European Outlook: Positive leads from the U.S., including corporate earnings, and broad-based gains in commodities helped the global stock move higher to continue in Asia overnight at least in the first part of the session. The CSI 300 is in the red, however, and the Hang Seng underperforming with a meagre 0.17% gain, and Japanese markets are down from early highs while FTSE 100 and U.S. stock futures are in the red. So, some caution is settling in again ahead of the Fed announcement today with some speculation that the Fed could announce the start of quantitative tightening as early as today. In Europe, the ECB is still far away from reducing its balance sheet, and while QE tapering is on the cards for 2018, Nowotny yesterday argued against committing to an end to asset purchases. Today’s calendar focuses on the first reading of Q2 GDP from the U.K, while all eyes will be on the Fed’s post FOMC meeting announcement and guidance. The big question is whether the central bank will detail plans to unwind QE, though we think not as inflation data has been benign and there hasn’t been any rhetorical prepping by members for such a policy shift since the issue was brought up at the June policy meeting.
Australia: Earlier today, the Aussie dollar took a rap following sub-forecast CPI data out of Australia, which came in at 1.9% y/y in Q2 versus the median forecast for 2.2% y/y, while the underlying rate remained stubbornly below the RBA’s target range. AUDUSD is just off its lows, at 0.7884 bid presently, showing a 0.7% decline on the day as the London interbank market take to their seats. The Aussie is showing a similar magnitude of decline versus the yen and euro, too.
U.S. reports: revealed upside July surprises for both consumer confidence and the Richmond Fed, alongside a firm but largely seasonal 0.8% May rise for the S&P Case Shiller. For consumer confidence, we say a July pop to 121.1 from 117.3 (was 118.9) that left this measure at its strongest level since the 16-year high of 124.9 in March, with a rise in the current conditions index to a 147.8 new cycle-high, despite drops in other July confidence measures. For Richmond Fed, we saw a rise to 14.0, after revisions that lifted recent levels to 11.0 (was 7.0) in June and 3.0 (was 1.0) in May, versus a 7-year high of 19.0 (was 17.0) in February. This increase bucked declines in other producer sentiment measures, though the ISM-adjusted average of the major surveys should still tick down to 55 in July from 56 in June, 55 in May, 56 in April, and a 57 cycle-high in February and March. Nevertheless, yesterday U.S. Senate voted to move ahead on repealing Obamacare. Initially fifty GOP senators voted yes, with two voting no, for a total of 50, while not a Democrat voted for the measure. Hence Vice president Mike Pence as Reuters reported, forced to cast the tie-breaking vote. The EURUSD had retreated from 1.1712 highs, after failing to take out the August 2015 high of 1.1714. Profit taking out of London had reportedly been in play, with the pairing dipping to 1.1657 lows.
ECB’s Nowotny against committing to end date for QE: Nowotny said in an interview yesterday that he considers it “wise to step of the gas slowly”, adding that “the U.S. central bank also implemented tapering without committing to a definite timetable”. The QE program currently runs until the end of the year and the ECB iw widely expected to reduce monthly purchase targets again with a follow up program, but Nowotny’s comments suggest that the ECB may not yet lay out a full-time table for a final end to QE and indeed given Draghi’s very cautious stance so far, it seems more likely that the ECB won’t commit to a fixed data for the end of QE. The IMf also urged the ECB to maintain stimulus as underlying inflation and wage growth remains weak and with inflation expected to ease again next year, Draghi seems to have room for a gradual approach.
German Jul Ifo index unexpectedly jumped to 116.0 from 115.2. Expectations had been for a slight correction in the headline reading, especially after Monday’s disappointing PMI readings. The breakdown showed that the overall improvement was entirely due to a sharp rise in the current conditions indicator, while the more forward-looking expectations index stagnated. So the message is not unlike that of the PMIs, which showed ongoing robust growth, but a slowdown in the pace of expansion. A strong German Ifo figure, upbeat ECBspeak and the release of the BoJ minutes from the mid-June meeting all failed to stir markets, with participants looking to tomorrow’s policy announcement and communication from the Fed as the next key risk event. The yen has been following its often-seen inverse correlation with global stock markets, which have been mostly buoyant this week, underpinned by incoming corporate earnings and guidance, yesterday’s record print in the latest German Ifo indicator, and expectations for the Fed to affirm its slow-go approach to tightening following the conclusion of the FOMC meeting today. The minutes from the BoJ’s mid-June policy meeting, released yesterday, meanwhile showed that members discussed the idea of QE tempering, but were still worried about the persistence of well below target inflation.
Main Macro Events Today
- FOMC – FOMC began day 1 of its 2day meeting. No major changes are expected in Wednesday’s announcement (14 ET). The Fed is widely expected to leave its 1.00% to 1.25% rate band in place due to the slowing in inflation. Committee members have also indicated they want more evidence of a pick-up in growth after the disappointing 1.4% Q1 pace, though recent data should be fulfilling that need.
- US Home sales, MBA & EIA – The MBA mortgage market indices are due today, along with the EIA energy inventory report and new home sales may decrease 2.5% to a 595k pace in June, down from 610k in May.
- UK GDP – The calendar features the first release of Q2 GDP, which expected to rise 0.3% q/q and by 1.7% y/y, which would follow respective Q1 figures of 0.2% and 2.0%. The quarterly pace of growth likely remained relatively lackluster in Q1 compared to growth in the Eurozone and the U.S., and the same picture looks likely to be painted again this quarter. Weakness in sterling following the Brexit vote last June has fed a secular rise in UK inflation, which in turn has eroded household incomes and consumer spending, which in recent years of government austerity has been the main driver of the economy.
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