Commodities drag Aussie higher. Lots of stories this morning about the rising Aussie dollar as it jumped above 73 US cents and then went higher to levels not seen since last August. A weakening greenback has helped, but so have the solid fourth-quarter and 2015 growth figures on Wednesday, as they have ended "rate cut looms" as a headline for the rest of this year, unless the world suddenly comes to an end as China or the US slide (the latter is now looking less likely, but wait until after tonight’s February jobs data to be really sure). But there’s another reason -- as oil and gas prices plunged last December and earlier this year, they dragged down the prices of other commodities -- but not gold, silver and iron ore, all of which have risen strongly (even if iron ore fell 2.5% overnight to just over US$51.30 a tonne overnight, it is still up 34% from the late December low of US$38.30 a tonne). But gold hit a year high overnight and is up 17% this year alone; silver is up nearly 16%. Other commodities have started rising: copper, after hitting a low of US$1.94 a pound in New York, hit US$2.20 a pound, up more than 13% in less than two months and at the highest level since last November. The prices of tin, lead, zinc and even nickel have also risen by 5% to 10% since mid-January. -- Glenn Dyer

Brazil, Macau go backwards. Macau’s GDP shrunk by 14.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to the final quarter of 2014, as the slide in casino gambling hit hard. It was the sixth consecutive quarter of contraction, but is also the best quarter in more than a year; Macau’s economic growth for the first three quarters of 2015 was -21.9%, -23.7% and -21.0%. For the whole year of 2015, GDP contracted by 20.3%. Blame the anti-corruption crackdown in China by President Xi. In Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff can (but won’t) take much of the blame for a smaller but more damaging contraction in South America’s biggest economy. Data out overnight confirmed that the country’s economy got smaller in 2015, shrinking by 5.9% in the final quarter (compared with a year earlier) and 3.8% over all of 2015 in the worst economic growth figures since records started 25 years ago. It was only 2010 when Brazil grew 7.6% and the country was one of the pin-up economies beloved by economists and groups like Goldman Sachs, the World Bank and the IMF as one of the so-called BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The Rio Olympic Games will be a flop, thanks to the Zika mosquito problem. -- Glenn Dyer