Tuesday finds stock markets around the world continuing their recent patter of one day up one day down for the most part. Enthusiasm about potential China stimulus faded fast as traders recognized it as a sign that China’s economy must be really struggling. There also has been a lot of data out of Europe that has weighed on markets. UK GDP came in surprisingly higher than expected, and providing evidence to support Bank of England Governor Carney’s comments from last week that the next MPC move is likely to be an interest rate increase although this may still be some time off. The official kickoff to the election campaign may also be providing a headwind with the potential for a hung Parliament/minority government. The impact of this uncertainty appears particularly apparent with action in GBP today which has outperformed all other majors except USD. European indices, meanwhile are also trading lower along with EUR today. A flurry of economic numbers from the continent showed the divide between north and south remains as wide as ever with German retail sales and employment strong while retail sales for Spain and Greece missed expectations badly and Italy’s unemployment rate rose again. USD remains the king of the hill in currency markets. Overnight and this morning, FOMC speakers kept the bandwagon toward interest rate liftoff rolling with Vice Chair Fischer repeating his call for liftoff later this year and Richmond Fed President Lacker (a voter this year) indicating he sees a strong case for liftoff at the June meeting Crude oil is getting knocked back again this morning, ongoing concerns over China demand may be a factor, but negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program also have been overhanging the market. A successful conclusion to the talks could reduce some of the sanctions in place against the country and potentially add more supply to a market already clearly in surplus which could exacerbate the market share war among suppliers even more. The loonie popped a bit on the announcement of Canadian GDP for January. Expectations had been pretty low after Bank of Canada Governor Poloz complained about an “atrocious” Q1 economy in a speech yesterday. Instead, GDP was down only marginally over month and up 2.4% over year, a performance a lot of countries around the world would love to have had I’m sure. This does leave me to wonder though how bad February and March could have been to prompt such a comment from the central bank? Time will tell… It’s the last day of the month, and quarter, and fiscal year for many financial companies, so we could see quite a bit of position squaring today and preparation for more data to come including manufacturing PMI from around the world and US ADP payrolls over tonight and tomorrow morning. Corporate News There have been no major corporate announcements this morning. Economic News Economic reports released overnight and this morning include: Canada January GDP 2.4% as expected vs previous 2.8% UK Q4 GDP update 3.0% street 2.7% Germany retail sales 3.6% vs street 3.4% Germany unemployment change (15K) vs street (12K) Germany unemployment rate 6.4% vs street 6.5% Eurozone unemployment rate 11.3% vs street 11.2% Eurozone consumer prices (0.1%) as expected Eurozone core CPI 0.6% vs street 0.7% France consumer spending 3.0% vs street 2.6% Spain retail sales 2.6% vs street 4.1% Italy unemployment rate 12.7% vs street 12.6% Greece retail sales (2.6%) vs street (1.3%) Australia new home sales 1.1% vs previous 1.8% NZ ANZ business confidence 35.8 vs previous 34.4 NZ ANZ activity outlook 42.2 vs previous 40.9 Japan housing starts (3.1%) vs street (6.8%) Economic reports due later today include: 9:45 am EDT US Chicago PMI street 51.8 10:00 am EDT US consumer confidence street 96.4