A review of things you need to know before you go home on Friday; Auckland sales drop but building work continues to grow; record car sales; job growth flattening; commodity prices rise; sharemarket manipulator found guilty; more schools; NZD falls

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

MORTGAGE RATE CHANGES
No changes to report today.

DEPOSIT RATE CHANGES
Westpac has reduced its 5 mth term deposit rate to 3.35% for deposits over $10,000. NZCU South have raised their 1 yr, 18 mth and 2 yr rates by 5bps.

LOWEST IN 16 YEARS
Barfoot and Thompson sold just 556 homes in February, the lowest number of sales it has made in any month since December 2010 and the lowest number of sales in the month of February for at least 16 years. At the same time the number of new listings the company is signing up is soaring, which is also pushing up its inventory of unsold homes available for sale.

BUILDING WORK GROWTH SLOWS
$5.3 bln worth of building work was completed in New Zealand in December 2016, 20.9% more than December 2015. While this appears impressive, the y-o-y growth is only 14.3% in constant prices, versus 16.2% and 15.5% in the previous two quarters. 55% of the nominal growth was in the Auckland region, which added $2.0 bln worth of buildings, including $1.0 bln worth of new homes.

RECORD CAR SALES
Over 8,000 new passenger cars and over 3,700 commercial vehicles were sold last month, both new records for February. This means that a record 150,000 plus new vehicles have been sold in the past 12 months. The most popular of all vehicles sold were SUVs, with 39.5% of the market. Toyota was the market leader in both passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

JOB ADS GROWTH FLATTENING
While job ads growth remains strong, 18.5% for the three months ending in February, compared to a year ago, growth seems to be flattening recently. In Auckland, jobs ads seem to have peaked in November. The strongest sectors for job growth continue to be construction, utilities, manufacturing and transport. This may be a factor in the rising commercial vehicle sales above, which have made a y-o-y record in all of the last 16 months.

MODEST INCREASE IN COMMODITY PRICES
While global commodity prices rose 2.0% in February, the strength of the NZD in February saw commodity price gains in NZD restricted to 0.6%. Global prices for dairy products, our biggest export, were up 1.2% for the month but there seems to be some softening of the market along with improved supply conditions.  Despite this, strong Chinese demand should support prices.

A WIN FOR THE FMA
Milford Asset Management portfolio manager Mark Warminger has been found guilty on two counts of sharemarket manipulation and cleared of eight others in a High Court case brought by the Financial Markets Authority. The court says Warminger did manipulate the market in trading of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare shares on May 27, 2014, and of trading in A2 Milk shares on July 9, 2014. The issues of whether the Court should set a pecuniary penalty, the quantum of such a penalty, and costs, are yet to be determined in the civil case.

EDUCATION PPP EXPANDS
The Government is pushing ahead with more school development under the PPP model. Six new schools (four Auckland primary schools and two Christchurch secondary schools) will form a set to be designed, constructed and managed by ShapEd outside the normal State capex structures. It is a $220 mln project, designed to stop cost escalations and provide overall value for money. The previous two PPP school projects have won design awards.

HOT SALE
The Treasury’s $1.5 bln September 2040 linker tender attracted bids of $2.4 bln. The syndicated offer carries a yield of 2.69% pa plus inflation.

WHOLESALE RATES STABLE
New Zealand wholesale swap rates have not followed the rise in US rates overnight. They were all within 1 bps of this morning’s open. The 90 day bank bill rate is unchanged at 2.00%.

NZ DOLLAR FALLS
The NZD has fallen 1.4% to 70.4 USc since this time yesterday, most of it in overnight trading. This was primarily due to increased likelihood of a March rise in the Fed Funds Rate. However, the NZD has also fallen against all other majors, except the AUD, and now trades at  93.3 AUc and at 67.0 euro cents. The TWI-5 index is now at 76.4. Check our real-time charts here.

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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