ECB's Latvian member has been detained in the widening investigation. He is just the latest in a growing list of ECB bosses accused of malfeasance.
Also widening are the problems at the Mumbai branch of the state-owned Punjab National Bank where a fraud of over US$1.5 bln appears to have occurred. Two of India's wealthiest people, including a celebrity jeweler, are said to be behind the massive fraud. Both have left India and disappeared.
In Japan, they have started the year with a trade deficit as imports of crude oil overwhelmed the revenue from export shipments. The negative figure came after a long period of surpluses. But those oil imports overshadowed a very strong rise in exports, up +12% year-on-year and indicating an expansion of their economic recovery.
Singapore has announced that it will raise its GST rate from 7% to 9%, but it put off the change until after their next election. This tax increase comes despite strong national account surpluses and is being done to deal with an ageing population. They have also raised their stamp duty on S$1 mln housing transfers.
Australia, the United States, India and Japan have been discussing a joint regional infrastructure scheme designed to be a rival to China's multibillion-dollar "Belt and Road" initiative, the AFR is reporting. It is an initiative that is likely to put New Zealand in a delicate position with China, Australia and the US.
And more specifically in Australia, major bank NAB is preparing to eliminate the first 1,000 jobs under a AU$1 bln cost-cutting drive announced last year to make it a "simpler, faster bank" as it prepares for tougher competition. Chief executive Andrew Thorburn in November announced up to 6,000 existing jobs would be lost over the next three years out of its current 35,000, as part of a plan to slash people expenses while investing in new technology.
In New York, the UST market hasn't traded and the 10 yr yield remains at 2.87%.
The gold price is lower by -US$1 this morning at US$1,346.
Oil prices are a noticeably firmer today, up more than +US$1, with the US benchmark now just under US$62.50/bbl and the Brent benchmark over US$65.50/bbl.
The Kiwi dollar is little changed this morning at 73.7 USc. On the cross rates we are stable too at 93.2 AUc and 59.4 euro cents. That leaves the TWI-5 marginally lower at 74.5.
Bitcoin is now just on US$10,980, after having powered on up over US$11,000 about 4 hours ago.
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