It was a mixed day for stock markets with more action in commodities and currencies today. In the US, the Dow finished down slightly while the NASDAQ finished up slightly. In Europe, the FTSE finished up slightly while the Dax was down slightly.
Crude oil had a big trading day with significant swings
in both directions. Traders spent the day trying to figure out whether a massive build in US inventories, a surprise decline in gasoline inventories or indications from Iran and Qatar that OPEC cuts could be extended was most important.
The biggest action of the day has been in currency markets. Most recently, New Zealand has been in focus with NZD plunging following the latest RBNZ decision and statement. The central bank maintained its Overnight Cash Rate at 1.75% as expected. As with other central banks lately, the outlook for interest rates was neutral with bullish comments on the economy and commodity prices offset by indications inflation is levelling off and house price pressures have eased. Traders focused on the central bank’s attempt to talk down the dollar stating “A decline in the exchange rate is needed” which is about as clear as it gets.
In other currency action, GBP continues to climb against USD, EUR and JPY with traders responding favourably to the Brexit bill’s march through the Parliamentary process with attempts to amend the bill being defeated. Meanwhile, EUR continues to fall against USD, GBP and JPY as the continent’s growing fractures and political risks around upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany plus instability in Italy and Greece continue to drag on the single currency. Gold, and to a lesser extent, continue to attract capital looking for defensive havens.
Thursday, focus returns to the US Dollar with speculation building on whether or not the Fed will raise rates in March, which it pretty much needs to do if it plans to raise rates four times this year. Regional Fed Presidents Evans and Bullard take up the torch on the dovish side following duelling comments from Hawkish Harker and Dovish Kashkari on Tuesday. If either were to lean hawkish it would be more of a surprise but dovish talk could drag on the dollar too.
There have been no major corporate announcements after the US close today.
Significant announcements released overnight include:
NZ RBNZ interest rate 1.75% no change expected
Canada housing starts 207K vs street 198K
US DOE crude oil inventories 13.8 mmbbls (wow) vs street 2.5 mmbbls
US DOE gasoline inventories (0.8 mmbbls) street 1.6 mmbbls
Upcoming significant economic announcements include:
(Note: 11:30 am in Sydney/Melbourne is currently 1:30 pm in Auckland, 4:30 pm in Vancouver, 7:30 pm in Toronto/Montréal, 12:30 am in London and 8:30 am in Singapore)
10:50 am AEDT Japan machine orders street 4.5%
11:00 am AEDT Australia new home sales previous 6.1%
7:00 am GMT Norway GDP street 0.7% vs previous (0.5%)
7:00 am GMT Germany trade balance street €20.5B
10:00 am GMT Greece unemployment rate previous 23.0%
8:30 am EST Canada new house prices previous 3.0%
8:30 am EST US jobless claims street 249K
9:10 am EST FOMC Bullard speaking
1:10 pm EST FOMC Evans speaking
10:30 am EST US natural gas street (159 BCF)