European Outlook: Asian stock markets traded mixed, with Hang Seng and CSI continuing to outperform as China earnings optimism fuels Chinese stocks in Hong Kong. Japan closed in negative territory after yesterday’s holiday. U.S. stock futures are moving higher, while the FTSE 100 future is slightly in negative territory. Concerns about a new wave of global protectionism continue to linger after the frosty G20 meeting. Bundesbank President Weidmann tried to play down the rift, saying that the view was shared that open markets and a free market-based economy are key for prosperity, but added that the meeting showed that “there are still some discussions ahead” regarding the role of trade. Oil prices are up on the day. The European calendar hots up today, with U.K. inflation data for February, as well as public finance data and the CBI Industrial Trends survey for March.
Fedspeak: Both Fed’s Evans and Harker mulled the possibility of 3 hikes in 2017, while Kashkari defended his dovish dissent, warning that nothing had really changed economically and inflation remained below target. Philly Fed’s Harker said in a CNBC interview that raising rates last week was prudent. Harker is a voter this year and is on the hawkish end of the hawk-dove spectrum. While he’s in line with the 3 rate hikes this year, he said there’s no real urgency right now. He noted the Fed is getting closer to its 2% inflation goal and prices are moving in the right direction. He expects there could be some overshoot of the target, but didn’t want to get behind the curve. On the other hand, Fed’s Kashkari said inflation is stuck at 1.7% as measured by core PCE y/y and the jobless rate has steadied near 4.7% as the labor force participation rate goes up. He’s defending his dovish dissent last week and said that nothing has really changed over the past several years, which justifies letting the economy run. Lastly Chicago Fed’s Evans said the economy is on a pretty good course. He said this is a challenging period of time, noting the potential for a big stimulus boost to growth. He suggested that would pose a risk to the FOMC given the economy is close to full capacity. He also said the lower pace of capital expansion could reflect lower trend growth.
President Trump: As Reuters reported: “President Donald Trump said last night that he wants to add a provision to the Republican healthcare plan that would lower prescription drug costs through a “competitive bidding process.” “We’re going to have a great competitive bidding process. Medicine prices will be coming way down. We’re trying to add it to this bill and if we can’t, we’ll have it right after,” he said, referring to Republican legislation to replace Obamacare that is due to be voted on in the House of Representatives as early as Thursday. However, the appearance of both the NSA and FBI Directors on Capital Hill snatched most of the media focus, after Comey confirmed FBI is investigating Russian interference in the election and any Trump Campaign complicity, while denying any veracity of wiretapping claims and mulling press leaks.
Main Macro Events Today
- UK Inflation Data – CPI expected to lift to a new cycle high of 2.1% y/y from 1.8% y/y in February, which would be the first-time inflation has been either at or above the BoE’s mandated 2.0% target since December 2013. February Core CPI is expected to come in relatively more benign, at 1.7% y/y.
- BoE Gov. Carney – BOE Governor Mark Carney is going to give a speech at 10:35 GMT in London.
- Canadian Retail Sales – January is typically a solid month for retail sales, and expected to fit the usual pattern with a 1.5% gain in total sales and a 1.3% rise in the ex-autos aggregate.
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