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Risk jitters resume

Fear raised its ugly head in overnight market action. German industrial production numbers started the rout with a surprise December contraction, assisted by a slump in UK house prices. US investors cited concerns about seemingly stagnant trade negotiations between China and the US, despite a week long holiday in China. The Euro fell, shares dropped and bonds rallied.

Commodity markets sent mixed signals. Oil prices shed around 2.5%, a fairly average move for the highly volatile industrial input. However nickels, steel and zinc recorded gains, and iron ore rose through US $90 a tonne. Curiously, gold prices fell despite the risk off tone, although spot silver prices lifted slightly.

The Yen was also out of kilter with the overall action, unmoved despite its safe haven status. The Australian, New Zealand and Singapore dollars held at lower levels.

The pain came despite US reporting passing the 60% mark with solid sales and earnings growth. The dual US /Australian listed News Corporation unveiled a whopping 21% increase in revenue, swinging back into profitability for the quarter. The improvements came across its publishing, cable and streaming services, and the partially owned digital real estate subsidiary REA was a significant contributor, although REA’s headline result was dragged down by write-offs associated with their Asian businesses.

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