St George Economics economy and finance update
Despite mixed economic news out of the US and Europe (see below), equities rose in both sets of markets.
A pick-up in US factory orders combined with solid expectations for US job growth figures on Friday set the tone.
The FTSE rose 1.2% while the Dax gained 1.9%.
The US, the Dow rose 0.6%.
In line with the movements away from safe haven assets, treasury prices in the US and Germany fell (yields rose).
Yields remain above the lows seen during 2012. In line with the improvement in sentiment, Greek 10 year bond yields were down 21bp, Spanish equivalent yields were down 12bp and Italian 10 year yields fell 14bp.
Portuguese debt, however, continued to be sold.
The AUD traded marginally weaker against the USD overnight but opens higher today than yesterday.
Similar movement was seen against the yen, euro and the pound with the AUD gaining ground.
Gold prices fell as funds moved towards equities.
The price of copper was also down as traders focused on the weak European data.
West Texas crude oil was little changed overnight.
The RBA left its official cash rate unchanged at 3.00% yesterday.
It also appeared to leave in place its easing bias noting that growth is likely to be a little below trend in the year ahead.
According to RP Data Rismark, house prices across Australian capital cities rose 1.4% in March to be up 2.5% over the year.
Unit prices rose 0.7% in the month and 2.0% over 12 months.
Rental yields for houses were reported at 4.1% and at 4.9% for units.
In other news, the AiG performance of manufacturing index fell from 45.6 in February to 44.4 in March indicating that the manufacturing sector continues to struggle.
Eurozone unemployment reached a new all-time high of 12% in revised January data and held there in February.
A steady German jobless rate at 5.4% contrasted with higher French (10.8%) and Spanish (26.3%) unemployment rates although Italy slipped a touch to 11.6%.
Also the factory PMI was revised from 46.6 to 46.8 in March, down from 47.9 in February.
It has been running at sub 50 contractionary levels since August 2011, more or less corresponding to the period of shallow, drawn out recession that officially began in the fourth quarter of that year.
German CPI edged down from an annual rate of 1.5% to 1.4% in the preliminary March report, its lowest since 2010.
Cyprus now has until 2018 to implement its budget deficit reduction program, extended from 2017, after talks between the finance minister (who subsequently resigned) and the troika of ECB/EU/IMF officials finalising the detail of the revised bailout plan.
UK factory PMI rose from 47.9 to 48.3 in March, remaining in the contractionary sub 50 zone after two 50+ readings at the turn of the year in December-January.
Other data included a fall in new mortgages approved from 54.2k in January to 51.7k in February, its lowest since Sep last year.
US factory goods orders rose 3% in February with a 0.8% rise in non-durables combining with the 5.6% jump in durables orders.
US ISM-NY fell from 58.8 to 51.2 in March, replicating the declines in this index seen in the first half of 2012 and 2011 after an early year surge, that we suspect is more to do with seasonal adjustment issues than with underlying swings in economic activity.
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