Commentary: Global markets active on multiple drivers
It has been quite a ride for global markets overnight with strong reactions to a steady stream of major announcements. Asia Pacific indices started out higher on the back of a very strong Australian jobs report where a surge in full-time positions more than offset a drop in part-time jobs. While Australian stocks kept their momentum going, Chinese markets turned south again after Chinese data confirmed weakness in that economy. European markets have been mixed while US indices have picked up steam again on the back of better than expected US retail sales and jobless claims this morning.
Although tensions remain heated ahead of Sunday’s referendum in Crimea and threats of sanctions in the air, political risk premiums have leveled off overnight with gold consolidating yesterday’s rally, wheat continuing to climb and WIT crude oil clawing back some of the ground it lost to Brent crude recently. Defensive havens like JPY and CHF have also cooled today. This situation, however, could change at any time without notice and may remain a key market driver well into next week.
USD has taken a big hit overnight, underperforming other major paper currencies. Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer indicated at his confirmation hearing yesterday that he supports continuing monetary accommodation to fight unemployment. The street appears to have taken this as extremely dovish, knocking down the USD. Dreams that he may ride in and put a stop to tapering seem premature as he did note the degree of expansion is being cut back. Once again, there is a difference between tapering (easing back on the gas) and tightening (putting your foot on the brake).
The improvement in US jobless claims indicate the US job market is accelerating out of a difficult winter so tapering looks likely to continue but interest rate increases beyond that could be pushed back if necessary.
NZD (on the interest rate increase) and AUD (on the strong job report) have been the top performers among major currencies today. CAD has also started to rebound on signs of continuing strength in the Canadian housing market.
Between all of the news that has come out overnight, more announcements scheduled for tomorrow and the potential for more big developments next week between the Crimea referendum and US Fed meeting, we could see significant action and trading opportunities continue for the next week or more.
Economic reports released overnight and this morning include:
RBNZ interest rate decision 0.25% increase to 2.75% widely expected
South Korea interest rate 2.50% no change as expected
US retail sales 0.3% vs street 0.2%
US jobless claims 315K vs street 330K
Brazil retail sales 6.2% vs street 4.8%
Canada new house prices 1.5% vs street 1.3%
Australia employment change 47K vs street 15K vs previous (3K)
Australia unemployment rate 6.0% as expected
Australia full-time jobs 80K vs previous (7K)
Australia part-time jobs (33K) vs previous 3K
China retail sales 11.8% vs street 13.5%
China industrial production 8.6% vs street 9.5%
China fixed assets 17.9% vs street 19.4%
Japan machine orders 12.6% vsstreet 18.9%
France consumer prices 1.1% vs previous 0.7%
Spain retail sales 0.5% vs street (0.8%)
Greece unemployment rate 27.5% vs previous 27.0%
Economic reports due later today include:
10:30 am EDT US natural gas storage street (199 BCF)