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Episode details

Roland Houghton 

Good morning. It’s Monday the 23rd of August and I’m rolling from Milford. The rbnz had surprised the market by choosing to delay the much expected rate hike. Citing the COVID flare up as the key reason, we would expect them to raise interest rates when New Zealand comes out of lockdown. In the US, the Michigan consumer sentiment index fell quite materially in the preliminary August print. It recorded the lowest readings since December 2011, and was due to fears around the Delta variant. There were some interesting call outs within the data. And republican states consumer sentiment was at a record low whereas democratic states printed a very strong number. This may also be due to a much higher vaccination rate in democratic states. In addition, household inflation expectations increased to 3% from 2.8%. In Australia, July employment data was released, which surprisingly saw the unemployment rate for 28 basis points to 4.63%. This however, was mainly driven by a 21 basis point contraction in the participation rate. Unfortunately, underemployment increased again to 8.7% and is now only slightly below February 2020. Levels would expect to see this continue to soften as lockdowns take hold. Ozzie wage inflation was also released and despite a strong employment recovery, it was a pretty soggy outcome. Wages grew point 4% quarter on quarter taking full year wage inflation to 1.7%, which is low relative to history. If you adjust for inflation, real wage growth was actually quite negative, meaning consumers have less purchasing power this year compared to last year. Finally, the US dollar continues to strengthen amid fears of slowing global growth and times where risk appetite declines the US dollar generally performs quite well. The Aussie dollar fell 3% last week against the US dollar settling at 71 cents on Friday evening. The key equity news was definitely bhps announcements and everyone it’s coming home. The plan is to collapse the jeweler substructure and have a secondary listing in the UK with the primary listing here in Australia. This is estimated to cost four to 500 million US dollars, but bhp believe it will give them a high level of agility and an ability to use this script for various acquisitions. It will also allow them more flexibility around Capital Management such as buybacks. This does require shareholder approval both here and in the UK. Simultaneous to this they’re also looking to merge their oil and gas assets into Woodside petroleum. Chinese data continues to soften as does sentiment which is weighed on the resource sector, I know has fallen over 30% this month. With the iron ore price settling around $130 look 12 months ago, a $100 iron ore price would have seen amazing so this is still very high relative to history. This put downward pressure on the share price of many resource companies around the world with Rio for example, falling 11% last week, we’ve had many Australian retailers report the results with most seeing incredibly strong operating leverage, leading to very impressive EBITDA growth. Trading updates for July and August however, will also release and like for like sales have gone quite negative as companies try and comp the very strong trading period this time last year. Turning to the week ahead, US GDP data is released and the market expects 6.6% quarter on quarter growth. We also have the Jackson Hole economic symposium this week. This is essentially a forum that focuses on important economic issues that face world economies. The focus will likely be on Fed chair Jerome Powell statements given increasing signaling that the Fed may begin to taper this year. Domestically, we’re entering the apex of small cap reporting season with 123 companies expected to release their full or half year results this week. Again, we look for guidance and how companies are navigating these turbulent times. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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