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One foot forward

Small opening gains for Asia Pacific markets are expected as local investors respond to better than expected employment numbers from the US. Australian traders will wrestle with a mixed commodity outlook, but a slew of data due this week, and a Fed interest rate decision, may see a subdued start to trading today.

Universal consensus around a US rate hike at 5 am Thursday Australian east coast time was reinforced by the consensus busting report of 235,000 new jobs in February. This surprise suggests further acceleration in economic growth. Shares moved higher and industrial commodities rose, with the disappointing exception of oil. Despite confirmation of the stronger US economy profit takers drove the USD down, and the EUR continued to rise as currency markets contemplate an end to ECB stimulus.

The week ahead is packed with potentially market defining releases. China industrial production, Euro CPI and US CPI and PPI will drop as well as the Bank of Japan’s interest rate decision. Australian investors will chew on employment numbers, and the British parliament will vote on a number of important Brexit bills.

However, the key to market performance this week is the response to the US lift in rates. Such a well-flagged and expected move is unlikely to disrupt the current optimism, even if the Fed takes the opportunity to re-iterate a steeper tightening path.

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