Talk Money with Tony Field – August 26, 2015

It had all started so well (Reuters)
It had all started so well (Reuters)

They say a week is a long time in politics. Well, a few hours is a long time in the financial markets.

Even a few minutes must have seemed too long for Wall Street investors this morning as they watched a strong rally disappear.

It had all started so well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average initially rallied by more than 400 points.  European markets closed with gains of over 3 percent. Wall Street's tech-heavy Nasdaq was up by 3.5 percent.

There were three reasons for the rally. Some investors were bargain hunting. Some were cheered up by statistics showing that new home sales in the United States rose by 5.4 percent last month compared to a year ago.

Many were relieved that China's central bank had announced it was cutting interest rates again in an effort to boost the slowing Chinese economy. That decision was revealed after the Chinese stock market had another shocker of a day. The Shanghai Composite lost more than 7 percent and is now down more than 40 percent from its peak.  All of this year's gains have been wiped.

So China is cutting its benchmark lending rate by 0.25 percent to 4.6 percent. That is the fifth cut since November.

It will also cut the reserve requirement ratios for most big banks by 0.5 percent.

The hope is that lower rates will help consumers and businesses who borrowing money and lift consumer confidence.

But Chinese citizens, businesses and public authorities are carrying large levels of debt. Perhaps that was part of what sparked the late day sell-off on Wall Street.

Perhaps too it was some profit taking by traders who were buying at the bottom of the market yesterday?

The Dow turned a gain of more than 441 points into a loss of 205 points, or 1.29 percent.

The broader S&P500 closed 1.33 percent lower, after being 3 percent higher at one point.

The Nasdaq finished 0.44 percent lower.

Apple cut an intra-day gain of 7 percent to a gain of just 0.6 percent.

The volatility continues.

Air New Zealand has announced record pre-tax earnings of $496 million. That is 49.6 percent up on last year and a record for the airline.

Chairman Tony Carter says: "Our strategic initiatives over the past three years have positioned us well to take advantage of market dynamics which have contributed to these results."

The result comes six days after Qantas announced a pre-tax profit of AU$975 million. That was a big turnaround from a loss of AU$646 million a year ago.

Its subsidiary, Jetstar Group, said that its New Zealand operation was profitable for the first time. However it did not reveal actual numbers.

Both Qantas and Air New Zealand have been big winners from the fall in aviation fuel prices.

Mr Carter says: "We indicated at our interim result that lower fuel prices and current sales momentum have strengthened the company's outlook, and this has seen the delivery of a record annual result that our shareholders and staff can be immensely proud of."

Air New Zealand will pay a bonus of up to $1400 to 8000 staff who are not already on other incentive schemes.

The airline's net profit after tax increased 24 percent to $327 million.

The slowdown in dairy is no secret and has been widely discussed

It is the key reason for the slowing New Zealand economy, according to a new report from The Institute of Economic Research (NZIER).

But it says there are plenty of other sectors of the economy that are performing well.

The NZIER says business and consumer confidence has deteriorated, with the effects most apparent in dairy-intensive regions.

It predicts that the economy will slow to close to 2 percent growth this year, before rebounding next year thanks to a lower New Zealand dollar.

NZIER says: "Recent events in China highlight how quickly things can change. The surprise devaluation in the yuan by the Chinese government has raised fears about the true growth outlook for China's economy. But the continued rise of its middle class bodes well for demand for our key exports."

It points out "the outlook for many other sectors is positive, and the economy is receiving a boost from continued strong net migration.

"Construction remains solid, supported by strong house-building demand in Auckland and a pick-up in demand for new office space and industrial buildings. We expect this will remain a key support of economic activity through the next five years."

It says tourism is a "standout" performer, with more people coming to New Zealand, staying longer and spending more.

Demand is growing for beef, wool and kiwfruit.

The NZIER predicts that the Reserve Bank will cut interest rates twice more before the end of the year. Although that could fuel the housing market, the RBNZ will want to cut because inflation is soft.

The New Zealand dollar started the morning stronger against the US. But it has lost ground following the sell-off on Watt Street.

At 5am it was trading at 65.20 US cents but by 9am had slipped to 64.81. That compares to 65.10 around twenty four hours earlier.

The kiwi is trading at 90.89 Australian cents, compared to 90.56 yesterday morning.

It's buying 56.27 euro cents, up from 55.91 yesterday morning.

The kiwi is 41.30 pence, compared to 41.16 yesterday.

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