Worldwide coronavirus cases surpass 19.2 million with over 716,000 official deaths.
Analysts overwhelmingly ignored Wednesday’s New Zealand Unemployment rate when it published at 4.0%, down from the 5.5% markets were predicting. Putting it down to a large margin of error based on inadequate statistical data over the second quarter. I suppose due to the lockdown in April and some of May those unemployed couldn’t look for work thus weren’t included in the figures. April was the worst month when 35,000 filed for unemployment benefits followed by May’s turnaround increase of 14,400 jobs and further increases in June, almost putting the quarter back to pre- covid levels. The problem is this, the wage subsidy was in place for nearly all of the March, April and May (second quarter) of which the NZ government paid out a total of 13 Billion in wages to individuals and businesses.
Worldwide coronavirus cases surpass 17.36 million with over 695,000 official deaths.
New Zealand unemployment numbers print this week on Wednesday and are expected to show that the rate will jump from 4.2% to around 5.0% for the second quarter. If we stop and think about this for a second, this number is a monumental achievement for the NZ economy in light of recent and ongoing coronavirus. The new Statistics NZ labour force indicator confirms these extraordinary numbers with jobless claims hitting a high in April of 35,000 and the June number which released last week reflecting that filled jobs had recovered almost all of the prior decline. The result is a resoundingly positive result for the country as businesses and individuals have mostly returned to work. The main reason for the labour force’s resilience has been the government’s wage subsidy program with 1.7M employees covered by the scheme. The wage subsidy extension ends on the 1st of September 2020 which will no doubt influence 3rd quarter jobs figures and unemployment after the program has finished.
Worldwide coronavirus cases surpass 17.45million with over 675,000 official deaths.
There was no change Thursday morning from the US Federal Reserve as they kept their main rate at 0.25%. With Covid-19 still at large and far from beaten the outlook for the US economy is not looking good. The general view from the central bank was that of a dovish stance with chances of a strategy shift in September’s policy meeting high. With the Fed extending emergency lending and focus on further fiscal stimulus we were not going to see any significant changes. Fed chairman Powell seems confident the economy is pulling out of recent coronavirus affected times and is on track to expect full employment post 2022. Only two fed members expect the refinancing rate to increase before 2022. The US Dollar moved lower post decision against the major currencies earning it the weakest currency over the course of the week and well below the gain line for July.
Worldwide coronavirus cases surpass 16.4M with over 651,000 deaths officially reported.
The New Zealand Dollar and the Australian Dollar held top positions midweek but lost ground to the Euro and Pound towards the weekly close as “risk markets” took on water. The US Dollar traded flat at the bottom of the pile in the major group of currencies and never really kicked on. US politicians are still trying to come to an agreement as to the next support package to support the local economy as coronavirus cases continue to rise. Tensions between China and the US are still tender with the US ordering the Chinese consulate in Texas to be closed. China has retaliated by ordering the US to close its Chengdu consulate. This strained risk and spooked markets as equities dropped in Asia and the US. US Jobless claims rose for the first time since March confirming the jobs situation in the US is starting to deteriorate again. 1.4M people filed for unemployment in the week ending 18 July vs 1.3M predicted representing an astonishing number of newly laid off workers. This marks the total number of people who have filed for unemployment since March 21 at 53 million in the US.
Worldwide coronavirus cases surpass 14.9M with over 616,400 deaths officially reported.
The New Zealand Dollar (NZD) and the Australian Dollar (AUD) both performed strongly this week gaining against most other currencies. Positive risk sentiment was definitely a factor with optimistic headlines doing the rounds regarding potential Covid vaccines by the end of the year. We also had an agreement on a EUR750 Billion recovery fund in the EU, while in the United States Democrats and Republicans are in the process of negotiating another stimulus package. Global equities continue their strong run, thanks largely to the unprecedented levels of money creation by central banks, and that excess liquidity combined with positive risk sentiment really has been the driving force in markets for much of this week. Both gold and silver are also benefiting in this environment and it is hard to see their bullish trends turning around any time soon. There are risks out there however and increasing geopolitical tensions should not be ignored. Tensions between the US and China deteriorated further this week with the US ordering the Chinese consulate in Texas to be closed. We wait to see what sort of retaliatory action China will take. In the past 12 hours we have seen US unemployment claims for the past week come in above expectation at 1.4m. This provided a bit of a reality check for markets and triggered a mild “risk off” correction.
Worldwide coronavirus cases surpasses 14.8M with over 612,000 deaths officially reported.
The New Zealand Dollar and the Australian Dollar closed out the week keeping their top spots against the major currencies so far for the month for July.
Victoria coronavirus stole the attention last week when the state clocked 428 new cases on Friday and a further 363 Sunday. The virus has got so bad in the community Premier Daniel Andrews announced masks will be compulsory in Melbourne in a few days’ time. The state has recorded 12 consecutive days of triple digit increases. Consumer confidence in Australia has taken a hit over the past few days with Victoria deteriorating 10% while the rest of Australia is down 4.5%. To make matters worse Australian Unemployment reached 7.4% in June, a 22 year high which will keep the local mood low. Federal government is expected to increase their fiscal stimulus this week which could boost sentiment. This is the first economic statement since the pandemic hit the country in March. The budget will include 90B in the already announced stimulus, and an extra 50B of new measures. The Aussie remains resilient finishing the week just below 0.70c but further coronavirus outbreaks in Victoria should cast doubts over any V shaped recovery momentum. Vaccine hopes and recently buoyant commodity prices, in particular iron ore prices, together with China’s economic rebound have kept the Aussie moving higher. While “risk” mood remains stable, the Australian Dollar should continue to travel north for the moment.
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Worldwide coronavirus cases surpass 13.2M with over 574,000 deaths officially reported.
• Last week’s performance of the New Zealand Dollar saw a net gain against the majors, the Pound was the standout though climbing from Tuesday with a number of economic tax incentive announcements
• President Trump has spoken out about prospects on a phase two trade deal. He says the relationship with China has been “severely damaged”. White House advisor Navarro expects Trump to take heavy action against Chinese owned TikTok and WeChat for engaging in “information warfare”.
• The US military base in Okinawa has been locked down after 61 new coronavirus cases were reported, there are around 25,000 personal on the base