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Commentary: Stocks stall as traders look past ECB to Friday’s job reports

CMC Markets

Stock markets have been mixed overnight as traders digest another flood of news. Service PMI results from around the world came in neutral to a bit soft with Australia and Italy turning in the weakest performance and Japan the strongest. Chinese PMI numbers were slightly better than expected but other news was mixed. The Chinese government brought in small package of stimulus measures aimed at boosting railways, low income housing and small businesses. While giving with one hand, it took with another as the PBOC announced another removal of emergency monetary stimulus, this time to the tune of CNY 90B. Chinese indices had a muted response while copper dropped back suggesting that the street had already priced in that size of stimulus package and it was no longer a surprise. European indices have turned positive in the last few minutes with the MIB and IBEX leading the charge. The ECB meeting and press conference held no major surprises with the central bank holding interest rates steady while talking dovishly (inflation low; ready to step in as needed even with unconventional measures). Indication from ECB President Draghi that apparently a rate cut was discussed appears to have attracted attention. The stealth taper the ECB ran over the last year which shrunk its balance sheet dramatically means it certainly has the firepower to take action if required. Gold has dropped back a bit while crude oil and grains have rebounded, essentially unwinding yesterday’s moves and suggesting sideways trends continue to emerge. In currency markets today, NZD and SEK have been retreating in what appear to be sharp but normal corrections of recent advances. CAD is holding steady against USD but could be more active tomorrow depending on how Canada jobs fare relative to south of the border. GBP is down slightly after governor Carney indicates he wants to see the recovery to broaden out to more regions and slack in the job market be reduced before raising interest rates. US indices continue to bump up against their all-time highs with the S&P just above and the Dow just below the top of recent trading channels. Despite this, indices don’t appear to be enthusiastic about going further at the moment. A couple of points on the S&P is a rounding error not a breakout, and recent Dow gains have really been a catch-up rally. It looks like US traders are now focusing on tomorrow’s nonfarm payrolls report although we could see some action around the two US PMI numbers due later this morning. Corporate News Hudson’s Bay Company adjusted EPS $0.17 vs street $0.49, sales $2.40B vs street $2.36B Economic News Economic reports released overnight and this morning include: Eurozone interest rate 0.25% no change as expected Brazil interest rate 25 bps increase to 11.00% as expected US Challenger layoffs 34K vs previous 41K US jobless claims 326K vs street 319K US trade balance ($42.3B) vs street ($38.5B) Canada trade balance $0.29B vs street $0.20B US foreclosures 43K vs year ago 51K Australia retail sales 0.2% vs street 0.3% Australia trade balance $1,200M vs street $800M Eurozone retail sales 0.8% vs street 0.7% Service PMI reports include: Australia 48.9 vs previous 55.2 Japan 52.2 vs previous 49.3 China official 54.5 vs previous 55.0 China HSBC 51.9 vs previous 51.0 India 47.5 vs previous 48.8 Spain 54.0 vs street 53.3 South Africa 50.2 vs previous 51.5 Italy 49.5 vs street 52.3 France 51.5 vs street 51.4 Germany 53.0 vs street 54.0 Eurozone 52.2 vs street 52.4 UK 57.6 vs street 58.2 Economic reports due later today include: 9:00 am EDT Brazil service PMI previous 50.8 9:45 am EDT US Markit service PMI street 55.7 10:00 am EDT US ISM non-manu PMI street 53.5 vs previous 51.6 10:30 am EDT US natural gas street (74 BCF)

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