New car sales continue to slide below last year's levels

Share Markets: 

The more positive sentiment yesterday extended overnight in a quiet session of trading.

US markets were closed for President's Day but the mood was boosted by news over the weekend that new financing in China in January hit a record.

Some upbeat news from Europe also supported sentiment. A new Italian government is hoped to push through reforms after a lift in the outlook for Italy's credit rating by Moody's from "negative" to "stable" on Friday.

Stock markets in Asian trade yesterday were higher, as was the FTSE100, rising 1.1%.

Bonds: 

While US treasury markets were closed, 3-year yields on Australian bonds (implied by futures) rose slightly reflecting stronger risk appetite, while 10-year yields were little changed.

Italian 10-year bond yields fell to their lowest in 8 years on prospects of a new government and a "stable" rating from Moody's.

Foreign Exchange: 

The US dollar index hit a six-week low and a three-week low against the euro on the back of better news from Europe and recent weaker US economic data, although it recovered later on.

The Japanese yen weakened after Japanese economic growth disappointed in the December quarter.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar traded within a narrow range, between 0.9023 and 0.9069.  The RBA minutes is the key short-term event risk for the AUD today.

Commodities: 

Commodity prices, particularly for copper, were boosted by easing fears that Chinese growth was slowing. Gold prices rose to a 3½ month high on a weaker US dollar and after a recent run of weak US economic data.

Australia:

Sales of new motor vehicles fell 3.5% in January to be down 3.0% on a year earlier. Sales remain at an historically high level. The January result comes after near-record sales in December.

Japan:

Japanese GDP rose 0.3% in the December quarter for an annual growth rate of 1.0%. The market had been expecting a stronger outcome given the extent of Japan's monetary stimulus.

Japan is due to implement an increase in sales tax in April which runs the risk of curtailing economic growth in mid-2014.

Japanese industrial production rose 0.9% in December, down slightly on the preliminary reading of 1.1%.

New Zealand:

Real, inflation adjusted, retail spending rose 1.2% in NZ during the December quarter. This came on top of a 0.2% rise in the previous quarter.

United Kingdom: 

UK house prices accelerated to 6.9% in the year to February, according to the Rightmove index of asking prices, the fast gain since 2007.

United States:  T

here was no US data to report due to Presidents' Day holiday.


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