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Harbour Outlook: Beating cautious expectations

  • The world is learning to live with COVID-19 and economies are recovering faster than expected, demonstrated by, in aggregate, better-than-expected economic and earnings data in August.
  • With the US Federal Reserve (the Fed) moving to an average inflation target, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) confirming it is on the same page as the Fed and the Reserve Bank of Australia stating it "will maintain highly accommodative settings as long as is required”, central bank policy is likely to stay accommodative for longer.
  • The dovish stance from the RBNZ has led to markets pricing the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at -0.20% in a years’ time.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Sep 8, 2020
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Bond market takes note of RBNZ dovish shift

  • We think the RBNZ reaction function has become more dovish with lower and flatter yield curves the primary goal in the face of persistent health-related downside economic risks.
  • The Bank expanded its QE programme by more-than-expected last week from $60bn to $100bn and said it is prepared to implement a negative OCR alongside direct lending to retail banks at interest rates close to the OCR, if required.
  • Interest rates have fallen in response, but NZ government bonds now look expensive versus their global peers and a sharp rise in breakeven inflation rates suggest that economic risks may lie in both directions.
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Hamish Pepper | Posted on Aug 18, 2020
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Shadow banks shine light on mortgage deferrals

  • Some of New Zealand’s non-bank mortgage lenders have provided detailed data that illustrates they appear well-positioned to weather an increase in non-performing loans when COVID-related loan deferrals expire
  • Our various probes into the big banks indicate no cause for alarm, albeit we expect loss provisioning needs to rise and small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) lending trends need to be monitored
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Simon Pannett | Posted on Aug 13, 2020
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Harbour Outlook: Data supports markets

  • Better-than-expected economic data and company earnings have supported risk sentiment over the past month.
  • Continued progress towards a COVID-19 vaccine, alongside ongoing stimulus, has also added to the positive mood, outweighing concern about ongoing mobility restrictions and second waves of COVID-19 infection.
  • The New Zealand economy continues to benefit from ongoing control of COVID-19, low mobility restrictions and policy support. Fiscal stimulus is likely to wane and ongoing border closure means complete recovery is largely contingent on a vaccine.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Aug 10, 2020
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Are we ‘Thinking Big’ Again?

  • Electrification of industrial and process heat makes sense
  • Pumped storage would be a massive project, but could help achieve the Government’s 100% renewable objective
  • Substantial challenges remain in terms of cost, engineering, and resource consenting
  • Scoping study results unlikely to be published quickly with sector uncertainty to remain in the short term
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Craig Stent | Posted on Jul 27, 2020
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ESG & COVID-19 – Did the long term add value in the short term?

  • Whilst Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies take time to impact investment returns, we present evidence that ESG policies added value in the volatile first half of 2020
  • Companies with better ESG credentials fell by less when the market dropped in the first quarter of 2020 and kept up with the market when it rallied in the second quarter of 2020
  • Companies with lower ESG credentials dropped more in the first quarter, recovered less in the second quarter and underperformed the market over the first half of 2020.
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Shane Solly
Shane Solly | Posted on Jul 22, 2020
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Harbour Market Survey: Cautious optimism

In our inaugural Harbour Market Survey, we asked almost 80 investment consultants, investors, brokers and banks some key market questions. Most respondents felt it was a good time to fix your New Zealand mortgage and that NZDUSD was likely to appreciate over the next three months, but they only marginally favoured adding riskier assets to portfolios – implying some weakening in the recent strong relationship between NZDUSD and risk assets. NZDAUD views were mixed.

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Hamish Pepper | Posted on Jul 16, 2020
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‘Blame it on Rio’

Key Points

  • Rio to leave, another Think Big Project bites the dust
  • Rio Tinto has announced the closure of the New Zealand Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) from August 2021.
  • Short term, the biggest impact on earnings will be felt by Contact Energy and Meridian Energy with stranded generation in the lower half of the South Island.
  • Is it time to move forward and focus on transmission investment and de-carbonisation?
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Craig Stent | Posted on Jul 9, 2020
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Harbour Outlook: Stimulus trumps rise in infections

Key points

  • Equities continued to bounce back with the S&P/NZX 50 Index returning 5.3%, S&P/ASX 200 Index (in AUD) up 2.6% and the MSCI ACWI Index up 3.0%.
  • US employment growth has continued to surprise to the upside, with the improving economic data providing a stark contrast to the worsening COVID case numbers.
  • Global COVID-19 containment measures have eased in aggregate, allowing a partial recovery in economic activity. The average lockdown stringency for the world’s 10 largest economies, based on the Oxford University measure, reduced to 60 from 70 in May (where 100 is equivalent to Alert Level 4 and 0 is no restrictions).
  • In New Zealand, higher frequency economic indicators are showing a sharp recovery in many sectors.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Jul 8, 2020
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Lifting the bonnet: Electric vehicle adoption, or a lack thereof?

Key Points

  • Electric vehicle (EV) adoption, among larger NZX-listed corporates, was assessed through a quantitative and behavioural survey
  • There is low EV penetration in company fleets, on average, with significant dispersion between industry sectors
  • Reputation benefits are ranked as the most important driver of EV transition
  • A lack of suitable EV models is rated as the largest barrier to adoption, even above cost
  • A majority of the companies surveyed had immediate plans to invest in more EVs, however this has likely changed in light of COVID-19
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Jorge Waayman
Jorge Waayman | Posted on Jul 1, 2020