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Oil softens in a mixed start for markets ahead of central bank decisions

crude oil

crude oil

US index futures, meanwhile, are trading flat to down slightly this morning essentially pausing near Friday’s highs. This suggests stocks have paused to digest recent gains, and also indicates a reluctance among traders to press too far ahead before Wednesday’s Fed decision on interest rates and economic projections.

Crude oil has dropped back this morning with both WTI and Brent falling about 1.3%. Comments from Iran over the weekend that it still intends to ramp its production level back up to the 4 mmbbl/d it was at before sanctions were imposed from about 3 mmbbl/d currently. Even though this should not have come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention and is not unreasonable, it appears the rumoured meeting among oil producers to try and stabilize production may be pushed off to April. Oil markets had been getting technically overbought so Iran appears to have been the excuse for a needed correction. Still with Brent hanging around $40.00 and WTI trading well above $35.00 the underlying recovery trend and Friday’s comments from the IEA about oil having turned the corner remain intact.

Currency trading today finds USD on the rebound, clawing back some of last week’s losses. The greenback is rising moderately against all the other majors with gains of 0.1%-0.4%. GBP is a bit stronger than EUR while CAD is not down as much as RUB or NOK but overall, it appears to be a consolidation day for currencies. Gold has stabilized near $1,250 after falling Friday.

The focus of traders for the next several days is likely to fall firmly on central banks with decisions due this week from the Bank of Japan tonight, the Fed on Wednesday and the Bank of England on Thursday. These decisions should give a better idea if recent dovish moves from the ECB and RBNZ were the start of a new wave of stimulus or the last gasp of the last wave and may have a significant impact on trader confidence and market action.

Corporate News

Starwood Hotels     has received a $76.00 unsolicited takeover offer from a group of companies which is higher than the $63.75 current value of the friendly deal it made with Marriott.  

Economic News

Significant announcements released overnight include:

Eurozone industrial production    2.8% vs street 1.6%

Japan machine orders        8.4% vs street (3.8%)
NZ service PMI            56.9 vs street 55.4

Upcoming significant announcements include:

8:30 am EST        Canada Teanet/National Bank house prices    previous 5.9%

8:00 pm EST        Bank of Japan interest rate and QE        no changes expected

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