Thu 12 Apr 2018


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In Portfolioticker today

read_this Hey Jarvis, how did we go today?

Today at the stock market

bull/bearWall Street led stocks higher globally on Thursday, more than offsetting declines in Asia, as an expected strong earnings season took front seat after U.S. President Donald Trump cast doubt over the timing of his threatened strike on Syria.

  • the S&P 500 index rose 21.8 points, or 0.83%, to 2,663.99
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 293.6 points, or 1.21%, to 24,483.05
  • The Nasdaq Composite index rose 71.22 points, or 1.01%, to 7,140.25.
  • Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a 1.20-to-1 ratio and on the Nasdaq, for a 1.84-to-1 ratio.
  • Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.12 billion shares, compared to the 7.27 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

The risk of clashes between Western powers and Russia in Syria over an alleged chemical attack eased somewhat as Trump reworded his Wednesday threat that missiles “will be coming” while taunting Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

trumptweet_20180412

Trump wrote on Thursday that an attack on Syria “could be very soon or not so soon at all.” Later, he said decisions will be made “fairly soon.” More: Bloomberg

Earnings Season

Investors turned their focus to U.S. corporate earnings as BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, reported quarterly profit above Wall Street estimates with its shares up 1.5%.

BlackRock’s results boosted bank shares, which were the largest gainers on Thursday, likely on bets that increased exchange traded funds trading will benefit their bottom lines. Higher U.S. Treasury yields also gave banks support.

“People are looking forward to earnings season. Market participants are not wanting to miss out if (earnings are) as good as the forecasts say they will be,” said Tracie McMillion, head of global asset allocation strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Facebook Inc was a notable laggard among technology stocks, falling 1.5% following a 5.3% gain over the past two days when Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress on the social network’s data security.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc shares dived 20.0% after the company’s full-year profit forecast missed estimates.

Analysts expect quarterly profit for U.S. benchmark S&P 500 index companies to rise 18.4% from a year ago, the biggest gain in 7 years, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“We’re hearing less talk of firing missiles and less talk of trade war. Earnings are coming up and expectations are high,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director of institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee. The stock market, he said, is “returning to normal.” More: Bloomberg

Investor sentiment was also boosted by the weekly U.S. initial jobless claims report, which pointed to sustained labor market strength.

The higher risk appetite as geopolitical tensions eased boosted U.S. Treasury yields. The safe-haven Japanese JPY also fell.

“There is less immediate concern about military strikes or action in Syria. It doesn’t move it to the back-burner, but it allows you to look around and trade other things and that gives room for rates to rise just a little bit from their sort of cramped or compressed levels,” said Jim Vogel, interest rates strategist at FTN Financial in Memphis.

Oil

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told Reuters in New Delhi the global oil glut has effectively shrunk by nine-tenths since the start of 2017. “We have seen an accelerated shrinkage of stocks in storage from unparalleled highs of about 400 million barrels to about 43 million above the five-year average,” Barkindo said.Reuters and Reuters

Market indices

Market indices
^ S&P500 Index today (mouseover for 12 month view) [Chart: Google Finance]

Index Ticker Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
S&P 500 SPX (INX) 2,663.99 +0.82% 2,673.61 -0.36%
DJIA INDU 24,483.05 +1.21% 24,719.22 -0.96%
NASDAQ IXIC 7,140.25 +1.00% 6,903.39 +3.43%

Portfolio Indices

USD and AUD denominated indices over the past 52 weeks (Chart: Bunting)
^ USD and AUD denominated indices over the past 52 weeks Chart: Bunting

Index values

Index Currency Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
USD-denominated Index USD 3.199 +0.93% 3.068 +4.29%
Valuation Rate USD/AUD 0.78043 -0.03% 0.78528 -0.62%
AUD-denominated Index AUD 4.101 +0.95% 3.909 +4.93%

Portfolio stock prices

Stock Ticker Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
Alphabet A GOOGL $1,037.29 +1.19% $1,053.00 -1.5%
Alphabet C GOOG $1,032.51 +1.22% $1,045.65 -1.26%
Apple AAPL $174.14 +0.98% $169.23 +2.90%
Amazon AMZN $1,448.5 +1.50% $1,169.54 +23.85%
Ebay EBAY $40.53 +1.75% $37.76 +7.33%
Facebook FB $163.87 -1.48% $176.46 -7.14%
PayPal PYPL $77.46 +1.25% $73.61 +5.23%
Twitter TWTR $29.00 -1.33% $24.01 +20.78%
Visa V $121.07 +1.07% $114.02 +6.18%
VMware VMW $122.15 +0.54% $125.32 -2.53%

Selected Tech News Headlines

  • Facebook’s Zuckerberg unscathed by congressional grilling, stock rises: “Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg fielded 10 hours of questions over two days from nearly 100 U.S. lawmakers and emerged largely unscathed and considerably richer. He parried questions of how much control people have over their data on the world’s largest social media network without a major gaffe, while avoiding being cornered into supporting new government regulation. The hearings that ended on Wednesday revealed no consensus among U.S. lawmakers about what kind of privacy legislation they might want to pursue, if any, and no timeline for action. As he did on Tuesday before a Senate hearing, Zuckerberg refused during a House of Representatives committee hearing to make any promises to support new legislation or change how the social network does business. “It is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation” of internet firms, Zuckerberg said, but he avoided any specifics.” Reuters
    • EU Justice Commissioner held ‘constructive’ talks with Facebook’s Sandberg: “European Union Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said she had a “constructive and open discussion” with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg about the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Thursday.”. Reuters
    • Russia asks Facebook how it complies with data law: “Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor has asked Facebook to explain how it is complying with a Russian law on data localization, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday”. Reuters
  • Google poised to emerge unscathed from European antitrust crackdown: “The European Union’s top antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager, has made it her mission to stem alleged anti-competitive abuses by big American tech companies, threatening as recently as last month to break up Alphabet Inc’s Google. But a decision in the most important of three antitrust cases against Google – this one aimed at loosening its stranglehold over Android-powered smartphones – is likely to show just how difficult it is, even for a committed trust-buster like Vestager, to dent the power of the U.S. giants. The final ruling, expected within the next few months, will likely involve a multi-billion-dollar fine and an end to clauses in licensing agreements that stop smartphone vendors from promoting alternatives to apps such as Google Search and Maps, people familiar with the European Commission’s thinking say. The decision, which is expected to hew closely to recommendations made in 2016 soon after the probe began, will almost certainly leave Google’s market dominance intact because the incentives to stick with the company are so strong, say industry executives, analysts and even its foes. Robert Marcus, a former member of Microsoft’s mobile strategy team and now general partner at investment firm Quantum Wave Capital, said it was “virtually impossible” that any EU penalty would “change anything massively for Google.” The case holds lessons for regulators in Europe and elsewhere as they pursue Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon over practices including anti-competitive conduct, tax avoidance and a cavalier approach to user data and hate speech.” Reuters

FX: USD/AUD

USD

DXY movements
^ Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index (DXY) movements today (mouseover for 12 month view) Chart: Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s Dollar Spot Index (DXY) was on track to snap a four-day losing streak as it rose 0.21%, with the EUR down 0.3% to USD1.2328.

“It’s a reversal of the safe-haven trade that lifted the yen and the Swiss franc earlier in the week,” said Karl Schamotta, director of global product and market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.

Japan’s JPY weakened 0.43% to 107.27 per USD, while the USD was up 0.48% against the Swiss CHF.

Britain’s GBP was last trading at USD 1.4227, up 0.36%.Bloomberg

AUD

AUD movements
^ AUD movements against the USD today (mouseover for 12 month view) Chart: xe.com

Oil and Gas Futures

OPEC Monthly Oil Report. Apr 2018

OIL MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

Crude Oil Price Movements

In March, the OPEC Reference Basket (ORB) increased by less than 0.5% to $63.76/b. Oil futures ended about 1% higher in a relatively volatile month, following US equity market movements and supported by robust oil demand growth forecasts, tightening US crude stocks and geopolitical tensions. ICE Brent was 99¢, or 1.5%, higher at $66.72/b from the previous month, while NYMEX WTI gained 59¢, or 0.9%, to average $62.77/b. Year-to-date, ICE Brent was $12.66 higher at $67.23/b. The NYMEX WTI/ICE Brent spread widened slightly month-on-month, as the steep inventory declines in Cushing, Oklahoma, subsided. Hedge funds increased net long positions in ICE Brent and NYMEX WTI in March to 1.08 million contracts. For the month, the Dubai structure flipped back into contango, while Brent and WTI structure remained in backwardation, albeit at a reduced level.

World Economy

The global GDP growth forecast remains at 3.8% for both 2017 and 2018. Expected US growth in 2018 is unchanged from the previous month at 2.7%, after growth of 2.3% in 2017. Growth in the Euro-zone was revised up to 2.3% in 2018, following growth of 2.5% in 2017. Japan’s 2018 growth forecast remains at 1.5%, after actual growth of 1.7% in 2017. India’s and China’s 2018 GDP growth forecasts remain unchanged at 7.2% and 6.5%, respectively, following 2017 GDP growth of 6.3% and 6.9%.

World Oil Demand

World oil demand growth for 2017 was adjusted higher by around 30 tb/d to 1.65 mb/d, mainly to account for up-to-date data in both OECD and non-OECD regions. Total world oil demand is now pegged at 97.07 mb/d for the year. Similarly, world oil demand growth in 2018 was revised higher by 30 tb/d, compared to last month’s report, to now stand at 1.63 mb/d. This mainly reflects the positive momentum in the OECD in the 1Q18 on the back of better-than-expected data, and supported by development in industrial activities, colder- than-anticipated weather and strong mining activities in the OECD Americas and the OECD Asia Pacific. In the non-OECD region, Other Asia saw an upward revision of 30 tb/d in the 1Q18 as a result of better-than- expected demand in the industrial and transportation sectors in the first two months of the year. In contrast, oil demand growth was adjusted lower by 30 tb/d in the 1Q18 in the Middle East region. This mainly reflects slower-than-expected regional oil demand developments. Total world oil demand for the year is forecast to average 98.70 mb/d.

World Oil Supply

Non-OPEC supply for 2017 was revised up by 0.03 mb/d, mainly due to updated Canadian production data, to now show growth of 0.9 mb/d for the year. For 2018, non-OPEC supply was also revised up by 0.08 mb/d from the previous month’s assessment, to now show growth of 1.71 mb/d year-on-year. This is on the back of higher-than-expected output in the 1Q18, mainly in the FSU and the US, as well as some upward adjustments elsewhere. Non-OPEC supply is now estimated to average 59.61 mb/d for 2018. OPEC NGLs and non-conventional liquids’ production is estimated to grow by 0.18 mb/d year-on-year to average 6.49 mb/d in 2018. In March, OPEC crude production decreased by 201 tb/d to average 31.96 mb/d, according to secondary sources.

Product Markets and Refining Operations

Product markets in the Atlantic Basin exhibited strong gains during March, strengthening sharply amid the onset of the spring refinery maintenance season. In the US, support came from higher gasoline demand, gasoline price adjustments from the winter-to-summer Reid Vapour Pressure (RVP) grade switch, and higher gasoline drawdowns. In Europe, product markets strengthened, supported by higher middle distillate demand and tighter middle distillate inventories. Meanwhile, product markets in Asia weakened slightly, with losses seen across the barrel due to lower arbitrage opportunities, and lower heating requirements.

Tanker Market

Average dirty tanker spot freight rates were flat in March. Generally, dirty tanker rates were depressed for all classes despite some relative gains for Suezmax from a month earlier. Weak freight rates were registered on all major trading routes as the market continues to suffer from tonnage oversupply, while the level of activities remains insufficient to relieve the imbalance. Moreover, reduced delays and fleet expansions pressured freight rates in March. In the clean tanker market, average freight rates declined slightly affected by weaker rates in the direction West of Suez.

Stock Movements

Preliminary data for February shows that total OECD commercial oil stocks fell by 17.4 mb to stand at 2,854 mb, which is 43 mb above the latest five-year average. Crude stocks indicated a surplus of 55 mb, while product stocks saw a deficit of 12 mb below the five-year average. In terms of days of forward cover, OECD commercial stocks rose in February to stand at 60.6 days, which is 0.6 days lower than the latest five-year average.

Balance of Supply and Demand

In 2017, demand for OPEC crude is estimated to stand at 32.9 mb/d, 0.6 mb/d higher than the 2016 level. In 2018, demand for OPEC crude is forecast at 32.6 mb/d, 0.3 mb/d lower than in 2017.

FEATURE ARTICLE

Summer Product Market Outlook

Product markets in 2017 saw record-high refinery margins across the globe, and this encouraging momentum for global product markets has continued in the 1Q18. In the lead up to the summer season in the northern hemisphere, indicators are pointing to this positive and optimistic outlook remaining in place.

The US is typically the key driver for product markets in the run-up to the summer driving season. Demand in the US had an excellent start to the year, with monthly data for January 2018 showing combined gasoline and diesel growth of around 845tb/d y-o-y, and total combined oil products growth of around 1 mb/d, the highest in 22 years . The weekly data for February and March has further supported this positive trend. In addition, most of the products showed an encouraging trend, with diesel oil seeing strong growth. Demand for diesel oil was encouraged by the positive macroeconomic indicators, higher demand for residential heating fuel, higher domestic freight shipment, up by 12% y-o-y, and a stronger y-o-y housing market.

Furthermore, this optimism is supported by continuous draws in major oil product stock categories, with US gasoline stocks dropping for five consecutive weeks and distillates stocks dropping for eight out of nine weeks to now stand below the five-year average. At the same time, US commercial crude oil stocks are far below the levels witnessed in the last few years, standing below the latest five-year average for the last three weeks. These developments could lead to tightening market prospects during the summer, lending additional support to refining margins.

Additional backing could be derived from vehicle sales, which have shown strong increases in the EU in the first two months of 2018, up by 6.5% compared to the previous year. In Asia, new car sales started strong in 2018 as the six ASEAN nations’ car sales increased by 9% in January y-o-y. In India, new car sales from the three largest car manufacturers also posted strong growth figures compared to the same time last year, and in China new car sales have grown strongly since the beginning of 2018. In addition, the recent lifting of a five-month restriction on heavy-duty trucking and industrial production in northern China is expected to support the regional diesel market. If this trend continues, it could further support product markets in the coming months.

Similarly, reports of impending refinery closures along with crude intake reductions in Latin America will potentially unlock additional product demand in the region and open up export opportunities from other main markets. This will provide further support to the global product market. This positive global momentum is also reflected in global average gasoline retail prices that were up by $10/b y-o-y in the 1Q18, as well as diesel, which increased on average by $14/b compared to the 1Q17 in all major trading hubs.

Looking forward, a healthy global economic forecast for 2018, positive car sales data in recent months, stronger 2018 y-o-y US product consumption in January and potentially tighter global product markets are expected to boost gasoline and distillates demand, which is forecast to grow by around a combined 992 tb/d in 2018. High conformity levels observed by OPEC and non-OPEC producing countries in the Declaration of Cooperation, which has led to the downward trend in oil inventories, particularly in the OECD, should further enhance market stability and support crude and product markets in the months ahead.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), “Monthly Oil Market report. Apr 2018“, 12 Apr 2018 Report

Comment: Reuters

The global oil stocks surplus is close to evaporating, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Thursday, citing healthy energy demand and its own supply cuts while revising up its forecast for production from rivals who have benefited from higher oil prices.

U.S. shale oil output has been booming over the past year since OPEC reduced its own production in tandem with Russia to prop up global oil prices.

But as oil production collapsed in OPEC member Venezuela and is still facing hiccups in countries such as Libya and Angola, the oil exporters’ group is still producing below its targets meaning the world needs to use stocks to meet rising demand.

OPEC said in its monthly report oil stocks in the developed world reversed a rise in Jan 2018 to fall by 17.4 million barrels in Feb 2018 to 2.854 billion barrels, around 43 million barrels above the latest five-year average.

“We have achieved an over 150 percent conformity level. We have seen an accelerated shrinkage of stocks in storage from unparalleled highs of about 400 million barrels to about 43 million above the five-year average,” OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told Reuters in New Delhi, referring to OPEC’s commitments under the supply-cutting pact. He said the glut has effectively shrunk by nine-tenths since the start of 2017.

Stock levels are now 207 million barrels below their level in Feb 2017, with crude stocks in a surplus of 55 million barrels and product stocks in a deficit of 12 million.

“Looking forward, a healthy global economic forecast for 2018, positive car sales data in recent months, stronger 2018 yea-on-year U.S. product consumption in January and potentially tighter global product markets are expected to boost gasoline and distillates demand …,” OPEC said.

“High conformity levels observed by OPEC and non-OPEC producing countries … should further enhance market stability and support crude and product markets in the months ahead.”

The 14-member, Vienna-based producer group said its collective output, according to secondary sources, fell 201,000 bpd to 31.96 million bpd in March from February, driven by declines in Angola, Algeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Libya.

The figure is below the 32.6 million bpd that OPEC sees as demand for its crude for the whole of 2018.

OPEC, Russia and several other non-OPEC producers began to cut supply in Jan 2017. The pact runs until the end of the year and OPEC meets in Vienna in June to decide on its next course of action. OPEC’s leader Saudi Arabia has said it would like the pact to be extended into 2019.

“There is growing confidence that the declaration of cooperation will be extended beyond 2018,” Barkindo told Reuters. “Russia will continue to play a leading role.”

On Thursday, OPEC also revised its forecast for supply growth from its rivals, non-OPEC, which is now forecast to grow by a further 80,000 barrels per day this year to 1.71 million bpd, driven largely by higher-than-anticipated growth in the first quarter in the United States and the former Soviet Union.

At the same time, it increased its forecast for global oil demand growth for this year by 30,000 bpd to 1.63 million bpd.

“This mainly reflects the positive momentum in the OECD in the 1Q18 on the back of better-than-expected data, and supported by development in industrial activities, colder-than-anticipated weather and strong mining activities in the OECD Americas and the OECD Asia Pacific,” it said in the monthly market report.

Production in the United Arab Emirates posted the largest month-on-month increase, according to the secondary sources, rising by around 45,000 bpd in March to 2.86 million bpd.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia told the group it pumped 9.907 million bpd in March, 28,000 bpd below its Feb 2018 level.

Venezuela reported production of 1.509 million bpd in March, 77,000 bpd below the level it reported in February.Reuters

Futures prices

Prices are as at 15:49 EDT

  • NYMEX West Texas Intermediate (WTI): $67.08/barrel +0.39% Chart
  • ICE (London) Brent North Sea Crude: $72.08/barrel +0.03% Chart
  • NYMEX Natural gas futures: $2.69/MMBTU +0.52% Chart

flag_australia AU: Housing Finance. Feb 2018

Press Release Extract [au_housing]

DWELLINGS FINANCED

Value of Dwelling Commitments

The total value of dwelling commitments excluding alterations and additions (trend) rose 0.2% in February 2018 compared with January 2018, and the seasonally adjusted series rose 1.0% in February 2018.

The total value of owner occupied housing commitments (trend) rose (up $88m, 0.4%) in February 2018. Rises were recorded in commitments for the purchase of established dwellings (up $85m, 0.5%) and commitments for the construction of dwellings (up $5m, 0.2%) while a fall was recorded in the commitments for the purchase of new dwellings (down $1m, 0.1%). The seasonally adjusted series for the total value of owner occupied housing commitments rose 1.3% in February 2018.

The total value of investment housing commitments (trend) fell (down $24m, 0.2%) in February 2018 compared with January 2018. Falls were recorded in commitments for the purchase of dwellings by individuals for rent or resale (down $61m, 0.6%) and commitments for the construction of dwellings for rent or resale (down $11m, 0.9%), while a rise was recorded in commitments for the purchase of dwellings by others for rent or resale (up $47m, 4.0%). The seasonally adjusted series for the total value of investment housing commitments rose 0.5% in February 2018

au_housing1_20180412

Number of Owner Occupied Dwellings Financed

The number of owner occupied housing commitments (trend) fell 0.6% in February 2018, following a fall of 0.7% in January 2018. Falls were recorded in commitments for the purchase of established dwellings excluding refinancing (down 330, 1.2%), commitments for the purchase of new dwellings (down 31, 1.0%) and commitments for the construction of dwellings (down 7, 0.1%). The seasonally adjusted series for the total number of owner occupied housing commitments fell 0.2% in February 2018.

Number of Owner Occupied Dwellings Financed – State

Between January 2018 and February 2018, the number of owner occupied housing commitments (trend) fell in New South Wales (down 81, 0.5%), Queensland (down 77, 0.7%), Western Australia (down 70, 1.4%), Victoria (down 66, 0.4%), the Australian Capital Territory (down 15, 1.3%) and South Australia (down 7, 0.2%), while a rise was recorded in Tasmania (up 2, 0.2%) with Northern Territory being flat.

The seasonally adjusted estimates fell in Queensland (down 377, 3.6%), Western Australia (down 24, 0.5%), the Australian Capital Territory (down 17, 1.4%), Victoria (down 12, 0.1%) and the Northern Territory (down 1, 0.2%), while rises were recorded in New South Wales (up 249, 1.5%), South Australia (up 165, 4.7%) and Tasmania (up 23, 2.2%).

First Home Buyer Commitments

In original terms, the number of first home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner occupied housing finance commitments fell to 17.9% in February 2018 from 18.0% in January 2018. Between January 2018 and February 2018, the average loan size for first home buyers rose $300 to $327,700. The average loan size for all owner occupied housing commitments fell $6,800 to $382,200 for the same period.

Number of Owner Occupied Dwellings Financed Excluding Refinancing

The number of owner occupied housing commitments excluding refinancing (trend) fell 1.0% in February 2018, following a fall of 1.2% in January 2018. The seasonally adjusted series fell 0.1% in February 2018, following a fall of 1.6% in January 2018.

PURPOSE OF FINANCE (OWNER OCCUPATION)

Construction of dwellings

The number of finance commitments for the construction of dwellings for owner occupation (trend) fell 0.1% in February 2018, following a fall of 0.4% in January 2018. The seasonally adjusted series fell 7.1% in February 2018, after a rise of 4.6% in January 2018.

Purchase of new dwellings

The number of finance commitments for the purchase of new dwellings for owner occupation (trend) fell 1.0% in February 2018, following a fall of 1.1% in January 2018. The seasonally adjusted series rose 6.6% in February 2018, after a fall of 5.7% in January 2018.

Purchase of established dwellings (including refinancing across lending institutions)

The number of finance commitments for the purchase of established dwellings for owner occupation (trend) fell 0.6% in February 2018, following a fall of 0.7% in January 2018. The seasonally adjusted series rose 0.4% in February 2018, after a fall of 1.4% in January 2018.

Refinancing

The number of refinancing commitments for owner occupied housing (trend) rose 0.2% in February 2018, following a rise of 0.4% in January 2018. The seasonally adjusted series fell 0.4% in February 2018, after a rise of 0.3% in January 2018.

TYPE OF LENDER (OWNER OCCUPATION)

Banks

The number of commitments for owner occupied dwellings financed by banks (trend) fell 0.6% in February 2018, following a fall of 0.7% in January 2018. The seasonally adjusted series was flat in February 2018, after a fall of 1.3% in January 2018.

Non-banks

The number of commitments for owner occupied dwellings financed by non-banks (trend) fell 0.8% in February 2018, following a fall of 0.6% in January 2018. The seasonally adjusted series fell 1.7% in February 2018, after a rise of 2.6% in January 2018. The number of commitments for owner occupied dwellings financed by permanent building societies (trend) fell 10.7% in February 2018, following a fall of 10.6% in January 2018.

HOUSING LOAN OUTSTANDINGS

At the end of February 2018, the value of outstanding housing loans financed by Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs) was $1,651b, up $7b (0.5%) from the January 2018 closing balance. Owner occupied housing loan outstandings financed by ADIs rose $7b (0.6%) to $1,089b and investment housing loan outstandings financed by ADIs rose $0.6b (0.1%) to $562b.

Bank housing loan outstandings rose $8b (0.5%) during February 2018 to reach a closing balance of $1,614b. Owner occupied housing loan outstandings of banks rose $7b (0.7%) to $1,060b and investment housing loan outstandings of banks rose $0.7b (0.1%) to $554b.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, “5609.0 Housing Finance. Feb 2018“, 12 Apr 2018 (11:30 AET) More

flag_europe EU: Industrial Production. Feb 2018

Press Release Extract [eu_production]

In February 2018 compared with January 2018, seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 0.8% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.7% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In January 2018, industrial production fell by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.3% in the EU28.

eu_prod_20180412

In February 2018 compared with February 2017, industrial production increased by 2.9% in the euro area and by 3.1% in the EU28.

Monthly comparison by main industrial grouping and by Member State

The decrease of 0.8% in industrial production in the euro area in February 2018, compared with January 2018, is due to production of capital goods falling by 3.6%, durable consumer goods by 2.1%, intermediate goods by 0.8% and non-durable consumer goods by 0.5%, while production of energy rose by 6.8%.

In the EU28, the decrease of 0.7% is due to production of capital goods falling by 2.7%, durable consumer goods by 1.6%, intermediate goods by 1.0% and non-durable consumer goods by 0.4%, while production of energy rose by 5.1%.

Among Member States for which data are available, the largest decreases in industrial production were registered in Lithuania (-3.9%), Estonia (-2.7%), Malta and Portugal (both -2.3%), and the highest increases in Latvia and the Netherlands (both +3.9%), and Croatia (+2.1%).

Annual comparison by main industrial grouping and by Member State

The increase of 2.9% in industrial production in the euro area in February 2018, compared with February 2017, is due to production of energy rising by 5.7%, intermediate goods by 2.9%, non-durable consumer goods by 2.4%, capital goods by 2.2% and durable consumer goods by 0.8%.

In the EU28, the increase of 3.1% is due to production of energy rising by 4.6%, capital goods by 3.2%, intermediate goods by 3.1%, non-durable consumer goods by 2.2% and durable consumer goods by 1.4%.

Among Member States for which data are available, the highest increases in industrial production were registered in Latvia (+8.7%), Poland (+7.5%) and Slovenia (+7.2%). Decreases were observed in Malta (-7.7%), Greece (-1.9%) and Bulgaria (-1.0%).

Eurostat, “Industrial production. Feb 2018“, 12 Apr 2018 More

flag_usa US: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report

Press Release Extract [us_ui]

In the week ending April 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 233,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 242,000. The 4-week moving average was 230,000, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 228,250.

Claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands have still not returned to normal.

us_ui

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.3 percent for the week ending March 31, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 31 was 1,871,000, an increase of 53,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up 10,000 from 1,808,000 to 1,818,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,850,250, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 5, 1974 when it was 1,838,500. The previous week’s average was revised up by 3,500 from 1,848,250 to 1,851,750.

us_ue

Unadjusted Data

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 231,388 in the week ending April 7, an increase of 30,392 (or 15.1 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 39,473 (or 19.6 percent) from the previous week. There were 239,823 initial claims in the comparable week in 2017.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4 percent during the week ending March 31, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 1,994,554, a decrease of 8,544 (or -0.4 percent) from the preceding week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 65,437 (or – 3.3 percent) from the previous week. A year earlier the rate was 1.5 percent and the volume was 2,136,831.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending March 24 was 2,035,137, a decrease of 110,702 from the previous week. There were 2,261,867 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2017.

Extended benefits were payable in Alaska and the Virgin Islands during the week ending March 24.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 583 in the week ending March 31, an increase of 1 from the prior week. There were 599 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 3 from the preceding week.

There were 9,872 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending March 24, a decrease of 1,821 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 8,006, an increase of 103 from the prior week.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 24 were in the Virgin Islands (4.6), Alaska (3.2), New Jersey (2.7), Connecticut (2.6), Puerto Rico (2.5), Massachusetts (2.4), Rhode Island (2.3), California (2.2), Montana (2.2), and Pennsylvania (2.2).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 31 were in Illinois (+2,504), Pennsylvania (+2,443), New Jersey (+2,081), Ohio (+1,496), and Michigan (+1,471), while the largest decreases were in Texas (-3,120), Connecticut (-1,005), Massachusetts (-877), Florida (-641), and New York (-556).

Employment and Training Administration, “Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report“, 12 Apr 2018 (08:30) More

flag_usa US: Import and Export Price Indexes. Mar 2018

Press Release Extract [us_eximp]

U.S. import prices recorded no change in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, following a 0.3-percent rise in February. Higher nonfuel prices offset declining prices for imported fuel in March. Prices for U.S. exports advanced 0.3 percent in March, after rising 0.2 percent the previous month.

IMPORTS

All Imports

Import prices recorded no change in March following rises of 0.3 percent in February and 0.8 percent in January. The index has not declined on a monthly basis since decreasing 0.2 percent in July 2017. Prices for U.S. imports rose 3.6 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. The last 12-month decline in import prices was a 0.2-percent drop for the period ended October 2016.

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Fuel Imports

Fuel prices fell for the second consecutive month, declining 1.6 percent in March following a 1.0-percent drop in February. The March decrease was the largest monthly decline since the index dropped 3.6 percent in June 2017. Lower prices for both petroleum and natural gas drove the decline in fuel prices. Prices for imported petroleum declined 1.3 percent and natural gas fell 9.5 percent. Despite the decrease in March, fuel import prices advanced 18.7 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. The price index for petroleum imports rose 19.4 percent over the past 12 months. Prices for imported natural gas increased 20.0 percent over the same period.

All Imports Excluding Fuel

Prices for nonfuel imports rose 0.2 percent in March, following increases of 0.5 percent in February and January. Contributing to the March advance were higher import prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; capital goods; and foods, feeds, and beverages, which more than offset declining prices for automotive vehicles and consumer goods. Nonfuel import prices advanced 2.1 percent on a 12-month basis for the second consecutive month, the largest over-the-year increases since a 2.4-percent advance in February 2012. An 8.0-percent rise in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices drove the 12-month advance in March.

EXPORTS

All Exports

Prices for U.S. exports rose for the ninth consecutive month in March, advancing 0.3 percent. Increasing prices for agricultural exports drove the monthly advance, more than offsetting lower nonagricultural export prices. U.S. export prices increased 3.4 percent over the 12-month period ended in March and have not recorded an over-the-year drop since a 0.2-percent decline in November 2016.

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Agricultural Exports

The price index for agricultural exports advanced 3.4 percent in March following a 0.6-percent rise in February. The March increase is the largest monthly advance since agricultural export prices rose 4.8 percent in August 2012. Higher prices for soybeans and wheat contributed to the monthly advance, increasing 7.8 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively. The price index for agricultural exports rose 3.0 percent over the past 12 months, driven by a 6.5-percent increase in meat prices.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture

Nonagricultural export prices ticked down 0.1 percent in March, after rising 0.2 percent in February and 0.9 percent in January. Declining prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials more than offset increases in capital goods and automotive vehicles export prices. Prices for nonagricultural exports advanced 3.4 percent between March 2017 and March 2018, as the price indexes for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials, capital goods, consumer goods, and automotive vehicles all increased.

SELECTED MARCH HIGHLIGHTS

Import Prices

Imports by Locality of Origin: Import prices from China rose for the second consecutive month in March, edging up 0.1 percent. The price index for imports from China increased 0.2 percent over the past 12 months and has not recorded a 12-month decrease since December 2017. Prices for imports from Japan rose 0.2 percent in March following increases of 0.2 percent in February and 0.5 percent in January. Despite the advance in March, the price index for imports from Japan edged down 0.1 percent over the past 12 months. The price index for imports from the European Union rose 0.1 percent in March and import prices from Mexico advanced 0.2 percent, after decreasing 0.5 percent the previous month. In contrast, prices for imports from Canada fell 0.2 percent in March.

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: Import prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials increased 1.0 percent in March, after a 0.8-percent rise in February. Higher prices for iron and steel mill products and lumber each contributed to the March advance, rising 4.0 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.

Finished Goods: Major finished goods prices were mixed in March. Import capital goods prices increased 0.2 percent, driven by a 0.4-percent increase in prices for computers, peripherals, and semiconductors. In contrast, the price index for automotive vehicles decreased 0.2 percent and import prices for consumer goods declined 0.1 percent in March.

Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: The import price index for foods, feeds, and beverages rose 0.6 percent in March following increases of 1.0 percent in February and 0.7 percent in January. Higher prices for vegetables drove the monthly advance, more than offsetting lower fruit prices.

Transportation Services: Import air passenger fares decreased 6.5 percent in March, after a 0.9-percent rise in February. In March, a 14.6-percent drop in European fares more than offset increases of 2.3 percent in Latin American/Caribbean fares and 0.1 percent in Asian fares. Despite the monthly decrease, import air passenger fares advanced 1.5 percent over the past year. Prices for import air freight recorded no change in March and rose 11.4 percent over the past 12 months.

Export Prices

Nonagricultural Industrial Supplies and Materials: Nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials prices fell 0.5 percent in March, after rising 0.2 percent the previous month. Lower fuel prices drove the decrease, more than offsetting increasing prices for chemicals and iron and steel products.

Finished Goods: Prices for the major finished goods categories were mostly up in March. Capital goods prices and automotive vehicles prices each ticked up 0.1 percent, and consumer goods prices recorded no change following a 0.4-percent rise in February.

Transportation Services: Export air passenger fares rose 4.2 percent in March following a 7.9-percent decrease the previous month. The March increase was primarily driven by higher European and Asian fares. The price index for export air passenger fares advanced 2.4 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. Export air freight prices increased 4.3 percent in March and 4.4 percent over the past year. Prices for export air freight have not recorded a 12-month decline since falling 1.1 percent for the year ended February 2017.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Import and Export Price Indexes. Mar 2018“, 12 Apr 2018 (08:30) More

flag_japan Japan update

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flag_china China update

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