Stock markets have been holding steady overnight, consolidating this week's gains. US index futures and the Dax are flat while the FTSE is up 0.25%.
In currency action, the USD is down slightly enabling other currencies like gold, JPY and CAD to build on recent gains. NZD regained $0.7000 overnight on a stronger manufacturing PMI report. GBP continues to attract renewed interest following hawkish dissent at yesterday's Bank of England meeting.
Crude oil's rebound continues, with WTI and Brent rising another 0.3%. Comments out of Saudi Arabia about potentially extending supply cuts past June are attracting attention with US drilling activity data due later in the day.
Today's focus for traders is on politics with a number of big meeting scheduled. German Chancellor Merkel meets with US President Trump this afternoon looking to improve relations following criticism from the US about Germany's big trade surplus and how it's membership in the Euro depresses its currency relative to a standalone Deutschemark. Comments out of yesterday's meeting between finance ministers Schaeuble and Mnuchin appeared less strained.
G-20 finance ministers are meeting today in Germany with ministers likely trying to find common ground on trade somewhere between fully open markets and protectionism. Currencies and competitive devaluation are likely to top the agenda too as they often do at these events.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Tillerson continues his trip to Asia, with meetings in South Korea today after Japan yesterday and preparing to meet with China on the weekend. What to do about North Korea is at the top of his agenda having indicated the US is losing strategic patience with the rogue nation and looking at alternatives with everything apparently on the table.
In the UK, the Conservative party and the SNP are both holding internal meetings today. Brexit is likely to be top of mind with the Brexit bill having received Royal Assent clearing the way for PM May to trigger Article 50. Yesterday, the Prime Minister rejected calls for a second Scottish Referendum saying "now is not the time". The government is planning to trigger Article 50 to launch Brexit negotiations, perhaps around next week's Eurogroup finance ministers meeting Monday, or more likely, the EU Summit on Saturday the 25th.
There have been no major corporate announcements this morning.
Significant announcements released overnight include:
NZ BusinessNZ manufacturing PMI 55.2 vs previous 51.6
NZ ANZ consumer confidence 125.2 vs previous 127.4
Eurozone construction output (6.2%) vs previous 3.2%
Upcoming significant economic announcements include:
9:15 am EDT US industrial production street 0.2% vs previous (0.3%)
9:15 am EDT US manufacturing production street 0.5% vs previous 0.2%
10:00 am EDT US consumer sentiment street 97.0
10:00 am EDT US leading index street 0.5%
1:20 pm EDT President Trump meets with German Chancellor Merkel
Mar 17-18 G-20 finance ministers meet in Germany
Mar 18 US Secretary of State Tillerson visits China
Mar 20 Eurogroup Finance ministers meeting
Mar 25 EU Summit in Italy
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