A review of things you need to know before you go home on Friday; ICBC raises mortgage rates, retail spending slows, Apple on top in NZ, swaps rise & steepen, 90 day rates fall to new low, NZD hangs on

Here are the key things you need to know before you leave work today. If you normally skip it, it is worth checking out the ‘Wholesale Rates’ section today.

MORTGAGE RATE CHANGES
ICBC has raised all its mortgage rates today, including their floating rate which is up +15 bps to 5.70%. Fixed rate offers rose by +19 bps to +55 bps.

DEPOSIT RATE CHANGES
There are no rate changes to report today.

RETAIL GROWTH STUNTED
Retail spending using electronic cards was $4.8 bln in February, up $121 mln or +2.6% from the same month a year ago. That is sharply slower growth than we have seen in a long time, July 2012 to be exact. And seasonally adjusted, the February levels were -0.6% lower over the prior month with the fall driven by a lull in furniture, electronics, and department store purchases.

LENDING COMMITMENTS DOWN
New dwelling construction is falling in Australia. Data out today shows it down -1% in January from the same month a year ago, and down -3% in the full year to January. But finance for those dwellings is actually growing, so the fewer units are getting larger loans. But financing pre-existing dwellings has also been falling in the past four months and this tail-off is somewhat surprising on a national level. The stories are all about Sydney (where there is no lending growth) and Melbourne. It is particularly tough in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

A RETURN OF CHINESE DEMAND?
News Corp in Australia is reporting that in a stunning reversal, the overseas Chinese have dramatically re-entered the Sydney and, to a lesser extent, Melbourne off-the-plan apartment markets. The long-term outlook for the apartment market in both cities has therefore completely changed. They also report trend changes on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane. A Chinese banking expert told them that the word from the Chinese banks is that the Chinese government’s clamp down on smaller investors taking money out of the country is likely to be eased later in 2017 – hence the scramble by overseas Chinese to re-enter the market now to buy off-the-plan, with settlement some years away.

CAPITAL CLAMPDOWN HURTS HUGE PROJECT
But, going the other way, the giant Johor, Malaysia development at Forest City opposite Singapore may be in serious trouble. All the sales centres in China have been closed, “dozens”, and all promotion in China stopped. The shine is evaporating without Chinese sales, probably driven by the clampdown on capital flight.

APPLE TAKES NO 1 SMARTPHONE SLOT FROM SAMSUNG
Apple regained top spot in the New Zealand smartphone market during the December quarter for the first time since the first quarter of 2012, International Data Corporation (IDC) says. Apple shipped 221,000 smartphones, Samsung 176,000, and Huawei was third with 143,000. Vendors shipped a record high volume of 672,000 smartphones during the December 2016 quarter, up 58,000, or 9.4%, from the same period in in 2015. Apple’s surge to top spot could be good news for ANZ, given it’s the only NZ bank offering Apple Pay.

TRANSPOWER PRICES BONDS
Transpower has priced a $100 million fixed rate bond issue. The bonds, due to mature in September 2022, will pay annual interest of 4.069%, being a margin of 0.90% over the swap rate. The bonds will be issued on March 16.

WHOLESALE RATES RISE, AND FALL
The New Zealand 10 year swap rate reached a fifteen month high today of 3.64%, pushing up the 2-10 curve steeper to +128 bps, its highest in over three years. The two year rate is unchanged, the five year is up +2 bps and the ten year is up +4 bps. It is also worth noting that since Wall Street closed, the UST 10yr has risen to 2.62%. The 90 day bank bill rate is down again by -1 bp to 1.96% and this is now the lowest rate since the RBNZ started collecting these records 32 years ago, and probably forever. (On March 8, 1985 the 90 day bank bill rate reached 35.5%, a rate only boomers will remember ;).

NZ DOLLAR HOLDS LOWER
The NZD slipped below 69 USc earlier today but has held that level during today’s trading and moving slightly higher at the end. It is now at 69.1 USc. The next move will depend on how tomorrow’s US non-farm payrolls report is received. On the cross rates we are at 91.8 AUc which is where it was at this time yesterday after flirting with a higher level earlier, and at 65.2 euro cents. The TWI-5 index is now at 74.9 recovering from a lower level earlier. Check our real-time charts here or see below.

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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