A review of things you need to know before you go home on Monday; no rate changes, smoking tax pain, Census mess, FHBs like mortgages, investors not so much, swaps rise, NZD rises, & more

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Here are the key things you need to know before you leave work today.

MORTGAGE RATE CHANGES
No changes to report today.

TERM DEPOSIT RATE CHANGES
None here either.

TAXING SMOKERS HURTS THE POOR
Statistics NZ today said the cost of living rose the most for beneficiary households in the March 2019 quarter. Beneficiaries’ cost of living rose +1.8% pa, compared with +1.4% for all households they said. The key reason is that beneficiaries were hit hardest by the excise tax increase for tobacco products that took effect on 1 January. Cigarettes and tobacco make up 4.1% of all spending for beneficiaries, compared with 2.5% for all households. For Māori households that share is 4.8% of their spending.

FIVE MONTHS TO GO, & THE RESULT WILL BE POOR
Statistics New Zealand has given a September date for the first release of long-delayed information from last year’s Census – but it’s also confirmed that it hasn’t been able to plug the gaps in information in some key subject areas.

FHBs RAISE THEIR EXPOSURE, INVESTORS LOWER THEIRS
In March, new borrowing by first home buyers rose to just a whisker under $1 bln in the month, the highest ever for a March (since this RBNZ series began) and the third highest of any month. It was almost +10% higher than the same month in 2018. The trend is definitely up. In contrast, investors made $1.1 bln in new borrowing in March but that was -20% lower than the same month in 2018 and this trend has been flat since the start of 2017. In March, less than 44% of lending commitments involving investment property was in Auckland and that is the lowest proportion since this data started in October 2016 (the highest Auckland share was over 58% back then at the start, so the decline has been substantial).

INTEREST COSTS ONLY CREEP UP A TINY BIT
In the quarterly update of its full reconciliation of the New Zealand mortgage market, the RBNZ shows that while the amounts on home loans rose overall +5.7% in the year to March 2019, the amount of interest paid rose only +1.7% to $11.9 bln in that 12 months. Over that same period, we drew down $71.7 bln in obligations, made $17.4 bln in scheduled repayments, and made $37.3 bln as payments in full. As at March 2017, we owe $260.8 bln for home loans.

A SOLID LOCAL START
Equity markets have opened in our time zone with the NZX up a solid +0.3%, the ASX down -0.5% and Shanghai down -0.1%. But Hong Kong is up +0.8%.

LOCAL SWAP RATES RISE, FLATTEN
Local swap rates have risen in a flattening bias across the whole curve today. The two year is up +4 bps, the five year is up +3 bps and the ten year is up just +1 bp. The UST 10yr rate is at 2.50%. Their 2-10 curve is little-changed at +21 bps and their negative 1-5 curve now wider at -10 bps. The Aussie Govt 10yr is down again today to 1.79% (unchanged), the China Govt 10yr is also little-changed at 3.42%, while the New Zealand Govt 10yr is still at 1.93%. The 90 day bank bill rate is up +1 bp at 1.79%.

NZ DOLLAR FIRMS FURTHER
The NZ dollar is firmer from this this morning at 66.8 USc. Against the Aussie we are also firmer at 94.7 AUc. We are also firm at 59.9 euro cents. The TWI-5 is now at 71.8.

BITCOIN UNCHANGED
Bitcoin has flat-lined today at US$5,170. Bitcoin is tracked in the chart below.

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Source: CoinDesk

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