European Outlook: Asian stock markets are mostly higher, led by Japan, where the Nikkei closed with a 2.5% gain after an upward revision to the manufacturing PMI reading and underpinned by catch up trades, after yesterday’s holiday. The Hang Seng underperformed and showed a -0.27% loss in late trade, with energy stocks under pressure after the front end WTI future fell back below USD 53 per barrel. See details below. U.S. and U.K. stock futures, however, are moving higher, after broad gains on most markets yesterday and as a strong round of world PMI releases underpins growth optimism and risk appetite. At the same time inflation may be moving higher which is pushing up yields, although even if Eurozone HICP inflation is expected to jump higher and clear the 1.0% mark today, we don’t see the ECB reversing its decision to extend QE purchases through to the end of the year. Today’s European calendar also has Spanish inflation data, the final reading of the Eurozone Services PMI and from the U.K. BoE money supply growth and lending data.
US Data Yesterday: The U.S. ISM rise to a 2-year high of 54.7 from the prior high of 53.2 that was also seen last June left the ISM further above the 7-month low of 49.4 in August, and last December’s 48.0 expansion-low. The mix of available sentiment surveys should allow the ISM-adjusted average to sustain the November surge to a 16-month high of 53 from 51 in October and 50 in August and September. We saw a 49 expansion-low in January and February, and previously in October of 2012. We’re seeing a factory sector rebound that is lifting most producer sentiment and consumer confidence measures in the face of rising oil prices, a reversal in the inventory headwind, and hopes for deregulation and fiscal stimulus in 2017. The economy still faces lingering headwinds from a sluggish world economy, a strong dollar, and still-high oil inventories. U.S. construction spending popped 0.9% higher in November after a 0.6% October gain (revised up from 0.5%), though September was bumped lower to -0.2% from unchanged. The headline reading is better than expected. Spending is up 4.1% y/y. Strength was broad-based.
European Data Yesterday: German HICP jumped to 1.7% y/y, the highest rate since 2013, and starting to eye the 2% limit for price stability. That the headline rate would jump higher at the end of the year on base effects was widely expected, but the number did still come in far above the median forecast and the preliminary breakdown confirmed that most of it was due to energy price increases, which turned to 2.5% y/y in December, from -2.7% y/y in November. German jobless numbers dropped -17k in December, much more than anticipated and with the November decline also revised to -6k from -5k, which confirms that the improvement on the labour market continued at the end of 2016. The jobless rate remained at a record low of 6.0%, with much of the remaining gap due to structural issues and a mismatch of skills on the demand and supply side. The December UK manufacturing PMI smashed forecasts in rising to 56.1 from 53.6 in November, which was revised up from 53.4. The median forecast had been for a 53.4 outcome, while the 56.1 reading is the best since June 2014, indicating brisk expansion in the sector.
US Stocks and Oil swing wildly: Another swing and a miss on Dow 20k has sent stocks scrambling lower, accompanied by a reversal in the dollar, which has reversed lower as well. WTI crude has also doubled back in the melee, falling 2% $52.60 after climbing over 2.5% to clear $55.0 after its probe over $55 earlier (swing of nearly 5%) amid concerns about Libya upping production. Ford announced plans to cancel a $1.6 bln factory in Mexico, perhaps as collateral damage from the Trump tweet storm with U.S. execs, though Ford is up 2.5% (-5.5% 1-year return). GM was criticized by Trump for manufacturing its Cruze model in Mexico, which the company downplayed. The Dow stalled out at 19,938.5, eased below 19,800 before rallying into the close to end the day at 19,881.
Main Macro Events Today
- Eurozone HICP – The much higher than expected German and Spanish inflation numbers forecasts for the overall Eurozone reading have been increased significantly to 1.3%, from 0.6% y/y in the previous month. Yields jumped higher on the report yesterday, but while the numbers add to the argument of the critics of Draghi’s expansionary policy, it is unlikely to see the ECB changing its mind on the QE expansion, as the uptick in inflation was already factored into central bank forecasts. It will however bring the question of when the ECB will start “real tapering” that is start a program of cutting back purchases with the intention of phasing them out, back to the agenda.
- FOMC Minutes – Though the report would usually be highly anticipated by the markets, its importance has been diminished by the dot-plot showing estimates for three quarter point hikes in 2017, and by the fact that the usually dovish Chair Yellen seemed fully supportive of the more hawkish stance. There’s little the minutes can show that we don’t already think we know. Surprises are unlikely but still potentially high influential.
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