January 2021 Insights

Happy New Year! As 2021 gets underway, we hope you and your families enjoy a safe, happy and prosperous year ahead. While we are not out of the woods yet, there is cause for optimism.

December was a busy month on the economic calendar. Global equity markets surged on optimism about the imminent rollout of several promising coronavirus vaccines and the prospect of another US stimulus package. And in a pre-Christmas miracle, the UK signed a last minute, post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union.

In Australia, the government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) projected a $197.7 billion budget deficit this financial year, down from the $213.7 billion forecast in the October Budget, as our economy recovers quicker than expected from the COVID-19 recession. Growth rebounded 3% in the September quarter, on continued support from low interest rates and government stimulus. Unemployment fell from 7% in October to 6.8% in November, which no doubt helped push consumer sentiment to a decade high in December.

Consumer confidence was also evident in the market for new detached homes, with sales up 15.2% in November, a decade high. High demand lifted residential property values 3% on average in 2020, with Melbourne the only market with falling prices. Regional prices (up 6.9%) outshone capital cities (up 2%). We also splurged on cars, with new car sales up 12.4% in the year to November and used cars sales up almost 30% in 2020. The Aussie dollar stood at US77c on New Year’s Eve, up 10% over the year.

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