Stocks around the world are off to a strong start this week, with Germany’s Dax index hitting another new all-time high and clearing the 12,000 barrier while France’s CAC continues to hold above 5,000 as traders speculate that the ECB’s new QE program could help to turn around the European economy. The FTSE, however, continues to lag well behind its continental peers ahead of this week’s UK budget and the upcoming election campaign. US stocks are off to a strong start as well, taking back some of the ground they lost last week. US trading may remain choppy, however, through Wednesday afternoon’s FOMC announcement with traders still focused on when the Fed may start to raise interest rates. USD has softened a bit in normal trading enabling other majors to bounce back a bit with NZD and EUR leading the charge. NOK and CAD are the worst performers among majors today as they follow crude oil lower once again. The relentless pressure on crude oil continues today with WTI back under $45.00 and Brent back under $55.00. Following a period of consolidation it appears a new downleg may be getting underway that could see WTI approach the 2008 low into the $35.00 to $40.00 range. Although US drill rig activity has slowed, there are concerns production growth may not slow with producers indicating a focus on their top prospects. Meanwhile, the demand prospects for resources remain iffy. The Hang Seng rallied overnight but the S&P/ASX fell after China’s PM indicated the government could bring in more stimulus to prop up employment. Between this and the recent aggressive easing from the PBOC, one has to wonder if the country will be able to hit its lowered 7% GDP growth target for this year and what that could mean for resource markets. Corporate News There are no major corporate announcements this morning. Economic News Economic reports released overnight and this morning include: US Empire Manufacturing 6.9 vs street 8.0 US industrial production 0.1% vs street 0.2% UK Rightmove house prices 5.4% vs previous 6.6% NZ Service PMI 55.6 vs previous 57.8 Economic reports due later today include: 2:45 pm GMT / 10:45 am EDT ECB reports QE purchases 2:45 pm EDT ECB President Draghi speaking