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IMF’s Christine Lagarde says oil price slump won’t brighten gloomy global economic outlook

A sharp drop in oil prices and a stronger US economy will probably not be enough to brighten the outlook for global economic growth this year, the head of the International Monetary Fund said.
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IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said while cheaper oil would help consumers in much of the world, the United States would likely be the only major economy this year to buck a trend of weakness in investment and consumption.

“Should lower oil prices and a stronger recovery in the United States make us more upbeat about the prospects for the global economy?” Lagarde said in a speech. “The answer is most likely ‘No.'”

In a speech that previews an IMF report due next week on the global economic outlook, Lagarde said the euro zone and Japan remain at risk of settling into a long period of weak growth and dangerously-low inflation. The spectre of deflation, a nightmarish scenario of falling prices and wages, remains a risk for Europe, she said.

At the same time, the IMF also sees economic growth slowing in emerging market economies, led by a slowdown in China.

“A shot in the arm (from lower oil prices) is good, but if the global economy is weak on its knees, it’s not going to help,” Lagarde said.

Beyond being a boon for consumers, low oil prices are more a “golden opportunity” for countries to reduce energy subsidies and focus government spending more on alleviating poverty, Lagarde said.

Reuters

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need2know: ASX set to open lower

ASX, markets, ASX, markets,
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ASX, markets,

Local shares are poised to open modestly lower, following Wall Street’s lead, as earnings from Citigroup and Best Buy disappointed investors.

What you need2know:

• SPI futures down 14 points at 5266

• AUD at 82.13 US cents, 95.75 Japanese yen, 70.79 Euro cents and 54.13 British pence

• In late trade, S&P 500 -0.6%, Dow -0.3%, Nasdaq -1.1%

• In Europe, Stoxx 50 +2.2%, FTSE +1.7%, CAC +2.4%, DAX +2.2%

• Spot gold up $US28.77 or 2.3% to $US1257.49 an ounce

• Brent oil down 81 US cents or 1.7% to $US47.88 per barrel

• Iron ore adds 0.5% to $US68.63 per metric tonne

What’s on today

US December consumer prices, industrial production, consumer sentiment, capital flows, European Union consumer price index.

Stocks to watch

Deutsche Bank has a “buy” recommendation on BHP Billiton and a $38.00 target price.

UBS has a “neutral” recommendation on Santos and a $9.60 price target.

Australia’s biggest infrastructure investor, IFM Investors, has made its first foray into Mexico after buying 25 per cent of a toll road in Mexico City from Spain’s OHL for $737 million.

Currencies

The Swiss National Bank shocked financial markets by scrapping a three-year-old cap on the franc, sending the safe-haven currency soaring against the euro. The move came a week before the European Central Bank is expected to unveil a massive bond-buying programme that might have forced the SNB to intervene repeatedly to defend the cap.

ANZ’s outlook for the $A, before the SNB’s decision: “We downgrade our AUD forecasts for the end of 2015 from USD0.82 to USD0.74, and for the end of 2016 from USD0.80 to USD0.72. We also reassess our view on AUD/NZD and expect it to remain range bound around these historic lows.”

Commodities

Gold rose to a 4-month high after a shock move by Switzerland to abandon its three-year cap on the franc sent global shares and bond yields into turmoil. Spot gold rose as much as 2.4 per cent to its highest level since September 8 at $US1260.30 an ounce.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rebounded but it likely won’t hold. “From the fundamental view, the current prices cannot be justified, but I don’t think fundamentals are playing such an important role at the moment, so we need to look at the technical side, where the next support level is between $US5000 and $US5230,” said analyst Daniel Briesemann at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Oil prices steadied below $US49 a barrel after a volatile day with North Sea Brent and US crude oil dipping towards near six-year lows as another big US bank slashed its oil price forecasts. Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its crude oil forecasts saying Brent could go as low as $US31 by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

United States

US stocks are on track for a fifth day of losses as bank results disappointed and investors focused on concerns about the effect of global weakness on US earnings.

The S&P financial sector, down 1.4 per cent, led the day’s decline. Bank of America lost 4.3 per cent and was among the S&P 500’s biggest drags after the second-largest US bank by assets reported a 14 per cent slump in quarterly profit. Citigroup shares fell 3.5 per cent after its quarterly results.

The benchmark S&P has fallen for four straight sessions and nine of the past 11 days. It is down more about 4 per cent from its last record high December 29. The CBOE Volatility index was on track for a fifth day of gains.

Europe

Europe’s main stock markets shot higher after Switzerland’s central bank scrapped a policy to artificially hold down the value of its currency against the euro. Swiss stocks plunged.

“It is a period of huge confusion and you are seeing these really big seismic moves in markets,” said Nick Lawson, a managing director at Deutsche Bank in London. “These kind of wide swings deter investors rather than encourage them.”

With Switzerland’s economy heavily dependent on exports, investors feared that a strong franc could dent earnings at Swiss companies and dumped their stocks, sending the Swiss Market Index tumbling. It ended the day down 8.7 per cent to 8400.61 points. “I am at a loss for words,” Swatch group’s boss Nick Hayek told news agency ATS.

What happened  yesterday

Shares on Thursday fell for a fourth straight day, but ended well off the day’s lows thanks to strong jobs data and a rebound in Asian markets. The S&P/ASX 200 fell 22.2 points, or 0.41pc, to 5331.4.

Tribeca Investment Partners, Regal Funds Management and Katana Asset Management have topped this year’s Mercer performance tables for best performance by an Australian equities manager.

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ASX looks at soft start despite European surge

Local shares have had a rough start to the year, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 down 1.5 per cent for 2015. Photo: Angus Mordant Local shares have had a rough start to the year, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 down 1.5 per cent for 2015. Photo: Angus Mordant
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Local shares have had a rough start to the year, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 down 1.5 per cent for 2015. Photo: Angus Mordant

Local shares have had a rough start to the year, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 down 1.5 per cent for 2015. Photo: Angus Mordant

need2know: Soft start in store for ASX

Soaring European shares, thanks to a shock move from the Swiss central bank to scrap a cap on its safe-haven currency and a surging Australian dollar against the euro, don’t look to be enough to help the local market shake off concerns about global growth on Friday morning.

Local shares have had a rough start to the year, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 down 1.5 per cent for 2015. SPI futures are down 12 points, at 7.25AM AEDT and the index is starring down the barrel at five straight losing sessions.

On Thursday, the ASX200 slipped 0.4 per cent to 5331.36. Shares did start the day lower, thanks to poor leads from the United States, but recovered thanks to better-than-expected employment data, showing the jobless rate fell 0.2 per cent to 6.1 per cent.

The Australian dollar surged 2.4 per cent against the euro to 70.75 euro cents, and at one point touched 71.07 euro cents, its highest level since September.

The jump was stirred by the Swiss central bank’s shock decision to abandon its cap on the Swiss franc, which had been in place for three years. The cap was put in place to prevent the strong franc from causing deflation and recession. The moved triggered a 17.8 per cent jump for the franc against the euro.

Against the greenback, the Australian dollar pushed 0.8 per cent higher to US82.12¢.

Concerns about economic growth have weighed on global markets since Wednesday morning when the World Bank revised down its forecast for world gross domestic product to 3 per cent in 2015.

The news hit commodity prices hard, especially copper, which plummeted 5.2 per cent on Wednesday. However, it has since pared back some of its losses, adding 2.6 per cent overnight.

Brent crude continued its decline below $US50 per barrel, slumping 3.2 per cent to $US48.28, while iron ore posted a modest 0.5 per cent gain to $US68.63 per tonne.

Disappointing financial results from banks as well as global growth concerns are likely to push Wall Street to its fifth straight losing session, despite the World Bank report that revised down global GDP pointing out the strength of the US economy. The S&P500 is down 2.9 per cent this year.

European markets soared thanks to the removal of the cap on the Swiss currency, with most major markets finishing more than 1 per cent higher. The Eurostoxx 50 jumped 2.2 per cent, London’s FTSE100 lifted 1.7 per cent, France’s CAC surged 2.4 per cent and Germany’s DAX finished 2.2 per cent higher.

The Australian 10-year government bond recovered from the record low reached Thursday morning, 2.57 per cent, adding 4.1 per cent to be trading at 2.674 per cent on Friday morning.

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Melbourne university student joins IS: reports

A Melbourne university student who has reportedly travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State has called for fellow extremists to “spill blood in Australia”.
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Roxburgh Park man Suhan Rahman, 23, has posted photos of himself on social media posing with machine guns and alongside Sydney extremist Mohamed Elomar.

Mr Elomar is notorious for posting photos of himself holding severed heads in Syria.

Other posts show what appears to be a dead body and an edited photo of Rahman with a gun captioned “Werecomin” (sic).

The Australian Federal Police counter-terrorism squad has interviewed Rahman’s family and is monitoring his overseas activities, News Corp Australia has reported.

Victoria Police is also reportedly investigating threats Mr Rahman made over social media on Monday.

Mr Rahman is studying building management at RMIT, according to News Corp.

He took to social media yesterday to praise the terrorists who attacked the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris last week and called for attacks in Australia.

“I say stuf the peaceful protests. Spill blood young aussies. Dont be humiliated especially if u cant b here in sham (Syria),” one post read.

In another post, he appears to call for retribution against Australian newspapers which this week published images of the front cover of Charlie Hebdo showing the prophet Muhammad holding a “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie” in English) sign.

“Theres no good left in u if none of u do something about the australian newspaper mocking our prophet pbuh,” he posted.

“They say were all charlie. I say that means uze all deserve death and worse.”

Mr Rahman’s father Lutfur told News Corp his son had brought shame on his family.

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Gallery: Southern Storm v Northern Force

Gallery: Southern Storm v Northern Force Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs
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Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Northern Force took on Southern Storm as part of the intrastate under-14 cricket carnival. Picture: Phillip Biggs

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