Markets Overview

  • ASX SPI 200 futures down 0.7% to 7,198.00
  • Dow Average down 1.0% to 32,816.92
  • Aussie down 1.1% to 0.6733 per US$
  • U.S. 10-year yield rose 6.6bps to 3.9432%
  • Australia 3-year bond yield fell 3 bps to 3.57%
  • Australia 10-year bond yield fell 6 bps to 3.82%
  • Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,811.04
  • Brent futures up 1.2% to $83.16/bbl

Economic Events

  • 11:00: (AU) Australia to Sell A$300 Million 3% 2047 Bonds
  • 11:30: (AU) 4Q Company Operating Profit QoQ, est. 1.8%, prior -12.4%
  • 11:30: (AU) 4Q Inventories SA QoQ, est. 0%, prior 1.7%

Reserve Bank of Australia chief Philip Lowe’s expectation of further interest-rate rises ahead has prompted economists and money markets to narrow the odds of a recession in the $1.5 trillion economy.

There is now a better than one-in-three chance of a slump over the next 12 months, a Bloomberg survey showed, up from one-in-four late last year when Lowe signaled a rate pause was in the offing. In the US, by contrast, recession probability has begun to come down.

The turnaround follows a jump in inflation that unnerved the RBA, prompting a hawkish pivot and for traders to price in four more hikes. That compares with expectations for Federal Reserve rate cuts around the end of the year.

The RBA embarked on its tightening cycle in May — two months after the Fed — and then moved at a more cautious pace. Lowe argued Australia was different to global peers and inflation would ease as supply chains disentangled. The RBA was aiming, the governor said, to bring the economy in for a soft landing.

But then inflation soared to a 32-year high in the final three months of 2022 as prices were buttressed by strong domestic demand. Lowe’s message adjusted as he acknowledged Australia had the same challenges as the rest of the world. In February, he raised rates and delivered a hawkish message — surprising markets after the RBA had considered a pause in December.

“The path between containing inflation and recession becomes narrower the longer central banks delay aggressive action against inflation,” said Stephen Miller, a Sydney-based investment strategist at GSFM. “The RBA’s prevarication through 2022 has meant that path has got much narrower than necessary.”

The RBA was among the first central banks to downshift to quarter-point hikes in October, a time when the Fed was still moving in 75 basis-point increments. Australian unemployment was then near a 50-year low and job vacancies were at record highs and Lowe wanted to preserve some of those gains.

Miller suggests that might have been a better time to push harder with rate hikes, rather than now, when unemployment is rising and the economy shed jobs in the past two reports.

Expectations for more aggressive RBA action come against a deteriorating backdrop, with consumer sentiment slumping to near recessionary levels. By contrast, US consumers have proved more resilient despite the Fed hiking rates by 4.25 points compared with the RBA’s 3.25 points.

The confidence surveys are starting to be “confirmed by increasing anecdotes from some of the corporates,” said Andrew Canobi, director of Australian fixed income at Franklin Templeton Investment Australia in Melbourne.

“One example of course is Domino’s Pizza who are telling us that customers are now switching from getting their pizza delivered to save a few bucks by coming and picking it up.”

While Lowe still hopes to engineer a soft landing, he recently said there’s a possibility of being “knocked off that narrow path” as rates push higher. Analysts expect a sharp slowdown in the economy this year, with GDP data for the final three months of 2022 due Wednesday.

Other News

Disney fanatic Jeff Reitz has been the happiest person on earth for over a decade.

On Tuesday, Reitz was finally recognized as the Guinness World Record holder for his streak of consecutive visits to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

Reitz visited the “Happiest Place on Earth” for 2,995 consecutive days, a streak that began on January 1, 2012 and ended on March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 50-year-old from Huntington Beach, California, who first made headlines in 2017 after reaching 2,000 consecutive visits, said he started the journey on New Year’s day in 2012 with an ex-girlfriend when they were both unemployed and thought it would be fun to visit the theme park every day during the leap year.

“It started as a joke between friends,” Reitz told Guinness World Record for his record announcement.

As Reitz’s Disney journey gained more traction, his celebrity status around the theme park rivaled Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

“Then I started having guests in the parks stop me for photos and autographs,” Reitz told the outlet.

Throughout his historic trips, Reitz made a variety of postings on Instagram, dedicated to giving his followers news updates about rides and attractions, sharing videos of him throughout the park, and even photos of Disney cast members.

After securing a job as a hospital worker, Reitz still visited the park — with friends and by himself — and made sure to mark certain occasions.

“Even to hold a full-time job required me to keep close tabs on the park calendar along with my own to be sure I could make it into Disneyland before it closed when they had special events,” Reitz said.

Reitz told the outlet he likes to walk around, maybe go on some rides or just relax in a certain area.

“I would usually take a walk around the park. I enjoy photography so I was always watching for images to capture that I could post to share,” he added.

Reitz didn’t always go on all the rides but he did have a favorite one, “There is only one ‘ride’ in Disneyland, being Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”

When it was announced in mid-March 2020 that Disneyland would temporarily close due to the pandemic, Reitz documented every moment of the final day of his streak, making eight posts showcasing the final walks of characters and the last sweep-through of the park.

Disney awarded the fanatic with a gift basket and an Honorary Citizenship certificate after his 366th visit. He was offered dinner for completing his second year and was gifted a backpack on Day 2,000.

(New York Post)