A review of things you need to know before you go home on Friday; Westpac leads the way down for savers, S&P holds NZ ratings, RBNZ buys kiwi dollars, PengXin makes another big buy; swaps firm

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

TODAY’S MORTGAGE RATE CHANGES
There were no changes to report today.

TODAY’S DEPOSIT RATE CHANGES
Westpac today sliced -10 to -15 bps off its term deposit offers across the board and setting new low benchmarks for these offers among banks. They also cut their term PIE rates.

LAGGING INDICATOR?
Ratings agency S&P has affirmed all its New Zealand sovereign ratings at AA+ and keeps a ‘stable’ outlook on the basis that “fiscal performance will continue to improve”, even as “external debt will remain high”.

BIG BUSINESS
The “Auckland Council Group” reported to the NZX today (because it has debt on issue) saying its operating surplus before gains and losses was $80 mln. Total group debt (net of cash on hand) was $7 bln and the total value of their Assets was $42.2 bln, an increase of +$2.3 billion from the prior year.

INDEPENDENT?
Auckland Council has contracted with Cameron Partners and EY, as independent advisory firms, for advice on assessing alternative sources of financing available to council. They are paying $245,000 for the advice. (Obviously they are not paying their own staff enough to be able to make such assessments.)

‘ROUTINE REBALANCING’
The RBNZ bought NZ$191 mln of currency on the fx markets (which would have had the effect of adding to demand for the Kiwi dollar) in the month of July. But they say these purchases were “routine portfolio rebalancing”, and “do not signal any view on exchange rate”. In June the average NZD/USD rate was 0.6990 whereas the average in July was 0.6652, so the buy-back did not raise the exchange rate.

BIG PROJECT
Construction has now started on the Huntly section of the $2.1 bln Waikato Expressway. The 102 km project is one of the Government’s seven Roads of National Significance and is being built in seven sections. The Huntly section is the fifth section to start and will connect to the already completed Ohinewai section in the north and to the Ngaruawahia section at Taupiri in the south. The 15 km Huntly project will involve four million cubic metres of earthworks, including an 80 metre cutting through the Taupiri Range, and has nine bridges.

DAIRY FIRST, NOW BEEF
China’s PengXin Group is bidding for two huge Australian cattle properties which together could cost more than A$1 bln and would make them the biggest owner of farmland in that country. This is the same company that bought up the Crafar Farms, and Lochinvar Station in New Zealand.

WHOLESALE RATES FIRM
Swap rates were up across the curve again today with a small steepening bias. Two and three year terms are up +1 bp, four, five and seven up +2 bps, and ten years up +3 bps. The 90 day bank bill rate was also higher +2 bps at 2.90%.

NZ DOLLAR HOLDS
The NZ dollar held its level today. It is at 64.8 USc, 90.3 AUc, and the Trade Weighted Index (TWI-5) was at 69.4. 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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