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Fed holds rates, extends support

Fed holds rates, extends support

The US Federal Reserve maintained interest rates at current levels at its meeting overnight. The central bank extended its liquidity support program until March 2021, sending the dollar lower and spurring a share market rally. After the meeting Fed chair Jerome Powell expressed concern about the impact of rising infection rates, and called on the government to provide further fiscal support.

The next 24 hours will be crucial to the outlook for markets. The economic calendar is full, kicking off with Japan retail sales this morning and culminating in US GDP tonight. New Zealand business confidence, Australia building approvals and Singapore lending data all drop around mid-session, ahead of German inflation and GDP tonight.

The US company reporting season passed the 40% mark overnight, with 206 of the US SPX 500 company reports tabled. More than 80% of companies have delivered above estimate. Overall sales are running 2% ahead of forecasts, and profits 15% ahead. However this represents a 10% decline in sales for the quarter, and a 15% fall in profits.

Four US tech giants will report Q2 earnings tonight against the backdrop of a Congressional ant-trust hearing on their market dominance. Facebook (Earnings Per Share forecast $1.37), Apple (EPS f/c $2.02), Amazon (EPS f/c $1.34) and Alphabet (EPS f/c $8.05) are under pressure to deliver on their strong recent share price performance. These stocks have driven the rise in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices, and any missteps will have implications for the broader market.

Crude oil prices edged higher overnight after weekly data showed a 10.6 million barrel; decline in inventories. Enthusiasm was contained by the fact that this is largely due to a further decline in imports, and an increase in petroleum and other distillate stockpiles.

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