New Overnight Developments Abroad: Obama Won But Dems Fell Short of 60 Senate Seats

November 5, 2008

President-Elect Obama captured 53% of of the popular vote and won the electoral college count by a big margin of 349-159. The new Senate has 54 confirmed Democrats, 40 Republicans, 2 independents and 4 seats still to be decided. Sixty senate votes are needed to stop a filibuster. Democrats won 22 more seats in the house and will command a 236-199 majority. Democrats also picked up one state governor and lead in that category by 29 to 21.

Exit polls showed U.S. voters most concerned about the economy. Obama’s top economic advisors are likely to be identified relatively soon.

The dollar and yen are higher. The yen rose 0.8% against the U.S. currency, which otherwise shows gains of 0.7% against the euro and Australian dollar, 0.5% against the Canadian dollar, 0.4% against the Swiss franc and 0.2% versus sterling.

Asian stocks mostly rose. The Nikkei jumped another 4.5%. Stocks gained 3.9% in China, 3.2% in Hong Kong, 2.1% in Singapore and 4.5% in Vietnam, but they fell 4.8% in India. Equities are lower in Europe: German Dax -1.5%, Paris Cac -2.4%, and British Ftse -2.2%.

Oil lost 3.1% to $68.31/barrel, and gold edged 0.3% lower to $755.00/ounce.

The yield on 10-year JGB’s increased 3.5 basis points to 1.54%, but European sovereign debt yields are lower.

Euroland’s October PMI reading for services was revised downward to 45.8 from a flash estimate of 46.9, 48.4 in September and 55.8 in October 2007. Germany’s index of 48.3 was the lowest score since July 2003. Italy’s 45.7 reading was almost 2 points less than expected and down from 49.4 in September. France had a 47.5 reading, matching July’s record low. Spain’s index sank to a series low of 32.2 from 36.1 in September and 52.5. Ireland’s 36.1 also represented a series low. The composite Euroland PMI (services and manufacturing) clocked in at 43.6, revised from a flash estimate of 44.6 and down from 46.9 in September. Readings below 50 imply contracting activity.

Retail sales in the euro area slid 0.2% in September, marginally less than assumed, and fell 1.6% from a year before. Retail sales volume in 3Q rose 0.2% saar.

Japan’s monetary base accelerated to on-year growth of 1.4% in October from 0.9% in September and -0.2% in August. BOJ Governor Shirakawa said weak growth remains the central bank’s main worry but again warned against the risks that very low interest rates can distort market functionality.

British industrial production slid 0.2% in September, led by a 0.8% drop in factory output, which posted its seventh straight drop. Factory output had not recorded so many consecutive decreases since 1980. Industrial output fell 1.1% in 3Q from 2Q and by 1.9% from 3Q07. The U.K. service-sector PMI fell 3.6 points to 42.4 in October, lowest in this statistical series dating back to mid-1996. Consumer confidence, according to the Nationwide monthly gauge, improved to 55 in October from a series low of 51 in September. British shop prices, according to the BRC, decelerated to an on-year advance of 3.0% in October from 3.6% in September and a series high of 3.8% in August.

Business sentiment in South Africa posted its biggest one-month deterioration in 18 years, dropping from 89.9 in September to 84.2 in October.

Australia‘s government has sharply cut forecasts for growth and the budget surplus. Australia’s trade surplus of A$ 1.460 bn in September was more than twice as large as expected. A leading index for employment growth fell in November, and house approvals slumped 7.2% in September.

The Swiss government boosted depositor insurance by more than threefold to Chf 100K.

Germany’s largest trade union, I.G. Metall, representing engineering workers, is threatening to begin general national strikes on November 17th.


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