Risk sentiment remained elevated last night. US equities (S&P500) rose around 1% at the open, but were unable to make a new 2009 high and gave back almost half the gains, the Fed's Beige Book adding some caution around the prospects for growth. Their survey indicated that while the economic trough had probably passed, loan demand is weak and credit standards tight, with the economy yet to show broader growth. The Chicago Fed's Evans said it's too early to tighten, but any rising inflation pressures would elicit a response. The Fed news helped bonds, which initially suffered a 6bp selloff on higher equities, and with the 10yr auction deemed successful, the net result post-Sydney was flat. Oil was little changed, but copper fell 1.7% attributed to the weak US consumer credit report.
Several majors made new 2009 highs. The US dollar (index) reached 76.80 and now targets September 2008 support at 75.90. EUR reached 1.4601 during London's afternoon, falling back to 1.4550. USD/JPY's six-month low of 91.61 wasn't sustained, the pair back above 92.00.
AUD shrugged off the soft retail sales data and bounced from Sydney's closing dip to 0.8566 reaching 0.8669, before settling this morning at 0.8505.
NZD broke the 0.7000 barrier (touched 0.7008) before falling back to 0.6950. AUD/NZD moved higher off its 1.2340 Sydney afternoon low to 1.2403, pulling back to this morning's 1.2373.
US Fed Beige Book recorded stable or improving economic activity in most regions of the US, suggesting the recession is over. However, the Beige Book was circumspect about the strength of the recovery, citing flat retail sales, a weak labour market, and ongoing tight credit conditions. In addition to tight credit availability, loan demand was described as weak in most districts. Commercial real estate was singled out as a particularly vulnerable. By contrast, residential housing was described as "showing signs of improvement".
UK Aug Nationwide house prices rose 1.6%, the fastest monthly gain since December 2006. Prices are now just 2.7% lower than a year ago and have been rising steadily since February.
UK Aug Nationwide consumer confidence ticked up to 63 from 60, the highest since June 2008.
UK Aug BRC shop price index fell 0.1%, slipping into annual deflation for the first time. The monthly index was flat, suggesting some weakness in parts of the CPI basket.
UK Jul trade balance -GBP6.3bn, continuing the trend towards a narrowing deficit.
Canada Aug housing starts rose 12.1%, stronger than expected and further confirming Canada's housing rebound.
AUD and NZD outlook today: AUD and NZD remain the flag-bearers for risky currencies. Our tactical recommendation is to buy on dips, particularly back to their 0.8500 and 0.6900 key support levels. There's major event risk today, the RBNZ meeting at NZT, and Australia's employment report a few hours later. A dovish surprise from the RBNZ would likely send AUD/NZD higher.
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