Bankruptcy potential for US carmakers hurts equities. The US
administration got tough, removing the GM CEO, and threatened bankruptcy for
both, before the European session. The S&P500 gapped down at the open, and
is currently -3.9%. Eurostoxx closed 5.3% lower, further battered by news of
the first Spanish bank bailout, as well as a Scottish lender's failure. S&P
downgraded two sovereigns overnight: Ireland
to AA-, their CDS 35bp higher on the day, and Hungary
to BBB-. Safe-haven appeal sent the USD currency and US treasuries higher, the
10 year note rallying 5bp. Commodities were sharply down on the negative
sentiment, oil -7.5%, and copper -4%.
NZD appeared unaffected by global factors, largely ranging between
0.56 and 0.5650. Yesterday's building approvals release, while slightly
stronger than expected, was ignored by the market.
AUD fell on the US
auto news during early Europe, from 0.6830 to 0.6770,
but then held a range between there and 0.6820 for the remainder of the
session. AUD/NZD hovered along the bottom of its recent 1.21-1.22 range, but is
probing below at 1.2080 as we write. The recent sustained boost in NZ interest
rates has pressured this cross.
EUR was sold from 1.3230 to 1.3115, but has recovered to 1.32 this
morning. ECB's Trichet said no decision on central bank corporate bond
purchases had been made, quashing the weekend's media reports. USD/JPY
was initially sold from 97 to 96 on the auto news, but then rebounded higher to
The Dallas Fed
manufacturing survey improved to -49 in March. The index is now well off
the October to December lows, but nevertheless suggests manufacturing activity
is still contracting fast. This month's improvement was driven by the new
orders component, same as other regional Fed indices. The outlook question was
less pessimistic, with 40% of manufacturing executives foreseeing increased
production in six months. But the employment component plunged to a new cycle
low of -46.6.
Japan Feb industrial production fell in line with expectations,
-9.4%mth drop exceeded only by the record -10.2%mth in Jan and -9.8%mth
recorded in Dec. The annual rate has now slide to record -38.4%yr from -31%yr
All European Commission March business and consumer confidence surveys slipped
further to all time lows. It was not surprising to see industrial sentiment
fall to -38 from -36. More disturbing was the further decline in consumer
confidence from -34 to -33. The business climate indicator fell to -3.58 from
Eurozone PMI improved to 44.1 from 42.3, slightly incongruous with
BoE mortgage approvals picked up in Feb to 38k, the highest since May last
year but still down by two-thirds from the boom days.
UK new mortgage lending exceeded repayments by just GBP1.5bn, while
consumer lending fell short of repayments by GBP200mn. Good news for
economic sustainability, bad news for retailers.
house prices fell by 0.6% in March, 10.3%yr, according to Hometrack.
NZD has been well supported by the rise in swap yields
recently. We don't believe rates will remain at these elevated levels beyond a
few weeks, and that should remove one supporting factor. Shorter term, it's
impossible to predict how long the rates volatility lasts, and accordingly, we
have low confidence in our short term NZD forecast. Should we see an upward
breakout of today's range of 0.56 to 0.5650, we'll be eyeing that as a medium
term shorting opportunity. Today's NBNZ business confidence report could be a
Country Release Last Forecast
Mar NZ Mar NBNZ Business Confidence â€“41.2% â€“
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