US markets were choppy today as traders tried to figure out what to make of a number of conflicting data points but gained strength into the afternoon, sending more positive momentum heading into today’s Asia Pacific session. The growing realization that a $10 billion taper looks to be the default option for each FOMC meeting this year, (as we predicted in our 2014 annual outlook) has boosted USD at the expense of precious metals, paper currencies and some commodities. In FX trading today, NOK, SEK and AUD have underperformed while JPY has come the closest to holding its own against the rising USD. Yesterday’s weak Chinese flash PMI report has also dragged on commodities today particularly copper and crude oil as speculation of a China led rebound in resource demand cools. Natural gas and heating oil remain active as we move through the peak of home heating season. US data was mixed today but in the end it appears traders have decided to blame the Philly Fed disappointment on the weather and focus on the better than expected US flash PMI report. Blackberry has attracted a lot of attention today as the street re-evaluates the value of its messaging business in the wake of Facebook’s $19 billion deal to purchase WhatsApp. Tesla has been climbing too on the back of strong earnings reports although some have started to question around the street its high valuation relative to Ford and General Motors. News flow is pretty light heading toward the weekend but GBP and CAD along with the FTSE and S&P/TSX could be active tomorrow around retail sales reports. Corporate News Hewlett Packard $0.90 vs street $0.85 Nordstrom $1.37 vs street $1.34 Priceline.com $8.85 vs street $8.31 Economic News Significant announcements released overnight include: France flash manuf PMI 48.5 vs street 49.6 France flash service PMI 46.9 vs street 49.4 Germany flash manuf PMI 54.7 vs street 56.3 Germany flash service PMI 55.4 vs street 56.4 EuroZone flash manuf PMI 53.0 vs street 54.0 US flash manufacturing PMI 56.7 vs street 53.0 US consumer prices 1.6% as expected up from 1.5% last month US jobless claims 336K vs street 335K US Philadelphia Fed (6.3) vs street 8.0 US leading indicator 0.3% as expected US natural gas storage (250 BCF) vs street (257 BCF) US crude oil inventories 0.9 mbbbls vs street 2.2 mmbbls US gasoline inventories 0.3 mmbbls vs street (0.85 mmbbls) Upcoming significant announcements include: 9:00 am GMT UK retail sales street 5.0% 9:00 am GMT UK retail sales ex auto street 5.0% 8:30 am EST Canada retail sales street (0.4%) 8:30 am EST Canada retail sales ex auto street (0.1%) 8:30 am EST Canada consumer prices street 1.3% 10:00 am EST US existing home sales street 4.68M