What grabbed the headlines last week?


US jobs still hot, but EU inflation eases

The US jobs market just refuses to loosen up.

First-time claims for weekly jobless benefits edged lower from 195,000 to 192,000, below the consensus of 200,000.  Continuing claims decreased from 1.691 million to 1.654 million, also well below the 1.70 million estimate.

As a result, economists believe wages in the US won’t be easing anytime soon as the claims remain below the pre-pandemic average of ~220,000.

The Fed could now deliver more rate hikes on top of the 25bp already priced in, and the odds of a recession have suddenly surged.

In Europe, inflation eased slightly to 8.5% in the month of February, even as the ECB signalled that it would still be hiking rates.

ECB president Christine Lagarde said rate increases may need to persist beyond the planned 50b move.

“At this point in time, it’s possible that we continue on that path,” she said. “By which amount in each and every meeting is impossible to say at this point.”

“What’s very certain is that we’ll do whatever’s needed in order to bring inflation back to 2%,” Lagarde added.


Share buybacks and record dividends again

Earnings season on Wall Street has seen the surge in share buybacks, while on the ASX dividend payouts have matched 2022 records.

Share-repurchase announcements in the US have more than tripled during the first month of 2023 to US$132 billion, driven mostly by oil companies. Chevron alone accounted for over 50% of that total with US$75 billion.

On the ASX, leading broker Bell Potter says $1.4 billion will be paid to investors this week, as part of a $36.3 billion total paid by ASX corporates this earnings season.

The top 5 dividend payers are BHP Group, Woodside Energy, Comm Bank, Fortescue, and Rio Tinto, which make up 67% of the top 20 payouts.

“What is amazing is that despite the markets in turmoil late last year and the big cuts in some resource stocks dividends, we have matched last year’s record again this year,” Bell Potter’s Richard Coppleson told the AFR.


China’s recovery

Regionally, China’s Caixin services PMI rose more than expected in February, suggesting an economic recovery in the country is gathering steam.

The data came as China’s services sector expanded at the fastest pace in six months following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

The recovery transition is clearly going well for China, and this is the latest survey that backs up that belief.

But experts say we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.

“There’s naturally still a long way to go, and the scale of the recovery may depend on how much economic and monetary support is on offer over the coming months,” said Oanda senior analyst, Craig Erlam.


The Economic Calendar
Monday March 6 – Friday March 10

All sources from Commsec and Investing.com

Australia and New Zealand

In Australia, the main headline this week will be the RBA’s monetary policy decision on Tuesday.

Melbourne Institute inflation gauge

RBA interest rates decision
AU international trade
AU detailed retail trade
AU weekly consumer confidence

RBA Governor Lowe speech

AU building approvals

NZ business PMI



US factory orders
EU retail sales
China FX reserves

US Federal Reserve Chair Powell speech
US Consumer credit
US IBD/TIPP economic optimism index
China international trade

US ADP employment change
US international trade balance
US JOLTs job openings
ECB president Lagarde speaks

US Challenger job cuts
China consumer and producer prices

US non-farm payrolls
US monthly budget statement


The ASX IPO calendar for this week

Dates are from the ASX, and they could change at short or without notice.



Listing: 9 March

IPO: $25m at $0.20

The gas company is focussed on the exploration and delineation of hydrocarbon resources at its flagship project, Project Cosmos, in southwest Queensland which is in the under-explored region of the Surat, Eromanga and Adavale basins.

Following its listing on the ASX, NTH will focus on undertaking systematic exploration aimed at increasing the confidence and scale of the existing prospective resource estimated by an independent technical expert at approximately 1,150 (bcf) and 209 (bcf) within the ATP1072 and ATP1098 tenements, respectively. 

The company also plans to undertake pilot production testing to further delineate the reservoir characteristics.


Listing: 10 March

IPO: $7m at $0.20

Evergreen’s flagship Bynoe lithium project is adjacent to Core Lithium (ASX:CXO) and its producing Finniss mine in the Northern Territory.

To date the company has completed an Ambient Noise Topography (ANT) Survey and commenced field mapping and stage 2 soil, rock chip and termite mound sampling at the Bynoe project and says the soil sampling has confirmed its view of strong anomalous lithium in soil anomalies along strike from Finniss.

The company has also completed a comprehensive auger program, drilling 1,731 holes at the Kenny lithium project, with results expected shortly after listing.

EG1 also holds the Fortune project – also in the NT.