October 2021 Insights

It’s October and with grand finals season over, the countdown to summer begins. Despite ongoing lockdowns, rising vaccination rates are paving the way for the re-opening of borders and business.

September was a mixed bag on the economic front. After reaching record highs in August, global sharemarkets stumbled in late September. There are concerns about rising inflation and bond yields if the US Federal Reserve begins tapering their bond purchases later this year as expected. Markets also grappled with rising COVID cases, the potential collapse of the Chinese property developer Evergrande, supply chain blocks and rising oil prices. The US S&P500 and the Australian ASX200 finished the month down 5% and 3% respectively.

In Australia, consumer confidence is growing in response to State and Federal governments revealing their re-opening plans. The ANZ/Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating rose over the last three weeks of September to a 10-week high of 103.7. Prior to that, retail trade fell 1.7% in August and 0.7% over the year. And while the unemployment rate fell from 4.6% to 4.5% in August, participation and hours worked all fell. This reflects the large numbers of Australians who have been stood down due to COVID but not actively seeking work.

On commodity markets, oil prices surged almost 10% to three-year highs in September. That pushed up local petrol prices, with unleaded petrol at record highs in some cities. Meanwhile, iron ore prices fell 25% in September on falling Chinese demand. This put downward pressure on Australian mining shares and the Aussie dollar, which fell by one cent to finish the month at US72.2c.

 

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