The European Central Bank increased its commitment to bond buying by 600 billion Euros last night, taking the total program to 1.35 trillion. The support lifted the Euro, but other asset class responses were less predictable.
Stocks and industrial commodities fell. Bonds were mixed, as leading national issuers came under pressure at the expense of second tier issuers. The “sell the fact” response continued into US trading, aided by a larger than expected jump in jobless claims.
1.877 million US citizens applied for unemployment relief this week, taking the total continuing claims to 21.5 million. This is above forecasts of continuing claims at 20 million. Analysts are revising their estimates for tonight’s non-farm payrolls read, increasing the expected job losses to 7.5 million and the unemployment rate consensus to 19.1%. Despite optimism about economic recovery, and quick re-employment, economists now see the US unemployment rate around the 10% mark at year-end.
Asia Pacific markets are looking at a muted start. The Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and Singapore dollars are higher again this morning, but regional stock futures are modestly lower. Singapore retail sales data today is expected to show a 27% decline in April, pushing the year-on-year comparison to -35%.
Crude oil may feature on overnight reports that the OPEC+ group has overcome hurdles to reach agreement on the extension of production cuts. The market response overnight was subdued, possibly due to exhaustion after a strong week’s trading. Any ratification of the deal could provide the impetus for another leg up in energy markets.