G20 commits to major push for growth

Share Markets:  The US stockmarket slipped on Friday night, with US existing home sales data continuing the run of soft US economic data.

The market reaction was limited, however, with the S&P 500 remaining close to the record closing high reached on 15th January. On Friday, the Dow and the S&P 500 fell 0.2% and the Nasdaq was off 0.1% for the session.

Bonds:  US bonds edged higher (bond yields fell slightly) as a tempering of risk appetites saw some investors move into safe haven government bonds.

Australian three-year government bond yields (implied by futures) slipped from 3.05% to 3.02%. The 10-year yield fell from 4.16% to 4.12%.

Foreign Exchange:  The Aussie dollar lost ground against the major currencies on Friday night, with the Aussie dollar weakening against the US dollar from Friday's open to currently trade around 89.80 US cents.

The Euro strengthened against the US dollar, following the release of soft US economic data. Sterling finished the session weaker versus the US dollar unable to shake off weak retail sales data, although it was still stronger versus the Aussie dollar.

Commodities:  The oil price edged lower as warmer US weather weighed on demand. The gold price gained ground, with news China overtook India as the world's largest gold consumer in 2013 supportive for the precious metal.

Australia:  There was no major economic data released in Australia on Friday.

United Kingdom:  UK retail sales volumes fell 1.5% in January, reversing some of December's surprise 2.5% sales jump. Between June and November, retail sales rose only 0.3%, but in the latest two months even with January's fall, sales are up on average about 0.5% per month.

United States:  US existing home sales fell 5.1% in January, the fifth month in six that sales have not increased. December's poor weather, lower affordability and the lack of supply of decent homes for sale were factors at play according to the National Association of Realtors who collate the data. The Jan sales pace of 4.62 million annualised was down 14% on the recent sales peak of 5.38 million annualised, six months earlier, in July 2013.

Global:  Following the G20 meeting in Australia on the weekend, the G20 said it would aim to lift G20 GDP by "more than 2 percent above the trajectory implied by current policies."

The G20's communique acknowledged the concerns of some emerging economies regarding monetary stimulus and tapering, saying "all our central banks maintain their commitment that monetary policy settings will continue to be carefully calibrated and clearly communicated, in the context of ongoing exchange of information and being mindful of impacts on the global economy."

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