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FX Update

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Australia

The Australian Dollar has been volatile in the past 24 hours after starting the week at 0.7080. The FOMC minutes bought nothing new to markets Thursday morning as they highlighted ongoing global uncertainty and the possible flow on effects from a slowdown in Europe and China. Equities all closed higher with the Aussie Dollar holding recent strength. Wage growth in Australia went backwards in the December quarter according to statistics wage growth grew by 0.5% coming in below the expected 0.6% pace expected. Unemployment data came in better than expected Thursday when employment was higher for January with employment jumping by 39,000 with 65,400 additional fulltime people and a downturn of 26,300 part time people. The wage data pushed the Aussie higher across the board on the news, against the greenback to 0.7205. Within minutes however, the AUD was back under pressure after Westpac suggested the RBA will cut interest rate twice this year. Overnight, reports of China blocking Australian imports of coal pressured the AUD further.        

New Zealand

Prices in the Global Dairy Auction held overnight Wednesday showed another healthy rise of 0.9% increase, this is the sixth consecutive price increase. A total of 25325 Metric Tones of product was sold with milk powder and cheddar making the most gains of around 2.8% and 2.95% respectively.  President Trump earlier comments to media were positive at the end of last week’s Beijing trade talks. He said the meetings went “extremely well” with further talks expected to continue today and tomorrow in Washington. The meeting in part will cover the pledge by China to purchase a significant amount of goods and services from the US. The US have highlighted the need for structural changes to be made in China. China more than ever looks to be engaged to reach a deal with the US. Next week’s main event on the docket will be Retail Sales ending January quarter. Read more

Progress made at Beijing trade talks – Further talks in Washington this week.

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Market Overview:

US Presidents Day holiday Monday made for quiet markets with a slow start to the week. The US Dollar came under pressure towards the end of the week which has carried over into this week’s trading pushing most currencies against the greenback north. President Trump declared a national emergency late last week in an effort to obtain his required 5.7 Billion to build his wall along the Mexico Border. He has already received approval by the democrats for 1.376 Billion but as per his campaign promise he is insisting the wall be built regarding a matter on national security. Going against congress approval could get the president in hot water legally. Thousands of people has rallied in protest against the national emergency on the Presidents holiday with protesters carrying banners saying “Trump is the Emergency”. Protesters and civil rights organisations have asked congress to step in and take action against the move by Trump. With the weaker US retail sales figures printing Friday the US Dollar index has come off to 96.78  but still remains fairly robust with equities pushing higher the three main US indices up over 2% from last Thursday. US officials met with Chinese negotiators in Beijing to hold further talks regarding the ongoing trade tariff disputes. Both parties have hailed the meeting as progress with further talks to continue this week in Washington. As the 2 March deadline looms where tariffs will be pushed from 10% to 25% we view the situation from the top of the fence – from here anything is possible. A swag of data is to publish on the economic docket this week starting with RBA minutes today and ending with FED members speeches at the end of the week. All eyes will also be on UK and Aussie employment figures. The New Zealand Dollar has a quiet week and will be driven by offshore developments. Read more

FX Update

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Australia
The Australian Dollar has had a mixed week against the major currencies holding ground
against the US Dollar but posting losses against the Kiwi. The currency rode on the coat
tales of the mighty Kiwi Dollar after the RBNZ left rates unchanged Wednesday pushing up
broadly. It’s a very quiet week on the economic docket with only RBA  governor speaking
again Friday. Some support for the Aussie Dollar in 2019 could come in the form of higher
Iron Ore values with prices expected to rise over the coming months based on increased
demand in China. With the RBA coming out last week on three separate occasions with a
pessimistic Australian economy for 2019 we can’t sweep away speak of the RBA cutting
rates in the second half of this year. The RBA has left rates on hold since August 2016 but
we are predicting a drop to 1.25% in the second or third quarter with current dire signs we
have seen.

New Zealand
The New Zealand Dollar spiked higher Wednesday after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
left the benchmark rate unchanged at 1.75% The general view of markets was for a dovish
tone but this never eventuated. Certainly not a hawkish statement but rather less dovish than
expected. As markets had priced in a bearish kiwi based on other central banks recently
downgrading their 2019 forecasts the kiwi got well long on the news. Adrian Orr said a
balanced outlook remains while warning that a sharp global downturn could eventually
weigh the NZ economy down. The next cut could be up or down with the probability of a rate
cut now 50/50 to the end of this 2020. President Trump stated the ongoing trade talks in
Beijing this week are making good progress ahead on the March 1 deadline where tariffs
will go from 10.0% to 25.0%. With this being said equity markets have posted a positive day
helping to boost the kiwi. Read more

Update

RBNZ Holds The Key

Market Overview:

Major US indices have closed the week in negative territory after coming in lower Friday for the third straight day. The Nasdaq, DOW and S&P have posted the first loss in seven weeks based on a risk averse tone which has developed. With reports surfacing that the US/China trade negotiations may be delayed a while past the 2nd of March deadline for tariffs. Tariffs will go from the current 10% to 25% on this date with trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer saying China best hurry to speed up discussions. The US Dollar has had its best week in over six months with the US Index at 96.66 posting gains of over 1% on its rivals with over 2.2% on the Australian Dollar. The last time the big dollar made gains of this size was in August last year. The safe haven US Dollar really coming into play with investors preferring to stay in USD based on weakening global economy. Crude oil has a choppy week trading between 55.25 and 51.75 losing around 5% on global concerns. Recently Oil has had some support with OPEC supply cuts and sanctions over Venezuela. The New Zealand Dollar has been the poorest performing currency over the past week next to the Aussie falling against the major’s down 2.19% against the greenback from 0.6900 to close around 0.6742. Monday has seen the kiwi pick up early week support but with the RBNZ Cash Rate announcement due to release at the new time of Wednesday 2.00pm trading until then could be subdued. With recent Reserve Bank of Australia and Bank of England downwardly revised 2019 growth forecasts we are expecting more of the same from Adrian Orr in his statement to gauge direction and tone for 2019 Read more

FX Update

Australia

Retail Sales figures published Tuesday came in light as we expected at -0.4% instead of the 0.0% markets were expecting putting the Aussie under pressure. The RBA left rates unchanged at 1.50% as it has done since mid-2016 saying downside risks remain over the following two years as they suggested a possible downgrade to the GDP forecast. Markets reacted with relief with the AUD recovering well into Tuesday evening sessions. Wednesday saw the Australian Dollar hit hard after news out in a speech by RBA governor Lowe adopted a more neutral bias, suggesting the economy could be weaker than forecasts suggest, the AUD against the big Dollar dropping from 0.7240 to 0.7100 Thursday. Lowe went on to say the RBA could cut rates if jobs growth deteriorates and the unemployment starts to climb.   

New Zealand

Waitangi Day Wednesday made for quiet local trading in the New Zealand Dollar, in fact except decent movement in the Aussie Dollar one could have argued Waitangi Day affected the whole market. US stocks were benign and Crude Oil also had no real change. The Kiwi however started to show signs late during the overnight sessions Wednesday what it was starting to feel the effects of some selling perhaps a by-product of the Aussie falling so hard, or perhaps a sign of things to come. Thursday’s employment figures for the fourth quarter showed the employment rate jumped from 4.1% to 4.3% reflecting a spike of 10,000 were added to the cue which was made up of 8,000 unemployed men and 2,000 women. This is the first time since 2010 that the figure was lower for women than men. Immediately after the news the kiwi was sold off across the board falling to 0.6770 against the greenback. The global dairy auction took place Wednesday night and published good numbers with prices up 6.7% on good quantity. These results only offered slight momentary relief for the kiwi.    Read more

Non Farm Payroll Prints A Whopping 304,000

Market Overview:

US economic data Friday by the bureau of statistics showed Jobs numbers print well up on expectations. The US economy added a whopping 304,000 jobs for January after figures were only expected to be around 165,000. The employment rate is back up to 4.0% from 3.9%. The report follows a 35-day Federal shutdown, the longest in history. The figures also highlights the 100th straight month of job growth. The US equity markets traded largely benign with the S&P and the Nasdaq trading down on the day.  January for equity markets turned out positive with gains of over 7.8% in the S&P- its best January month since 1987, 7.1% in the DOW and 9.7% in the Nasdaq.  With the terrible earnings reports last week from Caterpillar, ExxonMobil lifted the market Friday with gains of more than 3%. After a tough end to the year for Crude Oil it has bounced back to post gains in January of 16.3% which is a massive turnaround after losing around 9.0% in December. The Big Dollar has closed the week higher than all currencies except the Canadian Dollar. Talks by President Trump and the Democrats are not expected to produce a result for Trump containing the 5.7Billion he wants to build his wall, he said talks which took place over the weekend were a waste of time. February 15th is the day all hell could break loose in markets with Trump gearing to declare a national emergency over what he thinks is a crisis at the southern border. Temporary federal funding is expected to run dry around this date and another shutdown foreseeable. Trump has said without a border wall the US is subject to vast lawlessness including human trafficking with drugs and gangs pouring in. This week’s local driver will be Thursday’s NZ employment figures which are expected to be negative with the unemployment rate expected to increase to 4.1%. The Bank of England will announce their official cash rate on Thursday with expectations forecast to be 0-9 vote for rates to be hikes past the current 0.75%. Prospects of a no Brexit deal continue to gather pace with only around 60 days left until the UK must bail from the EU. There is still a massive amount of legislation to be agreed on before the deadline. Thousands of UK businesses are preparing plans for a no Brexit deal with many hinting of shifting to other countries. The RBA are not expected to hike their cash rate this Tuesday from 1.50%, with recent positive CPI numbers we may see a more of a hawkish view for 2019?  Chinese New Year over this week will ensure trading volumes are reduced, also NZ Labour day holiday Wednesday. Read more

Shutdown Turnaround

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Market Overview:

A game of two halves…?…the US government shutdown has ended after a record 35 days, but we may see a redux come the 15th February!
President Trump succumbed to pressure over the weekend, ending the shutdown with no concession for “Wall” funding but instead provides time for Congressional negotiations over the next 3 weeks with a decision made before the current funding extension expires again on the 15th February, this result has seen a rise in risk markets. However, President Trump has said that if he can’t get a fair deal, he will either use his emergency powers or government will shut down again, look for more fireworks on this front over the next few weeks.
After a solid start to the year, investors are looking for more direction from a corporate earnings season that has so far been indecisive. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He has arrived in the US for what the White House is describing as “very, very important” trade talks this week. Amidst the backdrop of U.S.-China stress and geopolitical tensions in Venezuela, traders/investors also need to navigate the Federal Reserve rate decision, developments in the U.K.’s Brexit process and a potential slew of American economic data that was delayed by the government shutdown.
Brexit continues to dominate the Eurozone with the UK Parliament overnight voting not to delay the Brexit date of 29th March thus giving PM May an opportunity to send a unified message to Brussels to rip open the Brexit agreement or watch chaos unfold as the U.K. splits away from the bloc without a deal. The GBP has come under pressure as the chances of a no-deal Brexit are now perceived to have risen.
Also, on the agenda this week are further US/China trade talks, now complicated by the new indictments by the US Justice Dept against Chinese technology giant Huawei, along with the FOMC meeting and statement on Wednesday night.

Read more

Negative News Still Grips Markets

Market Overview:

Hopes for a solution to the US government shutdown and progress in the US-China trade negotiations helped US equities power to the highest levels since mid-December at the close of the week on Friday.
Generally, Financial Markets ended last week on a more upbeat note as reports suggested that the US was looking to lift some tariffs on Chinese goods to create some goodwill with China in order for bigger concessions in the trade talks. It was also reported that China was looking to cut-back its trade surplus with the US by increasing US imports by around US$1 trillion. However come Monday the news was more sobering, that the two sides are making little progress on the key issue of intellectual property protection.
Trading was subdued to start the week owing to the US Martin Luther King holiday on Monday.
Other data yesterday confirmed China’s economy expanded at the slowest pace since the global financial crisis, in line with many expectations, though December figures for industrial production and retail sales were buoyant. Reinforcing the more downbeat market mood was news that the IMF was cutting its global growth forecast to the weakest in three years — in part because of softening demand in Europe.
The World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos, Switzerland tonight so expect some headlines from this event over the next few days, however with no US attendance (President Trump and his senior advisors are staying away due to the shutdown), and both French and UK leaders also absent due to problems at home,  we expect most of the headlines will lack the usual punch.
Brexit developments were high on the agenda overnight. Following the profound defeat in last week’s “meaningful vote”, UK Prime Minister Theresa May delivered to the House of Commons her amended vision for a way forward for Brexit which looked pretty similar to the old vision…. little of substance again could be gleaned from the UK House of Commons,with the spectacle displaying the same partisanship, gridlock and frustration exhibited last week.
There are rate decisions for the Bank of Japan (Wednesday), and the European Central Bank (Thursday). Read more

International Trade

FX Update

Australia

Westpac Consumer Sentiment released at -4.7% evaporating any positive mood carried through 2018. Confidence in the Australian economy has deteriorated recently based on a number of key issues such as falling house prices, disappointing economic growth and uncertainty around the global trade war. This is particularly relevant and has the ability to derail a number of key factors around Australian exports given the weighting over how China and the US continue to negotiate tariff issues. Chinese economic data is expected to get worse in 2019 as the full impact is seen. Chinese authorities have admitted to underestimating the full impact of how the trade war will have on economic stimulus and how it will affect growth. Total exports fell 221 Billion for December down 4.4% from December 2017 numbers. This could have the effect of underpinning the Australian mineral exports to China. No local data to print this week until next week’s employment figures Thursday.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Dollar lost its positive form midweek after fears of OCR cuts and the domestic outlook for 2019 devalued the kiwi, making it the worse performer. REINZ data showed what economists and analysts feared with sales of property taking a hit. Sales for December across the country are down 12.9% with Auckland at -24% after 429 fewer houses sold. Excluding Auckland the number decreased by 8.2%with 358 fewer houses selling compared to 2017 figures. REINZ reported that while December is usually a quiet month these figures are the lowest for December in 7 years. As we expected the Global Dairy Auction reported its fourth straight positive index figure with an increase in price of 4.2% after the increase of 2.8% on the 2nd of January. This should impact positively on the future milk solid price and highlights a good start to 2019. Offshore drivers such as Brexit and the US shutdown could impact the kiwi leading into the close with no further local data to print.   Read more

Theresa May’s Brexit gets the vote tonight

Market Overview:

Markets entered the week with a more “risk-off” tone, as weaker Chinese trade data added to concerns over slowing global growth and the US partial government shutdown entered its fourth week, both weighing on sentiment. Equity markets were lower across the board in both Europe and the US with the S&P 500 down for a second session in below average volume, led by technology companies after China’s slumping export figures fuelled worries about the growing impact of the U.S.-China trade war on worldwide growth. In Europe, tech stocks dragged the Stoxx Europe 600 Index lower, reversing four days of gains. Currency markets saw the US dollar lower reflecting the equity weakness but the EUR remained steady after data showed that industrial production slowed over the November period. A better gauge for EUR direction will come later tonight as the EU will release November Trade Balance, while ECB’s head Draghi will testify before the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, on the central bank Annual Report. The UK Pound edged higher overnight, as the Brexit shambles reaches a head tonight as the exit deal drafted by UK PM May goes to a vote in the UK Parliament. Market perception is that May’s plan is unlikely to get approved, but what’s keeping the GBP elevated is speculation that the rejection of the plan would end in a no-Brexit or maybe in a delay of the Article 50 exit, however the government has said multiple times that it will leave on March 29 with or without a deal. Hang on tight it, could be wild ride for the GBP over the next  24 hrs..! Little in the way of major releases for the Australian & New Zealand market this week, leaving  both the AUD & NZD continue to be buffeted by offshore winds. Read more