European Outlook: Asian stock markets were mixed overnight, with the ASX managing to close with a 0.24% gain, while the Nikkei was down -0.35% at the close. The Hang Seng moved sideways after yesterday’s rally and the CSI 3000 is heading south. U.K. and U.S. futures are also in negative territory and it seems European markets could correct some of yesterday’s relief rally, which could help to put a floor under bond markets. Bunds underperformed yesterday and extended losses in after hour trade, hit by comments from Nowotny who suggested that the deposit rate could rise before the repo rate when the ECB eventually starts it exit from the loose policy. The comments were clearly not intended to signal any immediate policy change, but markets immediately started to price in rate hikes, indicating how sensitive investors are to any comments on rates. Today’s calendar is pretty quiet, with only Eurozone trade and construction data, leaving markets plenty of time to digest this week’s central bank decisions and upcoming policy risks, with the U.K. set to trigger Article 50 and official Brexit talks next week.
President Trump released his “skinny budget” for 2018: which it’s more a general blueprint and is hence, short on details. The 53 page document is about 1/3 that of President Obama’s, due in part to the fact he included only discretionary items. As expected, defense spending was boosted by $54 bln, but the overall impact will be neutralized by reductions in a number of agencies, including cuts of 31% from the EPA and a 29% from the State Department. Ag and Labor Departments were also trimmed by 21%.
U.S. reports: revealed remarkably strong Philly Fed component data and another super-tight initial claims reading. U.S. March Philly Fed manufacturing index fell 10.5 points to 32.8 after surging 19.7 points higher to 43.3 in February (which was the strongest print since January 1984). But, key components were all higher. U.S. housing starts rebounded 3.0% to 1.288 mln in February after tumbling 1.9% to 1.251 mln in January. The 2k U.S. initial claims drop to 241k in the second week of March trimmed the 20k bounce to 243k, from the 44-year low of 223k in the week of President’s Day. That brought the 4-week average up to 237.25k from 236.5k. Continuing claims dropped 30k to 2,030k in the March 4 week after slipping 4k to 2,060k previously. Ongoing tightness in claims, combined with today’s robust Philly Fed headline and component data, signals upside risk to the March jobs report. Claims remain well below the 263k average in 2016 and the 6-month high of 275k as recently as mid-December.
UK: BoE left the repo rate at 0.25% and QE unchanged, as widely expected, though one of the nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee, Kirsten Forbes, dissented in favour of a 25bp rate hike. The minutes retained the view that “some modest withdrawal of monetary stimulus” over the next three years still applied, but stressed that, despite slowing wage growth and consumer spending, that “some members noted that it would take relatively little further upside news on the prospects of activity or inflation for them to consider that a more immediate reduction in policy support might be warranted.” The MPC still retained its overall neutral stance, noting that additional policy support could yet be warranted if growth lagged behind projections made in the BoE’s February Inflation Report. Sterling rallied on the unexpected vote split and hawkish twist in the minutes.
Main Macro Events Today
- G20 Meetings – G20 meetings will be held today and tomorrow in Germany.
- Prelim UoM Consumer – The first release on Michigan Consumer Sentiment for March is out today and should post a slight headline increase to 97.1 after February’s dip to 96.3 from 98.5 in January. The various measures of consumer confidence have been hitting a string of new post-recession highs since the election but have begun to plateau.
- US Industrial Production – February industrial production data is expected to post 0.3% increase following the 0.3% drop in January and the 0.6% increase in December.
- Canadian Manufacturing Sales – Manufacturing Sales expected to reveal a 0.4% m/m loss in January after the 2.3% bounce in December.
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