A review of things you need to know before you go home Friday; ASB cuts rates, Liberty raises some, cranes up, wool down, renting 'popular', Youi rogered, gold jumps, swaps and NZD stable

Here are the key things you need to know before you leave work today.

MORTGAGE RATE CHANGES
ASB has cut two key fixed mortgage rates, the first reductions of fixed rates for terms longer than one year by a major bank in 2017.

DEPOSIT RATE CHANGES
Liberty Finance has realigned its rates today, raising them for terms less than one year, especially for larger amounts. But they have trimmed them for terms longer than one year. They no longer have any offers over 5%.

CRANKING IT UP
An April count of the construction cranes at work in New Zealand has totaled 132. This is a new record high, driven by activity in the residential and health sectors.

CAMPAIGN FOR WOOL FLOUNDERS
Suddenly, the wool market is in the doldrums again. The current season’s stocks can’t be sold. The latest wool auction for crossbred wool has crashed, with only 45% of wool on offer sold. This was sharply down from 70-80% in previous previous sales. Sellers tested this latest auction with volumes of previously passed-in stocks but buyers were not interested at sellers reserves. This shows how weak the present market is and concerns are growing of costs of wool storage. Farmers are being urged to keep it at home. If this keeps up, big stocks of wool will be carried over to new season keeping prices lower for longer.

RENTING GROWS TWICE AS FAST
There are now 1,836,000 private dwellings in New Zealand, according to an update from Statistics NZ for the end of March 2017. A third of them (33.2%) are rented, 63.1% of them are occupied by the owner, and just under 4% are accommodation provided free. Five years ago, the proportion renting was 32.2%. In that same time, the rental stock has risen from 540,400 to 609,200, a rise of +68,800. The stock of owner-occupied housing has risen by just +30,000 in the same time.

YOUI ROGERED
The 2016 Roger Award, awarded by the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa for the worst transnational corporation operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand, goes to insurer Youi. The judges described Youi as “one of the most despicable and shameful companies,” saying it “looks to have introduced a new low in an already disreputable industry.” Meanwhile freelance journalist Diana Clement, who exposed Youi’s unethical and morally challenged practices via two interest.co.nz articles last year, received a “special mention” in the Citi Australia journalism awards this week.

RBNZ UPDATES MONEY LAUNDERING RISK ASSESSMENT FOR FINANCIAL SECTOR
The Reserve Bank has issued an updated assessment of the money laundering and terrorism financing risks facing the financial sector, maintaining banks as high risk. This is due to the wide accessibility and availability of banks, the global nature of some banking products and the volume of transactions, including cash, that banks handle. The non-bank deposit taker sector has been maintained as medium risk. However, within this sector credit unions have been upgraded to medium risk from low risk, deposit taking finance companies have been reduced to low risk from medium risk, and building societies are unchanged at medium risk. The insurance sector has been maintained as low risk.

BNZ HEAD OF HR LEAVING
BNZ says Annie Brown, its “director of people and communications,” has resigned after seven years at the bank. A replacement for Brown who has been in BNZ’s executive team for four years, will be announced in due course, BNZ says.

MISREADING THE FUTURE
The soaring property markets in Australia have surprised bank economists there. For example, the NAB team has radically changed their 2017 forecasts. They were forecasting house price growth of +3.4% in 2017, but today have upped that to +7.2%. Now that is a major shift. Unit prices are now forecast to rise by 6.8% when previously the NAB reckoned they would rise just +0.8%. And those prior forecasts involved raised expectations as well. It is clear the lenders in this market have been as surprised as anyone about what is transpiring.

GOLD NOTICED, FEW OTHERS REACT
The US military strike against Syria in retaliation for using chemical weapons hasn’t moved markets much, interest rates or exchange rates. There was a small reaction in equity markets however. But the gold market did move noticeable, rising US$11 to US$1,263/oz.

WHOLESALE RATES UNCHANGED
Swap rates are virtually unchanged today apart from a very minor rise at the very long end. The 90 day bank bill has slipped -2 bps and is now at 1.98%

NZ DOLLAR HOLDS
The NZD has suffered little impact from the US bombing in Syria and is only marginally lower than at this time yesterday at 69.6 USc. Against the AUD, the NZD has held on at 92.5 AUc. Against the EUR we are still trading at around the 65.4 euro cents level. The TWI-5 is 74.9 and up slightly from this morning.

You can now see an animation of this chart. Click on it, or click here.

Daily exchange rates

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for(i=0;i

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