Indices traded indecisively overnight, whilst dollar and oil have continued to the downside.
EURUSD trades above 1.2070, Crude in the lower 44s, and Brent in the low 47s.
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Australia's economy rebounds sharply in third-quarter from COVID-19 recession
Australia’s economy rebounded sharply in the third quarter from a coronavirus-induced recession as consumer spending surged though the country’s top central banker signalled monetary policy will stay accommodative for a while.
Data out earlier showed the A$2 trillion ($1.5 trillion) economy expanded by a bigger than expected 3.3% in the September quarter, following a 7% contraction in June, as the country largely got COVID-19 under control.
The rebound was led by household spending, which rose 7.9%, driven by massive fiscal and monetary stimulus since March.
Economic growth is expected to be “solidly positive” in the December quarter as well, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said, underscoring the country’s success in curbing the pandemic.
The optimism is underlined by card spending data by the country’s biggest banks which showed consumers splurged in the last week of November during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
Top lender Commonwealth Bank reported a 12% jump in spending on cards for the week-ending Nov. 23 from last year while ANZ saw a 28% surge.
Australia is not yet out of the woods, as escalating tensions with top trading partner China hang heavily on the outlook.
Despite the brisk pace of quarterly growth, economic output is still down 3.8% over the year after Australia entered its first recession in three decades in the first half of 2020 due to coronavirus-driven lockdowns.
Lowe said the third-quarter GDP result was “good” but warned an economic recovery from the pandemic will likely be “bumpy and uneven” going forward.
“There is still a high degree of uncertainty about the outlook,” Lowe told lawmakers.
“We are prepared to do more, if that is required. Having said that, we are still of the view that a negative policy interest rate in Australia is extraordinarily unlikely.”
On Tuesday, the bank left its cash rate at a record low 0.1% and maintained its A$100 billion quantitative easing programme.
Despite the measures, unemployment is still hovering above 7%, from around 5% before the pandemic, while inflation and wage pressure are weak.
“Make no mistake, Australia is still functionally in a recession,” said Callam Pickering, economist at global job site Indeed.
“Both fiscal and monetary support measures will need to remain in place throughout 2021 and beyond to ensure that the recovery remains on track.”
Lowe's full speech can be found here
The Key Points
• Economic outlook significantly better than 3 months ago
• Q3 GDP result is good
• Plausible that pandemic caused lasting damage to economy, investment
• Wages, prices pressures likely to remain subdued -australia’s recovery will be uneven, bumpy, drawn out -expect gdp growth to be solidly positive in q320, q420
• Unemployment likely to peak somewhere between 7-8%
• Addressing high rate of unemployment is priority for reserve bank board
• Bigger stability risk is protracted period of high unemployment
• Keeping an eye on households attitude to debt in current environment
• Need to get unemployment rate to 4 point something to get inflation higher
• Won’t adjust rates until inflation in 2-3% range
• Negative policy rate benefits outweighed by costs
• Open mind on extending QE - will be looking at the economy, what other central banks are doing
Biden: ‘We’re Going to Fight Like Hell by Investing in America First’
Biden’s top priority, he said, is getting a generous stimulus package through Congress, even before he takes office.
“if Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations,” and lift the sanctions on Iran that Trump imposed.
On China, he said he would not act immediately to remove the 25 percent tariffs that Trump imposed on about half of China’s exports to the United States — or the Phase 1 agreement Trump inked with China that requires Beijing to purchase some $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services during the period 2020 and 2021 — which China has fallen significantly behind on.
“I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs,” he said. “I’m not going to prejudice my options.”
He first wants to conduct a full review of the existing agreement with China and consult with our traditional allies in Asia and Europe, he said, “so we can develop a coherent strategy.”
“The best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our — or at least what used to be our — allies on the same page. It’s going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies.”
NHS ready to provide Covid vaccine within days
The NHS, which is in charge of the vaccine programme, is understood to have formally requested assistance from the Ministry of Defence via the "Military aid to the civil authorities" (Maca) protocol.
The Telegraph has also learned that a major hospital trust in London expects Britain's first coronavirus vaccinations to take place as early as Monday after NHS bosses appealed for volunteers to administer the jab from 7am that day.
A senior Government source said: "All of these preparations are being made in advance of any decision about any vaccine being approved by the independent regulator. If one vaccine is found to be safe and effective, we can move ahead quickly with distribution – because vaccinating millions of people is a significant logistical challenge."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:
“The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use. This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
Japan Parliament Passes Bill to Provide Free Covid Vaccinations
Japan’s parliament passed a bill to provide coronavirus vaccinations free of charge with the central government covering the cost, offering a key plan to stem the virus as the country struggles with its worst-yet wave of infections.
Wednesday’s passage in the upper house of parliament following approval in the more powerful lower house will bring the law into effect. It also makes local governments responsible for administering the immunizations, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Suga has vowed to secure enough doses of vaccine for the “people of the country” by the first half of next year and it remains unclear to what extent foreign residents will be eligible for free vaccinations.
Two U.K. Retail Collapses Threaten 25,000 Jobs in 24 Hours
- Debenhams prepares to close doors, Arcadia starts insolvency
- Country is set to lose 235,000 retail positions this year
The U.K. retail industry suffered one of the harshest blows yet after two of the country’s best-known retailers collapsed, putting 25,000 jobs at risk in less than 24 hours.
Debenhams said Tuesday morning it’s preparing to close its doors for good after failing to find a buyer. Late Monday, Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which owns brands including Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, began insolvency proceedings.
Both retailers have anchored malls and main streets across Britain for decades and operate about 600 stores combined. U.K. retailers have suffered a double whammy: the pandemic hit as many were struggling to adjust to online competition. The industry is set to lose 235,000 retail jobs this year, according to the Centre for Retail Research.
The failure of Arcadia and Debenhams is “truly devastating” in a country where main streets are being increasingly hollowed out, said Richard Lim, chief executive officer of Retail Economics, a consultancy. “We cannot overstate the significance of the collapse given the vast property portfolio, number of jobs impacted and the reverberations felt across the industry.”
SoftBank Is Winding Down Options Trading After Investor Backlash
- Most derivatives will be allowed lapse by the end of December
- SoftBank will keep underlying investments in big tech stocks
SoftBank Group Corp. is quietly winding down its controversial derivatives strategy after a sustained backlash from investors, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Japanese conglomerate is letting its options expire, instead of maintaining its positions, the people said, who declined to speak publicly. About 90% of the contracts will close out by the end of December because they are short-term, according to one of the people. SoftBank will hold on to its underlying portfolio of big tech stocks, which included Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc., the person said.
House seen backing bill that could block Chinese firms from U.S. securities markets
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass legislation this week that could prevent some Chinese companies from listing their shares on U.S. exchanges unless they adhere to U.S. auditing standards, congressional aides said on Tuesday.
The House is scheduled to vote on Wednesday evening on “The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act,” which bars securities of foreign companies from being listed on any U.S. exchange if it has failed to comply with the U.S. Public Accounting Oversight Board’s audits for three years in a row.
Aides said there is bipartisan backing for the measure. Measures taking a harder line on Chinese business and trade practices generally pass Congress with large margins.
The measure also would require public companies to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government.
The bill would give Chinese companies like Alibaba, China Telecom Corp Ltd and China Mobile Ltd three years to comply with U.S. rules before being removed from U.S. markets.
Oil prices fell on Wednesday, extending its prior losses, after an unexpected build in US crude oil inventories, with API data showing on Tuesday a 4.146-million-barrel build for the week ending November, 27th.
In addition, uncertainty as to whether major oil producers would agree to extend its deep output cuts lingered. Reuters reported that OPEC+ delayed the OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting to December, 3rd.
The meeting was originally due to have taken place on December 1st. Meanwhile, Norway’s oil production cuts are due to ease on December 31st. Prices were already under pressure on fears over a resurgent of COVID-19 infections globally, with more restrictions on travel across Europe and the US.
Traders now await crude oil supply data from the US EIA later in the day. At around 06:15 AM GMT, WTI crude fell 0.8% to $44.21 a barrel, while Brent crude dropped 0.7% to $47.11 a barrel.
Looking ahead, Michel Barnier will be briefing EU ambassadors this morning at 07:30 GMT.
There have been reports of unrest on the EU side, and this briefing has been scheduled at the last minute.
In my view, this is all political theatre before any final deal can be sold to the 'people', and there's a good chance yesterday's talk of 'entering the tunnel' will be called into question.
Barnier faces pressure from national capitals over Brexit compromises
ECB's Lane will speak this afternoon, Powell's testimony will be a repeat of yesterday's speech.
Markets are likely to ignore data today, although the API inventories will be closely monitored.
A build in the inventories could be positive for oil, potentially 'confirming' the need for OPEC+ to continue at current reduced output levels. The final decision is due tomorrow.
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