Macro Matters July 2023

(Source: Merlea Macro Matters)


Bond yields rose in many countries, including in the US. US equities posted substantial gains as stress in regional banks eased. A relatively small cohort of technology stocks powered the US stock market rally despite rising yields, helped by excitement over artificial intelligence. Japanese equities also had a strong showing, fuelled by optimism over the economy as well as very supportive monetary policy from the Bank of Japan. Canadian and European stocks posted relatively modest gains for the quarter, while Chinese markets lagged on disappointment over the strength of the re-opening.

There’s little reason to believe that the outlook has meaningfully improved, but downside risks around the sluggish growth trajectory that remains our strongly held base case have clearly diminished. In fact, the risk of an imminent hard landing is lower today than it was three months ago. The key variable in developed economies is the labour market. Employment growth remains strong, unemployment remains low and wage growth has kept pace with inflation in most major economies—with the UK being a notable exception.

This has allowed households to manage their way through challenging times and smoothed out the bumps in the business cycle. We still expect growth to slow in time—rate hikes are already weighing on activity in many sectors, and households have begun to deplete savings cushions accumulated during the pandemic. Whether or not this eventually leads to a recession is a close call.

If they fail to bring inflation under control, it could result in a destabilizing period of spiralling prices. Higher and less predictable inflation would squeeze families and businesses and make it harder to plan.

Sticky inflation implies that central bankers are likely to raise rates farther than expected and to keep policy rates in restrictive territory for a while. Higher for longer is the new policy regime, and it played out in the second quarter.

Central banks in several countries, notably here in Australia and Canada, were forced to resume rate hikes after signalling an end to tightening with the expectation that inflation risks had faded. The Fed and the European Central Bank (ECB) have both indicated that the terminal rate is likely to be higher than they expected. Moreover, the Bank of England (BoE) faced renewed acceleration in inflation, resulting in a much higher rate profile than initially thought.

Higher-than-expected rate peaks may be front of mind today, but we believe the more important variable over time will be how long rates stay elevated. Given the resilience of labour markets and, thus, the economy, the risk to the global economy is the possibility that rates could stay high for several quarters to come.


Stubborn inflation keeping US and European officials in tightening mode is likely to further decouple global monetary policy in coming months as the rest of the world forges its own path. Government bond yields are on the rise again, although there was some divergence, with the UK and Australia underperforming due to higher-than-expected inflation and a greater resolve by central banks to combat inflation. Apart from the BoJ, all major central banks kept raising interest rates over the quarter. However, the Fed was the first to pause in June, leaving rates at 5% to 5.25% after more than a year of consecutive rate increases.


Global bonds slumped after two shock interest-rate hikes in June were a reality check that central banks are far from done fighting inflation. Shorter-maturity Treasury yields are close to their highest since March, while their Australian equivalents have jumped to levels last seen more than a decade ago. Investors are back selling sovereign debt after the Bank of Canada joined the Reserve Bank of Australia in surprising markets with more rate hikes to combat stubbornly fast consumer-price gains.

Tightening financial conditions is a key theme I have been concerned about for some time is US and Global M2 money supply growth which has fallen at the fastest pace in decades, and as the US Treasury and Fed continue to withdraw liquidity from the bond markets at one of the fastest paces in history.

US bond yields are rising – not falling – which runs counter to what the consensus is looking for as financial conditions tighten. We have also been concerned about the impact of higher bond yields on stock market valuation and have raised the divergence on many occasions in recent months. At some point, either real yields need to decline, or the stock market is headed for a reset. I am very much in the latter camp, with the view that real rates are going even higher over the medium to long-term which poses a particular headwind for the now expensive growth sector.

Government bond valuations look increasingly attractive. U.S., UK and German bonds offer reasonable value. Japanese bonds, however, are still expensive with the Bank of Japan holding to the 50-basis point yield limit. It is likely that the U.S. yield curve can steepen in coming months. The spread between 2-year and 10-year bond yields is close to an extreme.

Australian economists expect a longer delay between the peak in the Reserve Bank of Australia’s cash rate and the first interest rate cut, citing sticky inflation in the services industry and a red-hot labour market. Underlying inflation pressures, particularly in services, are still too strong, and the labour market is too tight to be consistent with the RBA’s inflation target, so more hikes are needed with upside risk to a terminal rate forecast of 4.6 per cent. We wouldn’t expect the central bank to start cutting rates until November 2024.

Listed Property

The property market is entering a new playing field with higher inflation, higher interest rates, and lower growth. The recent CPI data showed a 6.8% y-o-y, stubbornly higher than the market anticipated. This combined with the 5.75% increase in award wages, at a time when productivity growth is low, has led many market participants to now expect cash rates to remain higher for longer. Quarterly company updates have underscored the operational resilience of the sector, with the following being reported – most A-REITs maintained their earnings guidance. Goodman Group (ASX: GMG) upgraded earnings and Vicinity Group (ASX: VCX) lifted its earnings guidance to the top end of the range, whilst Mirvac Group (ASX: MGR) lowered guidance by 5%.

Retail sales growth remained healthy at 15% above 2019 despite rising cost of living pressures.

Office occupancy is holding up better than expected with average occupancy at 93%, whilst REITs with higher quality assets reported a modest decline in incentives. This further reinforces the flight to quality as tenants reassess their office requirements post COVID.

Industrial markets continue to benefit from low vacancies (<1%) resulting in rental growth of +22%. Residential REITs reported a slowdown in settlements from the peaks of 2022, but prices are holding up with medium- and long-term demand supported by strong population growth and a lack of supply.

Valuations across REIT markets are now at multi-year lows, trading at considerable discounts to fair value. This provides a degree of support for prices should economic conditions worsen or allow for some price appreciation when we begin to see a resumption of asset transactions.

The future growth in value of such assets is typically secured by leases and operating agreements. Real assets also provide a hedge against inflation. Analysis shows that infrastructure, real estate and healthcare have outperformed financial assets during periods of high inflation over the past 20 years. In some cases, the mechanism for this is very direct, with income linked to inflation by explicit clauses within leases.

Markets are mispricing a discount to net tangible assets compared to the values of the underlying real estate.  While values are adjusting, history has shown that the listed AREIT market tends to under-sell and oversell compared to the unlisted market because it is more sensitive to both interest rate movements and equity market. volatility. Typically, when a wide discount gap closes, it is more due to listed pricing increasing than unlisted pricing easing.

We believe that the REIT sector positioning at present marks a bottom. Now is not the time to capitulate and sell. In fact, when the rate cycle peaks, we expect the REIT sector to outperform in similar fashion to the past.

Australian Equities

The Australian economy entered 2023 relatively strongly, however the first quarter of year has seen output growth slow considerably as higher interest rates and inflation start to bite. Consumption is ~50-60% of the economy and in Q4, 2022, this hit stall speed, alarmed the RBA, and was a key reason why they pivoted ‘dovish’ (at least momentarily) at their last meeting.  Still, consumers have been showing signs of life. Retail sales increased by a larger than expected 0.7% month-over-month (m/m) in May and June consumer confidence ticked higher. But the confidence level is materially weaker and well off its peak in 2021. Business confidence moved lower in May.

The weakness in consumer confidence contrasts the tight labour market and wage growth that is edging higher. 76,000 jobs were added in May and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% even as the participation rate ticked higher. However, job vacancies have stabilized at high levels, suggesting that labour demand may start to soften.

The housing market is showing early signs of turning despite expectations for further rate hikes. House prices have historically only started to increase when the central bank cuts rates. However, house prices have risen month on month for the past three months and are only 6% from the recent peak.

Source: J.P. Morgan fact sheet and Australian Bureau of statistics

 With population growth running at 0.5 percent for the quarter, per capita GDP growth recorded a negative outcome at -0.2 percent – the first time this has occurred, excluding the period of the COVID pandemic, since 2018. More concerningly is the continued decline in productivity, which has seen the annual change in real GDP per hour worked fall for the past four quarters – and at an increasing pace. Conversely real unit labour costs have risen to 1.1 percent annual growth.

This situation of falling productivity and rising wages is worrying. How much of this reflects a timing difference between businesses gearing up with new staff and new plant and equipment (which is running at a rolling four-quarter annual growth rate of 5.4 percent), and how much of this reflects a structural challenge in the economy is difficult to disentangle.

A financial year is a long time in the world of share market prices, with the ASX turning around its fortunes in the most recent 2022-23 financial year to post a 9.7% benchmark jump. Last year, by contrast, was a tumultuous year for equities, with the ASX200 dropping some 10.2% in 2021-22—a trend that was repeated globally as well as locally.

But there is still plenty of volatility in markets and we advise investors that there is still a need to be cautious with the lag effect of rate hikes expected to have a meaningful impact on household consumption through 2023. The most common prediction for a market turnaround was in first half of next year, at 22% of those institutions surveyed. The Bloomberg survey also revealed that financial services, tech, and real estate were high on the priority list for the remainder of 2023, while discretionary consumer goods and communications were among the least appealing sectors.

Global markets

The combination of faltering economic growth and central banks still focused on above-target inflation will remain a challenging backdrop for most risky assets. The recession now taking hold across advanced economies means some short-term pain is in store: risk assets, such as equities, will not turn the corner decisively until the economic outlook in the US brightens, even if safe asset yields fall a bit further in the interim.

Poor investor sentiment and elevated cash levels will ensure a relatively short-lived pullback in asset prices, so it’s important to remain nimble. Our tactical position retains higher cash but remains near fully invested given our view that the inflection point for risk assets will be difficult to time.


The optimism seen in equity markets around the transformative opportunities that artificial intelligence (AI) applications might present, which we highlighted last month’s discussion paper, continued through to the end of the first half of 2023, resulting in historically strong cumulative total returns over comparable six month periods. The outlook for corporate earnings, which we expect to remain under pressure from falling margins in the coming months.

Policymakers meet this month for the first time since June’s “pause” that followed an unprecedented period when the Fed raised a key benchmark rate from near-zero to a range of 5% to 5.25% in a 10-meeting span. Traders expect, with about 85% probability, that central bankers will raise rates at the forthcoming meeting — but potential surprises in economic reports could dictate next steps thereafter. That’s why the Fed remains very much “a focal point” in July.  Heading into the Fed’s meeting, scheduled for July 25 and 26, the market’s focus will largely be on economic reports that reveal the strength of the labour market and the pace of inflation. That said, this month also marks the start of the multi-week period known as earnings season, when publicly traded companies release results for the most-recent quarter.

While the market’s gains in the first half of the year may make everyday investors more optimistic, various firms across Wall Street tempered some of that enthusiasm in their market outlooks for the second half.

We recommend portfolio strategies that continue to play defence both in stocks and bonds. Investors may want to focus on locking in rates more than 4% in bonds or other fixed income assets, while focusing on large-cap, high-quality companies within the stock market.

If there’s market more market volatility in the second half of the year, as we expect, this may create investment opportunities to position for a potential economic recovery in 2024. Those opportunities will probably be accompanied by headlines that things are headed for the worst.


European equity investors should be cautiously positioned in the months ahead as the squeeze from higher rates intensifies. The European economy has been resilient to date, but the probability of this still ongoing fast-paced series of rate hikes ending in any scenario other than a marked slowdown seems low. The recent loss of momentum in the previously buoyant services sector suggests the ECB’s monetary medicine may be taking effect.

Nevertheless, with European earnings outpacing other developed markets, the US stock market’s dependence on a narrow band of names for leadership, and European equities remaining cheap on both a historic basis and relative to US equities, there is a credible argument to be made that Europe is better placed to ride out the next few quarters as the cycle likely worsens. Despite this generally benign scene, we continue to believe that caution should prevail.

United Kingdom

Britain’s economy made a lacklustre start to 2023 as inflation ate into households’ disposable income, official figures showed, and economists see a risk of recession ahead as higher interest rates keep up the pain even as inflation eases.

The economy grew by just 0.1% in the first three months of the year, unchanged from an initial estimate by the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) and leaving output 0.5% lower than it was in the final quarter of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Households are digging into their savings -as the cost of living increased faster than incomes. Although the overall saving ratio remained higher than before the pandemic.

The squeeze on households looks set to continue, as the Bank of England raised interest rates to a 15-year high of 5% in June and investors see little sign that it is about to end its tightening cycle.

The final Q1 2023 GDP data confirms that the economy steered clear of a recession at the start of 2023. But with around 60% of the drag from higher interest rates yet to be felt, we still think the economy will tip into one in the second half of this year.

While the BoE forecast last month that inflation would drop to just over 5% by the end of the year, BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said that inflation was proving stickier than expected after it held at 8.7% in May. Britain’s economic recovery since the pandemic has been much slower than almost every other advanced economy. In annual terms, Britain’s economy had grown just 0.2% by the end of the first quarter. The weak GDP data is at odds with more robust trends for jobs, wages and consumer confidence, and further sluggish growth was more likely than outright recession. We expect unemployment to inch up, but only slowly and to a limited degree.


Japanese business sentiment improved in the second quarter as raw material costs peaked and removal of pandemic curbs lifted consumption, a sign the economy was on course for a steady recovery. Companies expect to increase capital expenditure and project inflation to stay above the Bank of Japan’s 2% target five years ahead, the quarterly “tankan” showed, offering policymakers hope that conditions for phasing out their massive monetary stimulus may be gradually falling into place.

There is a view that yield curve control is increasing exchange rate volatility, and it’s possible that it will be abandoned as early as July, the idea of revising BOJ’s yield curve control approach has also surfaced within the central bank. A summary of the opinions released on Monday from a June 15-16 monetary policy meeting included the idea that “a revision to the treatment of yield curve control should be discussed at an early stage.”

There are also external factors boosting optimism about Japan. Global companies are now diversifying supply chains away from China, and Chen said Japan could benefit as one of the destinations to re-shore supply chains, “particularly in the very high end, more technologically dense sectors like semiconductors.”

In less positive news, the growth figures gained a flattering boost from swelling inventories that point to demand not keeping up with production, a cause for concern going ahead.

Consumer spending also proved a touch softer than first estimated. Japan’s real economic output is still below levels seen at the end of the third quarter of 2019, just before Japan raised its sales tax. Private consumption and corporate spending also remained weak. A slowdown in global growth could also still drag on Japan’s recovery, as data from China shows a petering out of momentum.

Going forward, the interplay of inflation and wages holds the key to whether the current recovery will be sustainable and if the BOJ will change its ultraloose policy. April data showed wages picked up less than forecast and continued to fall after adjusting for inflation, meaning that higher prices may start to weigh on consumption.

That impact may already be emerging, given household spending in April also declined more than expected from the previous year. Economists expect the economy to continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace, in the second quarter. The latest figures showed Japan avoided a technical recession at the end of 2022, but it continues to alternate between growth and contraction.


As central bankers in the Western world fret over their long and complex battle against sticky inflation, policymakers in China are facing a very different problem: a complete lack of inflation, and a clear and present risk of disinflation. Official showed the nation’s consumer price index was unchanged in June from the prior year, below expectations for a headline annual inflation rate of 0.2 per cent, as was recorded in May.

The data adds to a growing body of evidence that China’s post-COVID-19 recovery has badly stalled, with consumers keeping their wallets shut amid concerns about economic growth and asset prices, particularly in the beleaguered property sector. The value of new home sales by the 100 biggest real estate developers in China crashed 28.1 per cent in June, compared with a year earlier, according to preliminary data.

While Chinese officials have been saying all the right things – Premier Li Qiang recently talked to Chinese economists about the need for potential stimulatory measures – real action has been largely limited to interest rate cuts that have had little impact due to the simple fact rates are already very low.

Historically, policymakers have focused on real estate development and infrastructure projects, which have long been central to the country’s previously breakneck growth. But after years of cracking down on excess leverage at Chinese property groups, Beijing is wary of the kind of large-scale stimulus that could cause developers’ debt loads to balloon again.

As a result, China has cut rates enough to help stave off a downturn but remains reluctant to deliver the wider support to help turn things round in the way investors anticipated at the start of 2023.The economic recovery fell short of expectations as people underestimated the negative feedback loop of the property sector meltdown, underestimated the lack of confidence due to the deteriorating external geopolitical environment and overestimated the rebound from post-pandemic revenge spending,

Chinese stocks are expected to see modest gains in the second half as investors grapple with just how far policy stimulus will go in turning around a faltering economy, it is key to be selective because there are pockets that have run beyond fundamentals and areas that are lagging despite a positive outlook.

The case for a recovery in consumption is still playing out, albeit slower than the market’s initial and arguably unrealistic expectation of a V-shaped bounce-back, and I would see the recent weakness as an opportunity.

Emerging markets

A major economic and political shift to a multipolar world is underway. With continued disruption to supply chains worldwide, the idea of bringing global supply chains closer to home has more merit than ever. Nearshoring is the policy of expanding or outsourcing services to countries that are close to the home country of a company.  When companies consider expansion, key parts of the process like manufacturing are often sent abroad. Nearshoring offers the advantages of global market expansion, with the added bonuses of more efficient transportation and less potential for problems.  That trend will create corporate and national winners and losers, while likely reducing efficiencies and perhaps adding to inflationary pressures globally.

If global supply chains and investments do fragment, emerging markets will fall into three broad groups. The first includes highly industrialised economies such as South Korea which are important to global technology supply chains. A second group of natural resource exporters, including Saudi Arabia, may try to remain non-aligned and focus on long-term development and maintaining stable prices. The third group will include countries which are already gravitating toward a specific bloc but looking for stronger inducements, such as India and ASEAN countries.

Many emerging markets are ‘non-aligned’ and may continue to trade pragmatically with all geopolitical blocs. We see five emerging economies as potential winners: India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, and Poland. Only India offers an investment case as a standalone equity allocation in our clients’ portfolios.

Despite the potential challenges of a slowing global economy, we remain optimistic about the outlook for emerging markets, particularly in Asia. China’s reopening rally undershot first half hopes, but valuations remain attractive, and we see green shoots across specific areas. India and Indonesia offer especially attractive medium- and long-term growth prospects. We anticipate that regional growth will continue into 2024, driven by a decline in real interest rates to propel further domestic demand recovery, which we expect will fuel Asian growth outperformance relative to developed markets.

EM countries and the companies within them have historically funded their growth with USD debt. Hence, a weaker U.S. dollar would likely shrink balance sheets, reduce net interest expenses, and lead to positive earnings revisions, also there is an inverse relationship between the USD and commodity prices, which benefits various EM exporters.

Finally, it’s also important to note that the pause in Fed hikes could lead to higher risk appetites from allocators. The pause signals a favourable economic environment, as it suggests a moderation in inflationary pressure. This could boost investor confidence, increase risk appetites, and lead to flows into EM equities.


The ongoing slowdown of the global economy continues to put a downward pressure on commodity markets. Although global inflation has started to moderate, price pressures remain at historically high levels. The combination of high prices and rising borrowing costs constrain consumers and businesses. Subdued consumer spending on goods and services and sluggish manufacturing activity, accompanied by weaker B2B demand and capital investment growth, are set to reduce demand for energy, metal and food commodities, and cap price growth this year. Base metals prices are bottoming out for now, but more stable demand in the coming months could refocus attention on low inventories. This could drive an 11% recovery in the BCOM Industrial Metals sub-index over the balance of the year. We remain bullish across every agriculture commodity as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle — a natural climate phenomenon involving changes in the water temperatures of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean — is expected to affect crop yields.


For now, market consensus points to a mild contraction in the US in late 2023 and slow growth in developed markets. But given the historical lag between monetary policy and economic performance, investors are wary that a hard landing may be still to come. In this context and following gold’s positive returns in H1, we expect gold to remain supported on the back of rangebound bond yields and a weaker dollar. Gold should experience stronger investment demand if economic conditions deteriorate. Conversely, a soft landing or much tighter monetary policy could result in disinvestment.

Gold ended the first half of 2023 at $1,919, falling 2.2% in June but for the first six months of the year adding 5.2%. The general negative downtrend in gold over the month was broken by the short-lived uprising of the Wagner group in Russia as the relatively longer-term issue of higher rates remained a headwind to gold. It is expected that central bank purchases will have provided support to the gold price as they have been seen to buy on price falls in the recent past with specifically emerging markets diversifying reserves away from USD.


Crude oil prices have been on a downward trajectory this year with various fundamental factors influencing the overall trade dynamic. OPEC+ has been at the centre of discussions once more by imposing their sway by recently cutting production to bolster crude oil prices. The actions of OPEC+ highlighted their persistence to support oil prices giving traders an underlying backing that there is a floor as to how low OPEC+ is willing to let prices slide.

In June 2023, OPEC+ members approved production cuts through to the end of 2024 likely stoking a bullish bias for Q3 2023. According to OPEC forecasts, Q3 is expected to pick up slightly for both OECD and Non-OECD regions.

US, Europe and Asia enter their summer period that generally leads to higher crude oil demand as consumption increases. Cooling usage tends to pick up as more energy is required and with lesser supply by OPEC+, higher demand and lesser supply could bolster over oil prices.

Agriculture commodities

The downward trend in food prices for June was primarily led by indexes for vegetable oils, dairy and sugar, while those for cereals and meat remained largely stable. This was also lowest level in over two years, when the food index was pegged at 122.1 in April 2021.

An emergence of El Nino phenomenon could affect global agricultural yields and alter trade flows in the 2023-24 season, according to agricultural bodies, meteorological agencies and trade analysts. In the meantime, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology on June 6 stepped up its probability forecast to “El Nino Alert” from “El Nino Watch”, indicating higher chances of an El Nino forming in late-2023.

Unlike fertilizer prices, food prices remain elevated. They are down 25% from peak levels in the months after the Russian invasion but still near the highs of the past 60 years. We see several reasons for this:

  1. High fertilizer prices last year caused farmers to use less of it, reducing yields.
  2. Farmers have faced other higher costs due to labour shortages and supply chain issues.
  3. Many countries-imposed export controls on their agricultural output after the Russian invasion to protect their food supply.
  4. Weather disruptions have affected harvests.
Sector 12 Month Forecast Economic and Political Predictions
AUD 68c-76c


The U.S. dollar (USD) has trended lower over the past month as investors speculate the Fed is nearing the end of rate hikes. It could weaken further if markets become confident that a recession can be avoided, given the counter-cyclical nature of the dollar.
Gold BUY

$US1700-/oz- $US2100/oz


The relationship between gold prices and the US Dollar is closely intertwined. The expectation of further interest rate hikes typically depresses gold prices, as the US Dollar becomes a safer haven compared to the precious metal. However, as Chair Jerome Powell has indicated a possible slowdown or pause in tightening monetary policy, gold prices could potentially reach new record highs.
Commodities BUY

As China reopens and economic activity increases progressively, we expect evident signs of robust demand for commodities by Q2 2023

Base metals prices are bottoming out for now, but more stable demand in the coming months could refocus attention on low inventories. This could drive an 11% recovery in the BCOM Industrial Metals sub-index over the balance of the year.
Property BUY



REITs should perform well when interest rates fall, given that real estate fundamentals appear reasonably healthy.  Historically, REITs are one of the better-performing sectors during inflationary periods.
Australian Equities BUY


We believe that while Australian growth should continue to slow this year, the recession risk is lower than in the Northern Hemisphere. While the coming year certainly won’t be without its challenges, we are tipping a modest gain for the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index in 2023 of 4-7 per cent to near 7,350-7,550 points.
Bonds Begin to increase duration.




Long-term valuations are attractive, in our assessment, fully reflecting monetary policy that is still expected to tighten a little further. Decelerating growth and tighter bank lending standards complement this view.
Cash Rates Two further cash rate hikes this year, bringing the rate to a peak of 4.60%. Cash has appeal as a means of diversification and as a complement to the potential attractions of fixed income markets, and we maintain a moderately constructive view at this time.



Global Markets
America Underweight


The outlook for US equities is less optimistic as company profit margins may remain under pressure in the coming quarters. The stock market’s attention will likely focus on whether prospective earnings can support current valuations, which remain elevated.






Europe faces headwinds to consumer and business activity as ECB interest-rate rises continue, while the Russia-Ukraine war, which has entered its second year, remains a drag on confidence. Corporate earnings results may disappoint, and geopolitics pose an ongoing threat to regional equities
Japan Accumulate


Corporate earnings continue to exceed consensus expectations, especially in cyclical industries, which supports equity valuations that remain attractive relative to other markets, in our view.
Emerging markets Start Buying


Stronger long-term growth opportunities are being offset by emerging markets’ idiosyncratic risks and highly cyclical nature. Exposure to slowing demand from developed market consumers remains a drag on earnings, but better relative growth is not discounted in valuations, in our view.
China BUY


China signalled more economic support measures are imminent after authorities took a small step toward supporting the ailing property market by extending loan relief for developers.



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