Population growth for Australia has slowed

Australia: 

Annual population growth slowed from 1.6% in the June quarter to 1.5% in the September quarter.

It was down from a recent peak of 1.8% in March 2013, but remains a relatively strong pace of growth in comparison to other OECD countries. 

Share Markets:

US share markets were down slightly.

There was little news in overnight economic data.

The main focus was a sharp rebound in the oil price which weighed on transportation stocks. The Dow Jones and S&P500 indices both dropped 0.2%. 

Interest Rates: 

US treasuries fell (yields rose), continuing to move in the same direction as equity markets rather than inversely.

There was some positive data last night, which supported the view that there remained good momentum in the US economy and helped to push up yields. 

Yields on 10-year US treasury notes rose 7 basis points to 1.99%.

Yields on Australian bond futures lifted in tandem. The 3-year lifted 4 basis points to 1.73% and the 10-year was up 7 basis points to 2.40%.

Foreign Exchange:

The US dollar regained some of its lost ground against the euro over the past few weeks. Jobless claims and the Markit Services PMI may have helped support the US dollar.

The Australian dollar initially edged higher, but then weakened to be little changed at around US$0.783.

Commodities:

Oil prices rose strongly on escalating tensions in Yemen.

Air strikes led by Saudi Arabia raised concerns that the tensions would disrupt a major oil supply route. Prices of other commodities also rose.

Gold prices rose in line with oil prices. Meanwhile, copper prices have risen on the back of mine closures in major-copper-producer Chile due to floods. 

Europe:

The German GfK consumer confidence index rose to 10 in April from 9.7 in March.

April was the highest reading since 2001. Taken with the lift in business confidence yesterday, Germans are clearly more optimistic in the wake of the ECB quantitative easing program.

United States:

US initial jobless claims fell to 282k for the week ending 21 March. The four-week moving average has fallen back below 300k and continues to signal strength in the US labour market.

US Markit services PMI rose to a six-month high of 58.6 in March, a positive sign that activity in the services sector is improving.



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