European markets struggled for direction yesterday, after German Q4 GDP showed a surprise contraction of -0.2% and core CPI in Spain rose to a record high of 7.5%, pushing yields across the bloc sharply higher. With the ECB due to meet later this week and expected to raise rates by 50bps, yesterday’s weakness appears to have been driven by concern that the EU economy might not be as strong as thought, and inflation a lot stickier.
US markets also continued their own Jekyll and Hyde behaviour with the Nasdaq 100 posting its biggest one-day loss this year, as the strong rally of last week gave rise to a more tempered approach as the Federal Reserve gets set to kick off its two-day meeting later today.
Yesterday’s surprise increase in Spanish core inflation for January to record highs also appears to have raised concerns that high prices might not come down as quickly as thought, and growth a lot slower, despite the recent sharp falls in energy prices. With Asia markets also sliding back this morning, markets here in Europe look set to open lower as we come to the end of what has been a strong month.
Later today we should get a better idea of whether the contraction in the German economy in Q4 was a localised issue, or symptomatic of more widespread economic weakness across the EU.
The French economy is expected to slow in Q4, down from 0.2% in Q3, to 0%, while the Italian economy is expected to contract by -0.2% in Q4. This is expected to translate into a similar weak performance for EU Q4 GDP which is forecast to show a contraction of -0.1%.
The UK economy is also expected to experience a weak quarter, however we won’t know the actual numbers on that until next week, but recent lending data has already shown that consumers have already started to rein back on their spending, although we did see a bit of a pickup in November.
Net consumer credit in November more than doubled from 700k in October, to £1.5bn. This may well have been driven by a surge of holiday bookings judging by the recent November GDP numbers, which showed a strong performance from the travel sector. This resilience may well extend into December with an expectation of £1.1bn.
Mortgage approvals on the other hand, have slowed sharply since the summer months, and are expected to remain subdued in December, with expectations of a fall from 46.1k to 45k.
In the US the latest consumer confidence numbers for January are expected to see another gain to 109, after a surprise surge in December saw this indicator rise sharply to 108.3 from 101.40. This rise in consumer confidence is a little puzzling given that retail sales in the US for both November and December showed sharp declines.
One indicator that is likely to be of particular interest to the Federal Reserve as they convene their latest meeting today is the employment cost index for Q4 which is expected to slow from 1.1% from 1.2% in Q3. This is another key indicator for the Federal Reserve after last week saw core PCE fall to its lowest levels in over a year. An upside miss on the ECI would be bad news for any sort of dovish expectations from tomorrow’s decision.
EUR/USD – we saw another failed attempt to push above the 1.0900 area before slipping back again. The main resistance remains at the 1.0950 area which is 50% retracement of the move from the 2021 highs to last year’s lows at 0.9536. A move through 1.0950 opens up a move towards 1.1110. Support remains back at the 1.0780 area.
GBP/USD – has continued to struggle above the 1.2400 area after last week’s failure to move through the 1.2450 resistance area. We need to see a move through the 1.2450 area to target further gains towards 1.2600. A move below 1.2250 could see a move towards 1.2170.
EUR/GBP – the failure to make progress through the 0.8850 area last week has seen the euro slip back. Key support remains at the 50- and 100-day SMA which we earlier this month at the 0.8720/30 area. Below 0.8720 targets 0.8680.
USD/JPY – needs to break through the 131.00 area to target a move back towards 132.60. While below 131.00 the risk is for further declines towards the lows at 127.20. We have trend line support at the 129.00 area initially.
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