China cuts wholesale gas price by 25%; US manufacturing perks up; labour market nears full employment; Republicans push for Fed to set rates using set formula; UST 10yr yield 2.25%; oil low; NZ$1 = 65.6 US¢, TWI-5 = 71.3

Here’s my summary of the key events overnight that affect New Zealand, with news there are signs the worst of the US’s manufacturing rout is probably over.

The latest Philadelphia Federal Reserve report shows factory activity in the region rose more than expected in November, after two straight declines in September and October. The report came on the heels of data on Tuesday showing a healthy increase in manufacturing output across the US last month.

The US labour market is continuing to strengthen, as it approaches full employment. Claims for unemployment benefits slipped to a seasonally adjusted 271,000 last week, with economists saying there’s little scope for them to drop further. 

The US Republicans have advanced their call for more transparency and oversight in the way the Fed sets interest rates. The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would make the Fed set rates using a mathematical rule based on economic indicators like employment and inflation. 

While it’s likely the White House will veto the proposal, the bill highlights the suspicion conservative lawmakers have of the bank’s policies. Fed Chair Janet Yellen says the bill would hamper the Fed’s independence, while President Obama says the proposal will prevent the Fed’s ability to fight recessions. 

China is cutting its price of wholesale natural gas by nearly 25% in a bid to boost slowing growth in demand for the clean fuel. China’s cooling economy has seen demand for gas slump, forcing energy giants to resell or renegotiate long-term global supplies. This is the second time authorities have intervened by cutting the ‘city gate’ price, which local distributors or gas firms pay to pipeline operators. 

In New York, the UST 10yr yield benchmark has slipped to 2.25%. 

The US benchmark oil price remains in a slump at US$40/barrel, while the Brent benchmark is at US$44/barrel. US stockpiles have risen to their highest level for this time of year in 75 years.

The price of gold has picked up a little overnight, reaching US$1,082/oz.

The New Zealand dollar has risen a cent against the US overnight, to 65.6 US¢. The dollar’s up to 91.3 AU¢ and has jumped to 61.2 euro cents. The TWI-5 is up 100bp to 71.3.

If you want to catch up with all the local changes yesterday, we have an update here.

The easiest place to stay up with event risk today is by following our Economic Calendar here »

Daily exchange rates

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for(i=0;i

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