US markets ended the week only slightly lower, despite the tranche of disappointing data which has plague markets since the start of the month. Even so, this follows two successive weeks of gains, as economists conveniently dismiss the bad data as being owed to a harsh winter, leaving expectations for a strong rebound when we see some warmth in spring. This week’s losses may suggest that investors are now looking beyond the weather, as such a reason for poor data can only be used so many times. The S&P 500 lost 0.1% and the Dow fell 0.3% on the shortened week, mostly due to the losses we saw on Friday, after Fed officials signalled that the central bank is unlikely to slow down the pace of tapering. There was also no impetus for a rally after the existing home sales figure declined more than expected. After a slew of dismal housing sector data, this wasn’t totally unexpected. Home resales fell 5.1% in January, the lowest levels in more than a year, as tighter credit and the harsh winter slowed demand. Shares at HP fell despite reporting a smaller fall in revenues, while its guidance was revised upwards. While tapping into the mobile space has certainly seen its revenues increase, Groupon still operates at a loss and its shares tumbled 22% after its negative profit guidance. Priceline.com rose more than 2.5% after Q4 revenues top estimates while targeting Q1 revenue growth of 15-25%. In Forex, the USD traded mostly lower against the majors after the resales home data came in weaker than expected. GBP was mostly unchanged despite a UK retail sales report. Unlike the upbeat British Consortium report, it revealed a larger-than-expected decline. With a relatively light calendar, the 1.66 levels on GBP/USD will act as near-term support for the pair. The EUR rallied on Friday. Given the absence of any market-moving data, the focus was turned to developments in Ukraine where tensions eased after calls for early elections. The German IFO business climate data is due for release today with expectations for it to edge higher after printing at a 2.5-year high in January. Meanwhile analysts will be monitoring consumer prices as the region continues to face deflationary pressures despite a rate cut as recent as November. Although we may be starting the week on a lighter note, this week marks a heavy calendar with preliminary GDP figures expected from the US, UK, Germany and Canada, to name a few. We also expect US economic data from consumer confidence, new and pending home sales, durable goods orders and factory output to continue to be affected by the weather. On the commodities front, US oil prices posted their sixth consecutive weekly rise as the persistent cold has helped to find a floor above 100 on WTI. Gold prices have also continued to rally for the third week in a row, with the 200 SMA supporting underneath.


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