Markets Overview

  • ASX SPI 200 futures up 0.4% to 7,104.00
  • Dow Average little changed at 34,947.28
  • Aussie up 0.7% to 0.6515 per US$
  • U.S. 10-year yield little changed at 4.4354%
  • Australia 3-year bond yield fell 8.7 bps to 4.09%
  • Australia 10-year bond yield fell 8.5 bps to 4.47%
  • Gold spot little changed at $1,980.82
  • Brent futures up 4.1% to $80.61/bbl

Economic Events

US stocks saw small moves after a $2.7 trillion rally in November that was fueled by bets the Federal Reserve will end its hiking cycle to prevent a recession. The dollar erased its 2023 advance.

The S&P 500 traded above 4,500, notching its third straight week of gains — the longest run since July. Piles of derivatives contracts tied to stocks and indexes matured — which typically amplifies instability. Applied Materials Inc. sank on a report it faces a US criminal probe for allegedly violating export restrictions to China.

The dollar saw its worst week in four months amid bets the currency has already peaked, with softer-than-expected economic data reinforcing bets the Fed is done with rate hikes. Ten-year US yields were little changed. Oil climbed, but posted its fourth straight weekly drop on supply pressures.

Following a softer-than-expected inflation report, the Bloomberg US Aggregate index has gained 1.2% this week through Thursday and is up 0.4% for the year. The benchmark, which tracks $25 trillion of investment-grade government and corporate debt, posted a record loss of 13% in 2022 and declined 1.5% the previous year. The index has never slid three straight years.

Other News

Iron-ore billionaire Andrew Forrest’s family office has struck a deal to buy Australian hat maker Akubra Hats Pty Ltd., deepening the Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. founder’s ownership of local apparel labels.

Forrest and his wife Nicola’s investment firm Tattarang Pty Ltd. will acquire the manufacturer of cowboy hats from the fifth generation of the Keir family, they said in a statement Sunday. They didn’t disclose the value of the deal.

It’s Tattarang’s second deal for one of the country’s much-loved outback brands after its 2020 acquisition of R.M. Williams, a maker of leather boots that are worn as widely by bankers as farmers. The two companies will remain distinct operations, according to a spokesman for the firm.

“Tattarang invests to ensure companies like Akubra remain Australian owned,” Forrest said in the statement. “We’re proud to be able to ensure the growth of Australian manufacturing, both protecting and creating new jobs, particularly in our regions.”

Established in Hobart in 1876, Akubra employs about 120 staff at a factory based in Kempsey, on Australia’s east coast.

Like R.M. Williams, the Akubra brand has assumed an iconic status, shifting from function to fashion over generations. Both have roots in rural workwear but have retained ubiquity even in a now-predominantly urban Australia thanks to the national self-image associated with the bush. Popular among politicians when on the circuit, Akubra is also a longtime supplier of hats for the dress uniforms of the country’s armed forces and past Olympic teams.

According to the investment firm, since Tatterang took ownership R.M. Williams has increased headcount by about 60%, or 500 people, and added two new manufacturing lines at its Adelaide workshop.

The earlier acquisition of the bootmaker and its subsequent growth helped persuade the Keir family to part with the brand to the Forrests, Chairman Stephen Keir IV said.

“We thought long and hard about selling the business after five generations of family ownership,” Keir said. “After we saw how the Forrests have invested in local manufacturing with R.M. Williams we decided they were the right custodians for Akubra.”