Shen Neng 1 grounded on Douglas Shoals, Great Barrier Reef approximately 100km East of Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast. Picture: CHRIS ISON
Shen Neng 1 grounded on Douglas Shoals, Great Barrier Reef approximately 100km East of Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast. Picture: CHRIS ISON Chris Ison

Commodity prices hurt Australia's terms of trade

Australia: 

The trade deficit widened $902mn to $3.3bn in October, the largest in four months. 

Some deterioration was expected as a result of weaker commodity prices and a stronger Australian dollar in the month. 

Exports fell 3.0%, while imports rose 0.2%. The deterioration suggests a less positive start in Australia's trade position in the final quarter of the year.

The AiG performance of services declined in November to 48.2 from 48.9 previously. It was the second consecutive month below 50 signalling contraction. 

This stands in contrast with other business surveys, but could signal softer conditions in some services over the December quarter.

Share Markets:

The European Central Bank (ECB) disappointed markets majorly.

While the ECB did provide additional monetary easing, markets were expecting a larger scale ramp up of its quantitative easing program.

Equity markets tumbled - the Euro Stoxx was down 3.6%, while the Dow was down around 250 points. The S&P500 was down 1.6%.  

Interest Rates:

Bonds were sold off sharply as the ECB failed to live up to market expectations in ramping up its bond purchases or quantitative easing program.

German 10-year bond yields jumped 20 basis points to 0.67%. US treasury bond yields also rose sharply - the US 10-year yield rose 14 basis points to 2.32%.

Australian 3-year bond yields based on futures rose 5 basis points to 2.17%, while 10-year bond yield futures lifted 10 basis points to 2.97%. 

Foreign Exchange:

There was a huge four-cent jump in the euro versus the US dollar, surging from 1.055 before the announcement to trade at 1.095, the highest in a month. 

The increase suggests that investors were largely positioned for a big positive surprise by the ECB. The US dollar also lost ground against the GBP and the Japanese yen.

The Australian dollar rose to its highest in four months helped by the weaker US dollar, trading at 73.6 cents this morning.

However, AUD weakened against the euro following the ECB decision.  

Commodities:

Prices of most commodities rose, helped by the falling US dollar. Gold and oil prices lifted, but copper and other base metal prices fell on concerns over weaker demand from China.

China: 

The Caixin services PMI declined from 52.0 in October to 51.2 in November, suggesting that the services sector expanded at a slower pace.

It stands in contrast to the official non-manufacturing PMI measure which edged up slightly. Nonetheless, the composite PMI by Caixin edged up from 49.9 to 50.5 in November, thanks to an improvement in the manufacturing index, which was the strongest in five months. Signs remain positive that economic growth over 2015 will be close to the authority's 7 per cent target.

Europe:

The European Central Bank (ECB) added to monetary stimulus, but fell way short of market expectations.

The ECB lowered its deposit rate further into negative territory from -0.20% to -0.30%, and extended its asset purchase program by six months to March 2017. The ECB also announced it would begin buying municipal debt, but did not increase the amount of asset purchases.

Japan:

The Nikkei services PMI edged down from 52.2 to 51.6 in November.

United Kingdom:

The UK services PMI edged higher from 54.9 to 55.9 in November, the strongest in five months, although still down from the levels reached in early 2015.

United States:

The ISM non-manufacturing index fell from 59.1 in October to 55.9 in November, versus expectations of 58.0.

The index remains comfortably in expansion territory, but the range of early indicators is suggesting some loss of momentum in the US economy towards the end of the year. 

Factory orders rebounded 1.5% in October, following two consecutive months of decline. Despite the rebound, the outlook for US manufacturing activity appears to be softening following weakening manufacturing surveys in recent months.



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