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Commentary: Choppy waters as 2-day FOMC meeting gets underway
00:00, 17 December 2013
Overnight trading has been sending mixed signals suggesting that outcome of tomorrow’s FOMC meeting (the big taper now or taper later decision) remains so much in doubt that nobody wants to overcommit in fear of being caught offside. This means that stock markets which started the week lower in Australia and Japan and higher in Europe have been giving back ground overnight. US indices have been heading for a higher open, but only marginally higher which suggests they may be losing steam too. Overnight data indicates that inflation remains subdued and that in many areas, low growth and/or deflation remain a concern as central banks in Sweden and Hungary cut interest rates this morning. On the other hand, big dividend increases from two Dow components and much stronger than expected ZEW survey results suggest that business and investors have a more optimistic outlook about 2014 and beyond. Currency markets have been mixed with NZD trading higher on indications the country’s fiscal surplus may be higher than expected while AUD continues to weaken. Most of the other majors have been relatively steady overnight. Commodities have been trading lower with gold and silver dropping back again. Over the next 24 hours, markets may continue to struggle with direction until the Fed decision comes out tomorrow afternoon, after which we could see significant activity as traders then position themselves for the holidays and start to 2014. Corporate News Boeing announced a 50% dividend increase after the close last night. 3M raised its dividend by 35% this morning. Economic News Significant economic announcements released yesterday afternoon and overnight include: US consumer prices 1.2% vs street 1.3% vs previous 1.0% US CPI ex food and energy 1.7% as expected Sweden interest rate decision 0.25% cut to 0.75% as expected Turkey interest rate decision 4.50% no change as expected Hungary interest rate decision 0.20% cut to 3.00% as expected UK consumer prices 2.1% vs street 2.2% UK retail prices 2.6% vs street 2.7% UK producer input prices (1.0%) as expected UK producer output prices 0.8% vs street 0.9% Eurozone consumer prices 0.9% as expected Germany ZEW current 32.4 vs street 29.9 Germany ZEW expectations 62.0 vs street 55.0 Economic reports due later today include: 10:00 am EST US NAHB housing market street 55