US service sector strong, but not traditional retail; China service sector grows; Japan insurer adopts AI; Vancouver house prices fall -2.2%; UST 10yr 2.37%; oil up, gold jumps while bitcoin slumps; NZ$1 = 70.3 USc, TWI = 76.4

Here’s a special holiday update of some key events and data you may want to know about today.

First up, the American services sector activity held at a one-year high in December as new orders surged. Meanwhile the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to near a 43-year-low last week. But the non-farm payrolls precursor report from ADP came in weaker than expected. Still, overall, the evidence is that the US economy ended 2016 with strong momentum.

That momentum however does not extend to traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers and some of the largest of them are struggling. Sears is divesting key assets to help stay afloat, and Macys has said it will cut more than 10,000 jobs.

In China, their services sector also saw improving ‘new orders’ although employment growth was soft.

In Japan, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is laying off employees and replacing them with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate insurance payouts. The firm believes it will increase productivity by 30%. It expects to save around NZ$1.7 mln a year in salaries after the NZ$2.5 mln system is installed later this month. The system is based on IBM’s Watson, who say it is a “cognitive technology that can think like a human”.

In Vancouver, sales of residential property in the city reached 39,943 in 2016, a -5.6% decrease from 2015, and a +20.6% increase over 2014. The composite benchmark price ended the year at C$897,600, a -2.2% decrease over the past six months but a +17.8% increase compared to December 2015.

In New York, the UST 10yr yield is sharply lower today, now at 2.37%.

The US benchmark oil price is marginally higher and now just over US$53.50 a barrel, while the Brent benchmark is just over US$56.50. The latest data on US crude stocks shows a lot lower levels that were expected.

The gold price has jumped US$16 today, now at US$1,181/oz.

The New Zealand dollar is higher against the greenback and now at 70.3 USc. On the cross rates it has held its own at 95.7 AU¢, and 66.3 euro cents. The TWI-5 is unchanged at 76.4. A dramatic rally in value of bitcoin came to a spectacular end earlier today with a plunge of up to -20% as China’s yuan rose sharply – further evidence of an odd inverse relationship between the pair.

The easiest place to stay up with event risk over the holiday period is by following our Economic Calendar here »

Daily exchange rates

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var tabs_count="7";
var csvfiles_loc= ["/charts-csv/chart_data/exchangerates/daily-usd.csv"," /charts-csv/chart_data/exchangerates/daily-aud.csv"," /charts-csv/chart_data/exchangerates/daily-twi.csv"," /charts-csv/chart_data/exchangerates/daily-yen.csv"," /charts-csv/chart_data/exchangerates/daily-yuan.csv"," /charts-csv/chart_data/exchangerates/daily-eur.csv"," /charts-csv/chart_data/exchangerates/daily-gbp.csv"];
var chart_title_arr= ["US dollar","Australian dollar","Trade weighted index","Japanese Yen","Chinese Yuan","Euro","British pound"];
var chart_subtitles_arr= ["Daily benchmark rate","Daily benchmark rate","Daily benchmark rate","Daily benchmark rate","Daily benchmark rate","Daily benchmark rate","Daily benchmark rate"];
var tab_titles_arr= ["US$","AU$","TWI","u00a5en","u00a5uan","u20acuro","GBP"];
var source_arr= ["RBNZ","RBNZ","RBNZ","RBNZ","RBNZ","RBNZ","RBNZ"];
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var padding_value=0;
var range_selector=0
var loc;
var updt;
var val_num;
var vi=0;
var max_val;
var x;

var finalAr = new Array();
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finalAr[i] = new Array();
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var yaxisAr = new Array();
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else if (arr.length < 536)
{
var b = 537 – arr.length;
}
else if(arr.length == 536)
{
var b=2;
}

// to generate the format for date representation in x axis

var timestamweek = 604800000;
var timestamday = 86400000;
var timestammonth30 = 2592000000;
var timestammonth31 = 2678400000;
var timestamyear = 31536000000;
var timestamquarterly = 7776000000;

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var k=0;

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var k1 =k;

do {
k++;
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var k2=k;

do {
k++;
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var k3=k;

var dd= fomat.substring(0,k1);
var mm = fomat.substring(k1+1,k2);
var yy = "20"+fomat.substring(k2+1,k3+1);
var yy1=fomat.substring(k2+1,k3+1);

// conversion of months into numerical form

//+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
if (mm == "Jan")
{
mm= "01";
}
else if (mm == "Feb")
{
mm= "02";
}

else if (mm == "Mar")
{
mm= "03";
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else if (mm == "Apr")
{
mm= "04";
}

else if (mm == "May")
{
mm= "05";
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else if (mm == "Jun")
{
mm= "06";
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else if (mm == "Jul")
{
mm= "07";
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else if (mm == " Aug")
{
mm= "08";
}

else if (mm == "Sep")
{
mm= "09";
}

else if (mm == "Oct")
{
mm= "10";
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else if (mm == "Nov")
{
mm= "11";
}

else if (mm == "Dec")
{
mm= "12";
}

// +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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{
var timestam1 = Date.parse(date2);
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else if(u==1)
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var timestam2 = Date.parse(date2);
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}
var timestamvar = (timestam2- timestam1);
var flagAR_count=0;
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flagAR_count++;
var tempAr = new Array();
var tempAr1 = new Array();
arr[i] = parseLineCSV(arr[i]);
if (arr[i]!='')
{

fomat= String(arr[i][0]);
replic=String(arr[i][0]);
var k=0;

do {
k++;
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var k1 =k;

do {
k++;
} while(fomat.charAt(k)!="-")
var k2=k;

do {
k++;
} while(k<fomat.length)
var k3=k;

var dd= fomat.substring(0,k1);
var mm = fomat.substring(k1+1,k2);
var current_year=""+new Date().getFullYear();
var c_year=Number(current_year.substring(2,4));
var c_data=Number(''+fomat.substring(k2+1,k3+1));
if(c_data c_year)
{
var yy = “19”+fomat.substring(k2+1,k3+1);
}
else if(c_data == c_year)
{
var yy = “20”+fomat.substring(k2+1,k3+1);
}
// conversion of months into numerical form

//+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
if (mm == “Jan”)
{
mm= “01”;
}
else if (mm == “Feb”)
{
mm= “02”;
}

else if (mm == “Mar”)
{
mm= “03”;
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else if (mm == “Apr”)
{
mm= “04”;
}

else if (mm == “May”)
{
mm= “05”;
}

else if (mm == “Jun”)
{
mm= “06”;
}

else if (mm == “Jul”)
{
mm= “07”;
}

else if (mm == “Aug”)
{
mm= “08”;
}

else if (mm == “Sep”)
{
mm= “09”;
}

else if (mm == “Oct”)
{
mm= “10”;
}

else if (mm == “Nov”)
{
mm= “11”;
}

else if (mm == “Dec”)
{
mm= “12”;
}
// +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

var date = mm+”/”+dd+”/”+yy;

var timestam_1 = Date.parse(date);
var timestam= timestam_1+86400000; //86400000 added to get correct timezone output from Date.parse
var time4 = new Date(timestam);
var Weeko = time4.getDay();
var dd2 = time4.getDate();
var mm2 = time4.getMonth();
var flag_y=arr[i][1];
var ahref_title=”Click here for full story”;
if(arr[i][2]) {
var url=arr[i][2];
var flag_date='{“x”:’+timestam+’, “title”:”  “,”text”:”Click here for Story!”}’;

flagAr[csvgen_counter].push(flag_date);
}
var yy2 = time4.getFullYear();
var yy3 = yy2+””;
var yy4= yy3.substring(2,4);
//++++++++++++++++++++++++this for days conversion++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
if (Weeko==1)
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Weeko = “Mon”;
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Weeko = “Tue”;
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else if (Weeko==3)
{
Weeko = “Wed”;
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else if (Weeko==4)
{
Weeko = “Thu”;
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else if (Weeko==5)
{
Weeko = “Fri”;
}

else if (Weeko==6)
{
Weeko = “Sat”;
}

else if (Weeko==0)
{
Weeko = “Sun”;
}

//+++++++++++++++++++++++this is for month conversion+++++

if (mm2==0)
{
mm2 = “Jan”;
}

else if (mm2==1)
{
mm2 = “Feb”;
}

else if (mm2==2)
{
mm2 = “Mar”;
}

else if (mm2==3)
{
mm2 = “Apr”;
}

else if (mm2==4)
{
mm2 = “May”;
}

else if (mm2==5)
{
mm2 = “Jun”;
}

else if (mm2==6)
{
mm2 = “Jul”;
}

else if (mm2==7)
{
mm2 = “Aug”;
}

else if (mm2==8)
{
mm2 = “Sep”;
}

else if (mm2==9)
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mm2 = “Oct”;
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else if (mm2==10)
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mm2 = “Nov”;
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mm2 = “Dec”;
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fomat2=mm2+”-“+yy4;
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fomat2=mm2+”-“+yy4;
padding_value=timestamquarterly;
range_selector=3;
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fomat2=dd2+”-“+mm2+”-“+yy4;
padding_value=timestamday;
range_selector=3;
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arr[i][0]= fomat2;
var decpad;
decpad = parseFloat(arr[i][1]);
arr[i][1] = decpad;

if(i==(arr.length-1))
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// Functionality to get the last value

var xvalu=dd2+”-“+mm2+”-“+yy4;
var yvalu= String(arr[i][1]);
var xyvalu=”Latest value at “+xvalu+” is “+yvalu;
updt=”Updated on “+xvalu;
}

tempAr.push(timestam);
if(!arr[i][1])
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arr[i][1]=null;
}
yaxisAr[csvgen_counter].push(arr[i][1]);
// tempAr1.push(timestam);
// tempAr2.push(tempAr1);
tempAr.push(arr[i][1]);
last_val=timestam;
finalAr[csvgen_counter].push(tempAr);
}
xpad=last_val+padding_value; //*****************to end up graph early//////
if(arr[i]== “”)
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vi=arr.length-i;
arr.length=arr.length-vi;
i=arr.length-1;
fomat = replic;

var k=0;

do {
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var k1 =k;

do {
k++;
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var k2=k;

do {
k++;
} while(k<fomat.length)
var k3=k;

var dd= fomat.substring(0,k1);
var mm = fomat.substring(k1+1,k2);
var yy = "20"+fomat.substring(k2+1,k3+1);

// conversion of months into numerical form

//+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
if (mm == "Jan")
{
mm= "01";
}
else if (mm == "Feb")
{
mm= "02";
}

else if (mm == "Mar")
{
mm= "03";
}

else if (mm == "Apr")
{
mm= "04";
}

else if (mm == "May")
{
mm= "05";
}

else if (mm == "Jun")
{
mm= "06";
}

else if (mm == "Jul")
{
mm= "07";
}

else if (mm == "Aug")
{
mm= "08";
}

else if (mm == "Sep")
{
mm= "09";
}

else if (mm == "Oct")
{
mm= "10";
}

else if (mm == "Nov")
{
mm= "11";
}

else if (mm == "Dec")
{
mm= "12";
}
// +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

var date = mm+"/"+dd+"/"+yy;
//here flagAr may be
var timestam = Date.parse(date);
var time4 = new Date(timestam);
var Weeko = time4.getDay();
var dd2 = time4.getDate();
var mm2 = time4.getMonth();

var yy2 = time4.getFullYear();
var yy3 = yy2+"";
var yy4= yy3.substring(2,4);
//++++++++++++++++++++++++this for days conversion++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
if (Weeko==1)
{
Weeko = "Mon";
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else if (Weeko==2)
{
Weeko = "Tue";
}

else if (Weeko==3)
{
Weeko = "Wed";
}

else if (Weeko==4)
{
Weeko = "Thu";
}

else if (Weeko==5)
{
Weeko = "Fri";
}

else if (Weeko==6)
{
Weeko = "Sat";
}

else if (Weeko==0)
{
Weeko = "Sun";
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//+++++++++++++++++++++++this is for month conversion+++++

if (mm2==0)
{
mm2 = "Jan";
}

else if (mm2==1)
{
mm2 = "Feb";
}

else if (mm2==2)
{
mm2 = "Mar";
}

else if (mm2==3)
{
mm2 = "Apr";
}

else if (mm2==4)
{
mm2 = "May";
}

else if (mm2==5)
{
mm2 = "Jun";
}

else if (mm2==6)
{
mm2 = "Jul";
}

else if (mm2==7)
{
mm2 = "Aug";
}

else if (mm2==8)
{
mm2 = "Sep";
}

else if (mm2==9)
{
mm2 = "Oct";
}

else if (mm2==10)
{
mm2 = "Nov";
}

else if (mm2==11)
{
mm2 = "Dec";
}
//++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

//weekly
if ( timestamvar == timestamweek)
{
fomat2=dd2+"-"+mm2+"-"+yy4;
}

// Daily
else if ( timestamvar = timestamyear)
{
fomat2=mm2+”-“+yy4;
}

//monthly
else if ((timestamvar <= timestammonth30)&&(timestamvar = timestamquarterly)
{
fomat2=mm2+”-“+yy4;
}

arr[i][0]= fomat2;
var decpad;

decpad = parseFloat(arr[i][1]);
//arr[i][1] = roundVal(decpad);
arr[i][1] = decpad;
if(i==(arr.length-1))
{

var xvalu=dd2+”-“+mm2+”-“+yy4;
var yvalu= String(arr[i][1]);
var xyvalu=”Latest value at “+xvalu+” is “+yvalu;
updt=”Updated on “+xvalu;
}
}

}
}

//other required functions

//chart configuration starts here

function getXMLHttpRequest(file) {

//var arrSignatures = [“MSXML2.XMLHTTP.5.0”, “MSXML2.XMLHTTP.4.0″,
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//for (var i=0; i < arrSignatures.length; i++) {

try
{
var xmlhttp = new window.XMLHttpRequest();
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catch(e)
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function readCSV(locfile) {
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var req = new getXMLHttpRequest(locfile);
//req.open("POST",locfile,false);
req.send("");
return req.responseText.split(/n/g);
}

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lineCSV[lineCSV.length-1]=lineCSV[lineCSV.length-1].replace(/^s*|s*$/g,"");
var fstart = -1;

for (var i=0;i=0) {
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lineCSV[fstart]=lineCSV[fstart]+","+lineCSV[j];
lineCSV[j]="-DELETED-";

}
fstart=-1;
}
}
fstart = (lineCSV[i].match(/^"/)) ? i : fstart;
}

var j=0;

for (var i=0;i<lineCSV.length;i++) {
if (lineCSV[i]!="-DELETED-") {
CSV[j] = lineCSV[i];
j++;
}

}

return CSV;
}

function roundVal(val_num){
var dec = 2;
var result = Math.round(val_num*Math.pow(10,dec))/Math.pow(10,dec);
return result;
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function setdecimalpoints(deca)
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var deca1= deca;
var deca2= parseInt(deca);
if((deca1-deca2)!=0)
{
return 2;
}
else
{
return 0;
}
}
for(i=0;i

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